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A Q&A With Village Member Steve Smith, Portsmouth

How long have you lived on the seacoast?
I grew up in Great Barrington, Massachusetts and graduated from dental school at the University of Maryland, Baltimore in 1975. In 1977 I moved to Hampton, New Hampshire to open a dental practice. Over time, I got to know Portsmouth. I loved its size, its quaintness, its vibe. In 2009 I redid a house in a quiet, friendly Portsmouth neighborhood with a ten minute walk to downtown, and moved in in 2011.

What did you do before retirement?
I ran my dental practice in Hampton until I sold it in 2016. Since I retired, I’ve been serving the underserved by providing pro bono dental care at the Tamworth Dental Clinic. People from all over the state who can’t afford adequate dental care drive long distances to have us treat their dental emergencies.

Why did you become a Seacoast Village member?
As we get on in years, we tend to isolate from others. A major priority for me is my spiritual life, which includes being part of a community whose members offer and receive comfort and connection from each other. As I age, I want to live independently. My neighbors are great; we are always there for each other. But the aim of the Seacoast Village is to provide more extensive services than neighbors can.

What aspects of being a Village member do you find most helpful/enjoyable?
When I first joined, I enjoyed interviewing people and helping to develop the newsletter, the ‘Village Vibe.’ I was looking forward to orienting new members, speaking in public about the Village, giving people lifts, helping out with odd jobs around their houses, being a listener, a friend. Then, the pandemic happened and everything slowed down, so I’m waiting until we can pick up the pace again.

What would you tell a friend to encourage them to become a member?
I’d say the Seacoast Village Project is in development; it’s a grassroots effort to create a local service network for people who want to stay in their homes as they age. How varied those services will be going forward is too early to tell; it’s a work in progress. 

The sweet spot, in my view, is creation of a network of trusted supportive relationships that are more intimate than those currently available through social service organizations.

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