The CAMP Rehoboth Community Center Project
by Murray Archibald
During the past winter and spring a large group of Rehoboth area residents gathered monthly in the basement of Epworth United Methodist Church on Baltimore Avenue, to discuss issues facing the gay, lesbian, bi_sexual and transgendered community. That group was the CAMP Rehoboth Project Advisory Committee, and out of those meetings have grown the projects that will keep us occupied for years to come. First and foremost on that "to do" list is the expansion of CAMP Rehoboth to include the development and operation of a community center to serve the GLBT community in our area.
Also underway is a budding Women's Project and a struggling (and not yet successful) youth program. But for most of us involved in the Project Advisory work, it quickly became apparent that a Community Center space would make all the other projects and programs of CAMP Rehoboth more successful, easier to operate, and more accessible to those who wish to participate.
CAMP Rehoboth as a community center is not a new idea. In fact, it was always a part of the original vision, and ten years ago led to the development of the CAMP Courtyard as a free space for the GLBT community. Also, for years, CAMP Rehoboth has performed a variety of community center_like worksuch as a resource and information center; an unofficial gay and lesbian chamber of commerce; police sensitivity training; AIDS prevention, awareness and fundraising; networking and fundraising with other organizations; as well as publishing Letters, which has not only financially and programmatically supported the work of CAMP Rehoboth over the years, but also provided thousands of dollars of donated advertising space to non_profit organizations, (last year alone, over $25,000).
For the last decade CAMP Rehoboth has worked to "Create A More Positive" community in the Rehoboth area. Now it's time to move to the next stepor at least to take the first steps in that expanded direction. We know that it's not going to happen overnight. We know that it's going to take commitment, cooperation, and financial support from all parts of our community. We know that community is always broader than any single one of us can imagine and that to make it a community center that truly serves all the diverse elements of which we are made will require us all to stretch a little furtherto push ourselves a little harder.
I have been so encouraged over the past few months by the energy and commitment growing out of our community. I see new leaders and talents emerging. I see creative potential that means we can accomplish our goals and make the dream of this community center a reality. Most of all I see the community itself stepping forward to claim involvementto make it our own.
On Saturday, May 20the day after this issue hits the streetsthe CAMP Rehoboth Community Center Project Committee will gather for a three hour workshop, the goal of which is to create a vision and a five year plan for the creation and the development of the Community Center. It is our hope that we can use this summer to introduce the idea of the Community Center and to begin the vital first steps on the road to its completion. Over the next few months we will share the vision, the goals and the plans and we'll be asking for your support and your input because this is a project for all of us.
At this point it is impossible to know any details other than we are sure that we want to keep The Center in downtown Rehoboth and we know we want it to serve the needs of the GLBT community and the mission of CAMP Rehoboth. We know that because of the work of CAMP Rehoboth over the years we already have a good head startwe already have our 501(c)3 tax_exempt status; we already have staff and a board of directors committed to building a strong, community_based support system; and we already have the beginnings of many of the projects that will make up The Center. The Center is the next logical step in the evolution of CAMP Rehoboth, and we hope it will provide a focus for all the many aspects of our community.
I suppose you could say that this is the first open call for support of this projectthe first of many because I'm sure that we'll be talking about it for a long time to come. The important thing is that we move it beyond talk and into reality, that we move into the vision and that the vision is shared and understood by all of us.
At all times the work of the CAMP Rehoboth Project Advisory Committee and it's sub_committees like the Community Center Project and the Women's Project are open to all. I encourage your involvement, your support, your comments and your questions. I encourage you to claim your place as part of this big extended community family we call Rehoboth.
Murray Archibald is President of the CAMP Rehoboth Board of Directors.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 10, No. 5, May 19, 2000.