In Black & White
|by Beth Cohen|
|The following is the text of the speech delivered by CAMP Rehoboth Development Advisory Board chair Beth Cohen at the Black & White Beach Ball on May 31, 2008 at the Atlantic Sands Hotel on Baltimore Avenue.
Welcome to the seventh annual Black and White Beach Ball, where we get to celebrate community, acknowledge CAMP Rehoboth's great achievements, recognize that our contributions have enabled CAMP Rehoboth to do great things, and just have a good time.
Let me ask you a question. How many of you in the room have contributed to CAMP Rehoboth in some way or another, whether with your dollars, your volunteer time, your artwork, your items for a CAMP auction, or in any other way? Please raise your hands and hold them up for a minute. That's impressive. Almost every hand is up and some of you have both hands up. Well, CAMP Rehoboth is now in its 18th year and it is because of you and many others who are not here tonight that this organization has been able to grow and strengthen and continue to "create a more positive" Rehoboth. Thank you, thank you, thank you, and thank you again. We can't say it enough.
You're probably now asking yourselves: "Who is this person?" I am Beth Cohen and I have recently been honored to be appointed chair of the new CAMP Rehoboth Development Advisory Board. I am honored because I am in awe of the impact CAMP Rehoboth has made on this community in which I now live and I want to be involved in continuing to build for the future. It's why my partner Fran Sneider and I were Founders' Circle contributors and why we've already contributed to the $330,000 "Open the Door" campaign.
For me, the value of CAMP Rehoboth, in addition to the wonderful programs, events, activities, etc is the overall organizing of the gay community. According to Fay Jacobs, CAMP Board member and Executive Director of Rehoboth Main Street, in several other communities with large gay populations but without an organizing umbrella like CAMP Rehoboth, residents and other organizations are floundering. Unlike here, they don't have a central organizing body to: Be the "go to" spokesperson for local and regional media regarding gay issues. CAMP does this. Advocate with city, county and state officials on gay issues. CAMP does this. Publicize all the events and programs going on for gay people. CAMP does this. Intervene to help gay residents in discriminatory situations. CAMP does this. Inform newcomers of the diversity and scope of the gay community. CAMP does this. Forge relationships with city, county and state legislators to change hearts and minds. CAMP does this. Network and reach out to the straight community by building bridges. CAMP does this. Work with the local hospital and other health providers for gay sensitivity and inclusion. CAMP does this. Work with local religious organizations for gay sensitivity and inclusion. CAMP does this. Make the community in which we live a place with room for all. CAMP certainly does this.
We have come a very long way in Rehoboth Beach and the surrounding areas. Couples can comfortably hold hands walking down the street, not as a statement, but because it's a natural thing to do. I personally don't feel like I have to make that decision of whether to come out or not every time I'm in a new situation. The atmosphere here is one where we can be comfortable and just another part of the community. CAMP Rehoboth has been instrumental in setting up the atmosphere. And I for one am most grateful
We, the folks in the room who have come to celebrate, are also among those that have supported and will continue to support the organization that has brought us so far, so it can keep up what's already been built, and continue to build for the future. There are several folks around the room who are wearing stickers that say "Ask Me How!" They are members of the Development Advisory Board and members of the CAMP Rehoboth Board. If they don't approach you to let you know what you can do, please find one of them. Yes, this is the fundraising pitch. The board members have cards and will gladly talk to you about the short term and long term needs. Before we move to the auction, I'd like to leave you with an idea of how a group of people can get together and accomplish much in a short period of time. A group of women decided to underwrite the cost of something on the angel list, perhaps the women's room. In the past 2 weeks, they've raised over $60,000 and are continuing to build. Tonight, I received a challenge from a Founders' Circle member who will give $10,000 if we can get another $10,000 donor. We have the ability to make things happen as groups and as individuals. Again thank you all your support and keep it coming.
Beth Cohen is Chair of the CAMP Rehoboth Development Advisory Board.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 18, No. 07 June 13, 2008