About The Front Porch
About Us
Wish Lists
Photo Gallery
Directory of Everything for Children and Youth in Detroit
Front Porch Favorites: Resources for Parents 
Front Porch Book: How to Help Children
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 - Fairy Tale on the Porch
Chapter 2 - Unmet Needs
Chapter 3 - The Answer
Google Search
The Web
Front Porch

Who is Involved
Trustees/Advisory Board
Kids' Community Service
Organization Awards
Articles About Us
Trainings We've Attended

Please email us at frontporchdetroit@yahoo.com. Let us know if you would like to be on our update email list. Like our Facebook Page where we post updates.


Providing educational and recreational activities and opportunities to youth in Detroit according to their interests, initiatives and needs since 1997.

We started as a part of a block club in 1995 with one volunteer, five kids, some books and origami. Now there is a group of over 50 kids, ranging in age from five to seventeen. The Front Porch extends to all these kids' friends and relatives who visit the neighborhood.

If children have a safe, informal place where they are free to express their opinions and explore their talents and skills, supported by adults, and to meet other kids in their neighborhood within a structure and develop a sense of safety and true neighborhood then we should see a change in the attitude of the children and eventually the whole neighborhood. It should not be just a place to live but an interdependent place in which to grow, communicate, learn and explore: a safe place from which to begin a life not bounded by a neighborhood, but rather a life rooted in a place that is a springboard to the world.

Who Is Involved?

Front Porch Grown-Ups are the kind of people who...
  • bake cupcakes for other people’s children.
  • pay for pizza for months for hundreds of kids because there is no money right now.
  • stuff their refrigerator with food that is not for them to eat.
  • run up their credit card bill on things for the kids with an uncertainty of reimbursement.
  • give a piece of their backyard to the neighborhood kids.
  • donate money toward the block party and referee the games.
  • cook up the hot dogs for kids after a water fight and not yell at them for stepping the flower beds.
  • bring the kids a pile of books hoping even one will interest them.
  • show them how to saw a piece of wood.
  • sit on the porch for an hour and teach them how to knit or make a beaded necklace.
  • explain a long lost game like marbles or jacks on a Saturday afternoon.
  • will be the monster in a backyard movie.
  • run a million thankless errands.
  • take the time to chat with two friends having a disagreement.
  • talk about neighborhood violence in order to work through it.
We are those people. None of us are experts in childhood. We just know that kids need more than they are getting right now from the adult community. We each give of our strengths and hope that through our efforts, the children in our neighborhood are stronger and happier human beings.

Front Porch Supporters

Over the years, these include*:
  • the youth who started the program (Charlie, Shanelle, and Keith)
  • the youth who guide the program (this is every kid in the program - for their privacy we do not list their names)
  • Jean's mom and sister and Ms. Karen and Ms. Gene
  • our many individual donors, our teachers, and our volunteers who generously give their time and dig in the dirt with the kids, get donations and think of us often.
  • the kind neighbors in the AWARE area on the eastside of Detroit
  • 4-H
  • Bharatiya Temple - SEVA Team
  • Cass Technical High School: National Honor Society
  • Christ Church of Grosse Pointe
  • City of Detroit Alliance for a Safer, Greater Detroit
  • City of Detroit, Farm-A-Lot
  • City of Detroit Heilmann Recreation Center
  • City of Farmington Hills Treasury Department (the employees)
  • Classic Camera
  • Community Foundation of Southeastern Michigan
  • Continental Automotive Systems
  • Costco
  • Creag Foundation
  • Damman Hardware
  • Detroit Agriculture Network
  • Detroit Chinese Business Association
  • Detroit Free Press Summer Dreams Program
  • Detroit Indians - School Year 2013-2014
  • Detroit Industrial School
  • Detroit Public Library
  • Diamond Jack’s
  • DTE Energy (the employees)
  • Eastside Community Resource and Assistance Center
  • Eastside Garden Supply
  • Elizabeth Grace - her family and friends
  • Emiko and her students in Osaka, Japan
  • The Grams Family
  • Gardening Angels
  • George V. Murray Foundation
  • Greening of Detroit
  • Grosse Pointe South Varsity Club
  • Grosse Pointe Congregational Church
  • High/Scope Educational Research Foundation
  • HUD/City of Detroit Neighborhood Opportunity Fund
  • Jersys Group
  • Junior League of Detroit
  • Kelly-Morang Senior Center
  • Kiwanis #1 Foundation
  • Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernarians Rose Kennedy Division
  • Levinson (The Max and Anna) Foundation 
  • Lotus Bank
  • Marriott Hotel
  • Martin,  Arrington, Desai & Meyers
  • MGM Grand Detroit Community Voice Council of the MGM Mirage Voice Foundation
  • Meijers
  • Mercedes Benz of Bloomfield Hills
  • Michigan National Bank
  • Mr. Morreale
  • Morgan Stanley Smith Barney
  • New Detroit
  • Nurse Missionary New Providence Baptist Church
  • Pawlicki Studios
  • Pere Gabrial Richard Elementary School Grosse Pointe
  • Phil Pitters
  • The Rock Shoppe
  • Rovin Ceramics
  • Rotary Club of Grosse Pointe
  • Sabin Family
  • School of Public Policy Public Service Committee at the University of Michigan
  • Schoolcraft College Students in the Early Childhood Education Program
  • Sieg Foundation
  • Skyboard Travel and Tours
  • Everyone at the Skillman Center for Children 2001- November 2006
  • Suburban Infinity of Troy
  • Sweetheart Bakery
  • The Technicomm Group
  • Two Seven Oh 
  • University of Detroit Law School - International Law Student Association
  • Wayne State University Urban Safety Program
  • WXYZ 7 Action News and the Scripps Foundation
  • Youth Development Commission 
When we say we use every available resource in the community, we mean it.

