A Wilmington, Delaware native, Joanne earned a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Delaware. She worked in Human Resources with the Bank of Delaware (now PNC) for 38 years, having designed their employee benefits program. After adding an “early retirement” option to the bank’s benefits package, Joanne took advantage of her own ingenuity and retired early, in 1994.
Joanne started spending weekends in Rehoboth in 1976 and moved here full time in 2004 after her mother, who lived in Wilmington, passed away. Her hobbies are “music, music, music” and this is made apparent by her membership in the CAMP Rehoboth Chorus, Milford Community Concert Band, the newly formed Rehoboth Concert Band, and St. George’s Chapel choir.
Joanne shares a Civil Union with Cissy Johnson. They met in 1981 when Joanne was looking for a realtor to buy a new home in Wilmington. As she puts it, “not only did I find a realtor and a house, I also found my life partner.” The couple has a dog, Maggie, who’s the same breed (Cairn Terrier) and color as Toto from the Wizard of Oz, “except she’s prettier than Toto,” says her proud momma.
When/why did you start volunteering at CAMP Rehoboth and what events/ activities have you been involved with since?
I believe I began volunteering for Sundance in 2004. I have to ask Kathy Weir about the many activities she had me scheduled for through the years; she had me working at lots of CAMP events. I’ve also attended every Women’s FEST since the beginning and I’m on this year’s Women’s FEST committee. Last year, I worked every second Saturday of each month in CAMP Rehoboth’s office. That was quite an eye opener. To see how hard everyone works to help the many who stop by or call in was inspiring. I have volunteered for numerous mailings, sold tickets at dances for Sundance and the former Love weekend, etc. throughout the years.
What’s your best memory volunteering here?
After having cancer and a lumpectomy last year, I joined the group of women for CAMP Rehoboth’s “Broadwalk on the Boardwalk.” It was most meaningful to be with all those women cancer survivors. I valued every minute of it.
What does CAMP Rehoboth mean to you?
I am grateful that Steve (Elkins) and Murray (Archibald) many years ago formed CAMP Rehoboth. It has helped me and lots of others, including those who don’t understand that there is “room for all.”
First thought that comes to mind when you hear the word “Rehoboth.”
How it has changed towards accepting the LGBT community, for which we have Steve and Murray to thank.
What’s your favorite thing to do in the off season?
Play cards with my friends.
If you could spend a full day with one person, who would it be? Why?
My partner, Cissy. She’s the love of my life. And Grace Kelly if she were still alive.
Lost! If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things would you want with you (other than food and water)?
My partner, Cissy, our dog, Maggie, and a Swiss Army knife.
Early bird or night owl? Why?
I have to be an early bird because of my early bird dog Maggie, who gets me up at 7 a.m. each morning.
You’ve won the lottery. What’s the first thing you’d do with the winnings?
I’d spread it around to family, friends, CAMP Rehoboth, and St. George’s chapel on Beaver Dam Road in nearby Harbeson (part of All Saints’ Parish on Olive Avenue in Rehoboth).
Favorite part of a wedding?
For years I said that it was injustice to the gay community, but I really can’t say that anymore. Times have certainly changed.
What was your best job ever? Worst?
Best…when I worked for Bank of Delaware I designed and implemented employee benefit plans. I really enjoyed helping employees out with providing good employee benefits. Worst …working for my brother doing taxes during tax season when I retired. That only lasted two tax seasons.
One favorite food? One food you’d never eat?
Anything Italian, like ravioli, gnocchi, manicotti, spaghetti, etc. I would never eat kale.
If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? Why?
Venice, my favorite city, almost bought a condo there. I just love Italy and especially Venice. In fact, we’re going back again in May.
What are you most thankful for?
That I’m a breast cancer survivor.
On behalf of the CAMP Rehoboth family, we’re all very thankful for that as well, Joanne. We thank you so much for the many years of volunteering you’ve offered here and we look forward to many more.
Know someone whose efforts should be considered for the CAMP Rehoboth Volunteer Spotlight? Email your suggestion.