CAMP Profile: Keith Henry - Bringing It All Together
|by Fay Jacobs|
|Keith Henry thought he retired when he moved from Baltimore to Rehoboth six and a half years ago. But not only is the Lewes interior designer still working in his field, he's spending even more time volunteering. What's his passion? Bringing two very active area communities together.
"When I moved here I realized I wanted to get involved, and I felt that health care was so very important for this growing area," says Keith. He met Marcia Marvel, Executive Director of the Beebe Medical Foundation, and began volunteering to help raise money for Beebe Medical Center.
Once in the thick of it, Keith realized that over the years there really had been little communication between the medical community and the gay community.
The gay community, very use to community service and fundraising, really didn't have the hospital on its radar. Likewise, the medical community and Beebe staff, volunteers and donors were not consciously aware of the expanding gay presence in the area and how the hospital and its physicians might become educated about gay community issues.
Keith decided that the two groups could be natural allies and set out to do something about the communication gulf that existed.
"First, I approached Marcia to set up a meeting with hospital CEO Jeff Fried. After discussing the issue, we all agreed that something should be done to make sure that we were serving the entire community as well as possible."
According to Keith, "First on the list was to make sure, of course, that there was absolutely no difference in treatment, employment practices, or any other services. Secondly, to have Beebe Hospital reach out and become a Sundance sponsor."
From those first steps, came an alliance that continues to thrive.
Beebe published a Physician Directory and made it available through CAMP Rehoboth, while community volunteers were asked to assist the Beebe Foundation with their annual Art Auction and Thanksgiving Ball.
Committees began to see a new diversity in all areas of fundraising, advertising and event producing. Of course, the well-documented design talents of many of the gay volunteers began to show up in the dcor at the various fundraisers and events.
Once the volunteers got involved, then came donors and supporters from the gay community as well. "When I first came here, there were maybe 20 gay people attending the fundraisers. Now we see a hundred or more."
The events themselves have grown enormously, too, with fundraisers that used to draw 200 people, now involving upwards of 600 supporters.
"There's a very definite blend of the entire community now," says Keith, "and the new communications had opened doors for many people, both ways."
On the medical front, Keith and his colleagues have made an effort to educate physicians in the area about the growing gay community in Sussex County.
"So many doctors here had no idea about the large gay community. We made them aware that it was important to get their names out there, and welcome everyone in the community."
"I've had conversations with pediatricians, and other doctors about the many lesbians who are having children, and their needs," says Keith. One example he cited was the primary care doctor who changed his new patient paperworkrather than a patient choosing from "single, married or divorced," there is now a box to check for partnered as well.
Now that the dialogue has been opened and is flourishing, Keith still shows no signs of retiring and slowing down. He continues to work with design clients, while giving many, many hours to the Beebe Foundation and CAMP Rehoboth.
On the homefront, he and Steve Maslovich, his partner of three years, continue to participate in all manner of fundraising activities and events.
Preparations are now being made for the annual Beebe Art Auction and the many other volunteer opportunities available.
"As this area grows, with more and more people living here, health care becomes more and more important. I hope that everyoneincluding the gay community, but everyone in the arearealizes how important our medical community is for us," says Keith.
Asked how he feels about the work he has done for the Beebe Foundation, Keith reflects a minute and then says, "I personally feel I've accomplished a lot with my life here in helping the hospital and the Foundation to benefit the entire community. And I'm very proud of getting the communication going between the gay community and the medical community. We all benefit."
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 13, No. 1, February 7, 2003