*in alphabetical order. Every single effort has made opportunity for the kids on the Porch.

Supporters Who Believed in The Porch and Now Rest in Peace

Yale Miller

Gerald Hairston
Grandma Kubica
Grandma Belva
Grandma Buc
Grandma Juanita
Jim Monnig
Doug Fraser
Roberta Fleischmann
JoAnn Sabin

Front Porch Trustees
Portrait of Jean,  2011 by JD, age 11. Yes, that is a booger. Jean thinks its funny.

Jean Vortkamp, Grew up in Detroit, MIS
President, Treasurer and Director

Mary Jo Vortkamp, Grew up in Detroit, MLIS

Rocio Oxholm, Grew up in Detroit, JD
Board Member

Advisory Board

Charlene Firestone, Grew up in Detroit

Ron Cleveland, Grew up in Detroit
President, AWARE

Partners Through the Years
  • First Book
  • Detroit Public Library
  • Detroit Festival of the Arts
  • Caribbean Cultural Organization
  • City of Detroit Heilmann Recreation Center
  • Greening of Detroit
  • Detroit Agriculture Network
  • 4-H
  • Trips for Kids
  • Rooted in Community
Kids’ Community Service Projects
  • Children’s Hospital of Michigan
  • Detroit Public Library Services to Shut-Ins and Retirees
  • Amnesty International Child’s Urgent Action Campaign
  • City Clean Ups
  • Michigan Humane Society
  • Skillman Center for Children
  • Earthworks
  • Community Meetings at Heilmann
  • And Ourselves (the Older Kids help the Younger Kids)
  • Pewabic Pottery
  • Tyrone Simmons Fencing Academy
  • City of Detroit Harvey Barcus Tennis
  • Students at WSU Photography and Dance Depts.
  • Bat Conservation
  • Living Arts Dance
  • Our Spanish Teacher from International Institute
  • Douglass, Our Japanese Teacher from WSU Japanese Program
  • Gina from the Warren Indian Education Program
  • Ming taught about Chinese Culture
  • Ralph taught Caribbean culture
  • Treena from Guyana taught Caribbean culture
  • Shawn taught Algebra
  • Ms. Marie tutors phonics
  • Alternatives for Girls
  • Comerica Bank taught financial education
  • St. John Riverview taught First Aid
  • Becky taught Latin Dance
  • April taught Ballroom dance
  • Joan taught knitting
  • Kim B. and Susan S. helped us with the garden.
  • Ron taught self defense
  • Hope let us use land for a garden
  • Grandma Gene made lots of cupcakes and let us use land for a garden
  • Mr. Vann taught about airplanes and sketching
  • Shannon, Zainab, Pascal, Elizabeth, Rebecca, Sarah, Alan, Ms. V, Griffin, Mr. Vann, Mary Jo, Valerie and Tony volunteer tutored at Wayne Elementary School
  • Teegra and Shannon volunteered on bike rides
Organization Awards
  • Detroit 2020 Award (Inspire) from WXYZ-TV 7 Action News
  • Leonard Smith Award for Organizational Excellence
  • Recipient of National Gardening Association Grant
  • Recipient of President’s Environmental Award
  • Recipient of President’s Environmental Award – 3rd runner up Midwest Region
  • Distinguished Service Awards from the Detroit Recreation Department for Jean 
  • Detroit Chamber of Commerce/Detroit Police Department Citizen of the Year for Jean
  • Spirit of Detroit Awards for Jean 
  • Take Time to Care Kiwanis Award for Jean
  • Above is the WXYZ Channel 7 Story on us for the Detroit 2020 Award
  • The Front Porch: A Youth Program Based Solely on Relationships in Where Do the Children Play? by Elizabeth Goodenough. Published by Michigan Television in 2007.
  • Detroit Free Press Article by Desiree Cooper - Change, Peace Begin at Home on the Porch January 28, 2003
  • Hush Your Mouth Article by Erin Moran.
 Trainings We’ve Attended 
  • Detroit Executive Service Corps/DTE Leadership Circle
  • Multicultural Immersion Program – New Detroit
  • Logic Model Training – New Detroit
  • Grantwriting 1 and 2, starting a 501c3 – Accounting Aid Society
  • Board Member Training – Detroit Executive Service Corps
  • Nonprofit Administration I and II – Youth Development Commission
  • High/Scope Adolescent Development Training
  • Soil Testing - Detroit Agriculture Network
  • Sign Language 1 and 2 - East Detroit Continuing Education
  • WCNLS Community Mediation Training
  • American Heart Association CPR/First Aid/AED
  • High Scope Youth Development Training through YDC
  • Health and Safety YDC
  • Youth Work Intro YDC
  • Media and Marketing YDC
The Front Porch P.O. Box 24744 Detroit, Michigan 48224 USA  frontporchdetroit@yahoo.com
This website made possible by the Youth Development Commission and designed on open source software from Kompzer.
This work by The Front Porch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.