Chenoa: the next chapter

Chenoa: the next chapter

Today, our Founder Dr. Rob Teti, DVM is sharing a note about his dream to build an organization that supports both animals and children in need, and how we are working to transform Chenoa to more fully achieve this mission through the creation of a group foster home for Delaware teens. You can learn more about this project here.


I very vividly recall reading Langston Hughes’ “Harlem” and being struck by the question posed in the opening line of the poem: “What happens to a dream deferred?” 

I was 19 at the time, and had one dream, one destination where all of my life’s paths would lead. It was a vision I had carried for a few years up until that point, and the thought of deferring it seemed like an impossibility.

My vision was my dharma, the purpose of my life written on my soul at the time of my conception. And it was a simple dharma: to create & hold a space in the natural world where non-human animals & human teens would be able to live completely on their terms, without expectations or exploitation. To be met where they were with no judgement attached, only complete acceptance. A space where they were all equal, where the teens would nurture their own souls by nurturing the animals they lived with, with Nature as the ultimate teacher and the trees and waterways as witnesses. Rekindling an inherent, primordial connection that Western society caused to drift apart. Embodying the Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi: appreciating the beauty in the imperfections in and around us.

And thus, Chenoa Manor was manifested into existence. A sanctuary. For twenty years, Chenoa has welcomed and safeguarded the lives of hundreds of animal residents, witnessing them move beyond their traumatized situations with grace and time. Simultaneously, Chenoa has also welcomed hundreds of youth throughout her twenty years— offering day programs to high school youth, college kids, adjudicated teens; touching and impacting their young lives with every sanctuary-based interaction.

But there was always something missing, an incompletion. The original vision had been to offer residential opportunities to the teens, and not just day programs. But that part of the dream got deferred. Deferred because there were only 24 hours in every day and because resources were limited. 

These dreams were deferred until I adopted 16-year-old Tymir last year. After a particularly productive day of caring for the residents and grooming the horses, Tymir said to me: “You know, you should really think about having other kids like me come to live at Chenoa. That experience could really help them just like it’s helped me, and they could learn so much about life from being here.”

It was that moment when my deferred dream reawakened. I knew no matter how difficult it would be, it was time to find a way to make this dream reality.

After many Chenoa team meetings, we made the decision to pause public offerings at the sanctuary in order to focus on creating and submitting a proposal to Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth, & Their Families [DSCYF], as they were accepting bids for new partnerships within the greater community. And now I am well beyond excited to share that the state of Delaware accepted Chenoa’s proposal for the creation of a home for teenage boys in foster care. 

Frederick Douglass once wrote that, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” And now we have the opportunity to help shape & build these young men in the tradition of all that Chenoa offers through various programs focusing on compassion; nurturing; nature-connectedness; plant-based living; horticulture; art; mindfulness. 

Now I know what happens to a dream deferred.

But we can’t do this alone. There is so much work to be done before we can start accepting youth residents, and we’re going to need our entire community’s support to build a strong foundation that ensures we can help more and more animals and teens for years to come. Will you join us in building this dream?

Read more about our plans and consider making a donation on our GoFundMe for this project here: