Heavens To Betsy! Women's Conference is a Sell-Out!
|by Kelli Steele|
|If I hadn't known for a fact that my assignment called for me to spend a half-day at the Rehoboth Beach Public Library covering a Women's Health, Legal and Financial Conference sponsored by The Women's Project of CAMP Rehoboth, I would have sworn I was on the beach, on a hot July day, surrounded by wild and crazy lesbians.
I say wild and crazy because the first person I encountered outside the library on Saturday, March 24th, was Fay Jacobs who announced that she was the "greeter!" I think she may have volunteered for the outdoor post so she could enjoy the delicious aroma coming from a bakery a few doors away.
Once upstairs in the library's new conference room (which I might add is quite lovely), I became lost in an ocean of lesbians chatting about what they expected to learn from the event. One woman, amazed at the large crowd as she got off the elevator, smiled as she exclaimed, "Heavens to Betsy!"
The first Annual Health, Legal and Financial Conference was the result of a lot of hard work over the winter months by The Women's Project Committee."We had a huge response from women who wanted to attend today's conference," said CAMP Rehoboth's Kathy Weir, "but we had to cut off registration at 70, the maximum occupancy of the room."
"The Conference is an exciting opportunity for information sharing and networking," said Women's Project chair, and CAMP Rehoboth board member, Maggie Shaw. "It's one of the great ways that the CAMP Rehoboth umbrella is expanding to meet the growing needs of our community."
The first hour of the conference, addressing women and their finances, was presented by Barbara Passikoff, a financial representative from Lincoln Investment Planning. She discussed smart investments strategies, insurance coverage and protection, and other dollars and sense topics.
"Financially, the lesbian community far exceeds other groups of people," Barbara said, "due in part to discretionary income available to lesbians as a result of job status and, in many instances, no children to support. Plus, there is the opportunity for gains between two partners as they invest jointly." She went on to say, "There is a pretty decent accumulation of dollars available to the lesbian community."
Barbara spoke of ways to protect yourself financially, as an individual and in case of separations from a committed relationship. "There are ways in which investments should be wisely made, other than the normal investment routes," she said. "One of them is a concept called 'Hers, Hers and Ours.'"
After the roar of laughter died down, she continued, "The 'Hers, Hers and Ours' concept is very significant, so that you can remain independent as well as interdependent with singular accounts and Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship. When one partner predeceases the other, the JTRS allows all monies to go to the surviving partner instead of to families or other potential heirs."
Barbara's basic message was, "Finances require a very special effortplanning, preparation, knowledge and execution."
After a bathroom break and basic chitchat among the forces (you know how women can be when they get into groups), the podium was turned over to Ellen Feinberg, an attorney in Rehoboth with a practice in civil law.
In discussing legal issues important to lesbiansincluding: Wills, Power of Attorney, adoption, and real estateEllen said, "I recommend that everyone have a Will and Power of Attorney. I also believe everyone in this room should be aware of different options for holding title to real estate and also some of the latest developments with respect to adoption."
As the crowd listened intently, Ellen continued, "For instance, there are two different kinds of adoptions: one being a delta adoption in which lesbian partners are actually adopting each other" STOP!!
This statement, as you may have guessed, caused the room to erupt with laughter. A woman sitting behind me said out loud what was on everyone's mind, "Doesn't that mean I'd be sleeping with my mother?"
Once the laughter died down, and the tears were wiped away, Ellen was able to continue.
"There are many reasons for adopting your partner, including legalization of your relationship and preventing claims against the first partner who dies," she explained. "The second type of adoption is one you typically think of as involving minor children. In Delaware, a lesbian who is single and a straight person who is single are treated the same with regard to adopting a child. We are now seeing cases where the partner of a lesbianwho is already an adoptive parentis seeking to adopt that child also, becoming the second parent."
Ellen summarized by saying, "My goal in being here today was to get every one of you thinking about protecting yourself and your partner."
Following more chitchat, the third speaker, Nancy Bearss, PAC, MPH, spoke about women's health needs, including choosing a physician and patient rights.
As she looked out from the lectern, Nancy's first comment was, "I don't think I've seen this many women in a public library since the early 70s."
Nancy began with her philosophy, saying, "I think today, women need to look at health holistically. First, you need to assess your health by understanding your body, your risks, your resources, your community, and finally, your support."
"Knowing your body, your family history, your own history of any and all previous illness, your reproductive history and hormonal exposure, and your current illnesses and medications," she continued, "has a huge impact on who you are, and how you will be treated."
She addressed questions regarding menopause, breast and ovarian cancer, heart disease, and drug and alcohol addictions. "Women can reduce their risks of various diseases by doing several things," Nancy said. Her advice?
The conference was a huge success. Thanks to the Women's Project committee: Ellen Feinberg, Joan Glass, Fay Jacobs, Lesley Rogan, Maggie Shaw, Libby Stiff, and Bea Wagner for the hard work and preparation. Ladies, it couldn't have been done without you, and I'm sure I speak for many other lesbians in saying I am looking forward to next year's conference.
Kelli Steele is a Press and Policy Assistant to Delaware Governor Ruth Ann Minner.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 11, No. 3, Apr. 6, 2001.