|by Peter Rosenstein|
|The Community Center: An Exciting Future
It is exciting to see the GLBT Community Center in Rehoboth start to take shape. I think we owe a great debt to the Board of CAMP Rehoboth and the staff for helping to bring this vision closer to reality.
I know that it will take time to structure all the programs of the new community center and that the CAMP Rehoboth Board will move forward using the same process of managed growth that has made them so successful up until now. Many of us do remember the small office that CAMP Rehoboth started with in the back of the courtyard.
I think that part of the process will be to slowly separate the functions of CAMP Rehoboth from those of the Center they are building. I have recently had some conversations with members of the Board of CAMP Rehoboth and shared some of my thoughts. They have answered some questions that I had and that I know that many funders and staunch supporters of the Center and CAMP Rehoboth have had as well.
In some ways the easy part of building the community center has been accomplished. That is raising the money to buy the new building and to create the beautiful new wider and open courtyard. The harder part of any venture like this is to find the funds for the ongoing administrative costs of running the operation. My concerns that the new building, for which the community raised nearly $1 million so far, not be merely a larger office space for CAMP Rehoboth have really been alleviated after some of these discussions. I think that the board shares the vision that came out of the strategic planning sessions that they ran. That vision is for exciting programming, events and functions that will bring together our community and the rest of Rehoboth in new ways.
I shared my thoughts as to the possible structure of the organization as we build the Center and suggested that it may be important that the roles of CAMP Rehoboth, which has been so important to both our community and the growth of Rehoboth, and the role of the new Community Center they are building for the future, be defined in separate and distinct ways. CAMP Rehoboth, the parent organization, would continue to function as it has successfully for so many years as the organization that takes the lead in providing such services as diversity training to the Police Department, publishing Letters, running fundraising events like Sundance and the Follies, and in general continue to be the organization that speaks for the needs of the GLBT community in Rehoboth.
While they are continuing with these crucial roles which we as a community have come to depend on them for, the new arm of CAMP Rehoboth, the Community Center, will be able to move forward and sponsor new or existing events like the women's conference and will build up to housing and co-sponsoring a whole range of programs. Currently, even without new staffing, they are making themselves felt in the community by hosting seminars on financial planning, photography, legal services, and men's and women's health issues. Groups like AA will be able to move from Epworth Church, which will be moving out of town, to the currently available public rooms on the second floor of the Center. In addition, the expansion of the courtyard has allowed for new programming in conjunction with the Rehoboth Beach Film Society, "Films in the Courtyard," a fun event for the entire community. I know that this will be followed by other such events that the Community Center will sponsor on their own or co-sponsor with other Rehoboth organizations. The Community Center is now working to upgrade their ability to sell tickets to various Rehoboth events and helping groups like the Rehoboth Beach Sports Team to organize themselves around the Gay Games in Chicago next year.
From my conversations I learned that plans are there, once funding can be found, to move ahead with the great room to be built onto the back of the Community Center. This room will be able to be used for all kinds of events from commitment ceremonies to game nights, card parties and even be rented out to the community for private events. It will give the Center the ability to expand its work with institutions like Beebe Medical Center to do larger scale health screenings and health promotions for the entire community.
What I understand and I hope everyone else will is that all this takes time. I hope CAMP Rehoboth over the next few years can help people understand the separation of the roles of CAMP Rehoboth as the parent organization and the Community Center they are building. Currently the CAMP Rehoboth staff and some incredibly dedicated volunteers are working overtime, as if they haven't always, to try to run all these programs.
From the conversations I have had I now understand that it is the intent of the CAMP Rehoboth board, once ongoing funding can be found, to hire a professional Director for the Community Center. That person would then be responsible for the programs and the scheduling of the facilities of the Center. This person could have the responsibility of organizing and recruiting an advisory board made up of interested members of the community who would work with the Center to suggest and develop programs. Hopefully this advisory board would also assist in applying for grants from both the private and public sectors to enhance programming over the long run. What this will do is allow for broad community input into Center activities and to let all the creative minds in our community participate in making sure the Center is a success and serving the diverse needs of our community. We know that some of those needs may change as more and more of us reach retirement age and make Rehoboth our year round home.
I urge everyone to continue to support both CAMP Rehoboth and the Community Center they are building, as they move forward with these plans. It is important for the community to stay involved and to continue to make suggestions as to both programming and fundraising. What CAMP Rehoboth and the Center needs are ideas and suggestions on where to look for possible grants to build the Center's final physical building and then to hire its staff.
We have come a long way from the early days of CAMP Rehoboth and the times when people would throw eggs at the people on the front porch of the Blue Moon yelling "hey faggots" as they drove by. We are now a vital and integral part of the Rehoboth Beach Community involved in every phase of its growth and change. Our piece of the rock, as I call the Community Center on Baltimore Ave., is a monument to the hard work of so many people. But none of it could have been done without the leadership of Steve Elkins and Murray Archibald.
But it is because of their hard work we now have so many people in Rehoboth capable of contributing to our future. The Community Center will give everyone the opportunity to get involved and together we can continue to build CAMP Rehoboth and its Center to enhance the future of all of us who now and in the future will live, work and play in Rehoboth Beach and greater Sussex County.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 15, No. 12 August 26, 2005