(Editor’s note: Chris, of course, usually writes this column, but I wanted to make sure that he is also recognized as a valuable CAMP Rehoboth volunteer.)
Born and raised in Danville, PA, Chris earned a Bachelor’s degree from Bloomsburg University in 1988, and a Master’s from Penn State in 1993. It was there that he met his future husband, Eric Engelhart.
Chris and Eric bought their first home in New Hope, PA in 1997. In 1998, after 10 years working in hospitality operations, and management, and as a corporate Director of Training and Development, Chris took a leap of faith and entered the mortgage industry. Three years later he established an independent mortgage brokerage that he operated for the next five years.
In New Hope, Chris served on the Board of Directors of the New Hope Chamber of Commerce, and in 1999 was elected to the Board of FACT (Fighting AIDS Continuously Together) Bucks County, where he served for seven years, including terms as Vice President and President.
He and Mychal Harrison, founded the New Hope-Lambertville AIDS Walk in 2000. The two became best friends, along with Eric, and, in its 15th year, cumulative monies raised have surpassed $1,000,000.
Chris and Eric began vacationing in Rehoboth in ’96. They rented a beach house with friends for several summers and in ’03, bought a second home. Their initial goal was to retire by 55, but those plans were accelerated as they made the full-time move in ’06, when Chris began working with GMAC Mortgage.
In the spring of 2010, Chris transitioned into full-time real estate and has been an agent at Berkshire Hathaway, Gallo Realty ever since. Post civil union passage in 2011, he and Eric combined their love of hospitality into a business called Flair, Event Planning Services.
Chris currently serves on the Board of Equality Delaware, and was elected to the CAMP Rehoboth Board in 2009, now serving as Vice President. The couple reside in Rehoboth, along with their fur-kids, Abbey and Chloe.
When did you start volunteering at CAMP and what events/activities have you been involved with?
In 2006, I ventured into the Convention Center to see if I could help with Sundance. Working with the décor team was a good match for me and, like so many, I’ll never forget the first time I was taught to do linens the “Murray way.” I’ve worked with the Black and White Beach Ball, the former Love Weekend, and since joining the Board in 2009, founded the Sundance 5K in 2010, coordinated CAMP’s float in the annual Holiday Parade since 2010, renewed the Bachelor Auction, helped to coordinate 6 Futcher Drive’s annual 4th of July Pool Party (2010-present), among other events and fundraisers.
What’s your best memory volunteering here?
While many, foremost in my mind, however, was in the form of advocacy. For a kid from rural PA who never thought he’d see the day where he could marry the love of his life, being asked to testify for the civil union and marriage bills here in Delaware, along with you, our dedicated and talented Executive Director, and my dear friend, was a memory I will treasure the rest of my life. I was incredibly proud to be in Legislative Hall, representing CAMP Rehoboth and the voices of so many same-sex couples across this great state, telling our stories of love and asking for fairness and equality. We prevailed!
What’s your favorite CAMP Rehoboth event and why?
Sundance. For over a quarter century, it’s been the most successful fundraiser of this amazing organization. Working under Murray’s leadership and vision, the volunteers develop a camaraderie and sense of pride in achievement that is difficult to explain. Many of you reading this and shaking your head in agreement right now know exactly what I mean. It’s a beautiful thing.
Favorite season here at the beach and why?
The fall. Like so many of us who fell in love with Rehoboth in the summer, there’s nothing like the beach in September and October. The ocean is at its warmest, the crowds have lessened, and we can find parking!
Best year of your life and why?
1988-1999. While losing my beloved maternal grandmother that year was the low point, I became the first person on my mother’s side of the family to graduate from college (Bloomsburg University), began my graduate education at Penn State, and met a handsome student there named Eric Engelhart.
Favorite holiday and why?
I’ve always loved Christmas, not only because it’s my birthday, but for nearly 25 years, Eric and I have established so many traditions…decorating, cookie day(s), Christmas eve and day with my mother and stepfather, dinner parties with close friends, and savoring as many moments together as possible. I would be remiss if I didn’t add that year after year my mother and Eric have made sure there’s dedicated “birthday time” (Christmas night) and it has always meant the world to me.
You’re given the ability to name the 11th commandment, what would it be?
Thou shall not discriminate against anyone for any reason, ever!
Name three events that shaped your life to where it is today.
In 1988, the decision to attend grad school at Penn State and teaching a class where I’d meet a student whom I’d fall in love with and marry 23 years later. In 1999, being elected to the Board of FACT Bucks County. Not only did I/we meet a best friend in the process, but it began a 15 year run of volunteering and serving the community. In 2003, buying our second home here in Rehoboth. Our next door neighbors, Kim Grim and Kelly Phillips, became two of our best friends, and because Kim and I both worked in the mortgage industry (she still does), she recruited me to work with her. Our plan then was to move here full time and early retire by 55. That would have been the year, 2020. Instead, it happened in 2006. As the saying goes, it all happens for a reason.
Your best vacation ever was to?
Our San Fran trips have been wonderful, and we travelled to Sydney, Australia for our 40ths, but our best vacation was our honeymoon to Paris in April, 2013. The most romantic city, with the man of my dreams. It was the trip of a lifetime.
What are you most thankful for?
So much! Amazing friends, our supportive families, and our chosen family…you all know who you are. Our beloved, Abbey, and her sister, Chloe. Our godson, Calder. Our home. Living in Rehoboth. The special relationship I’ve shared with my beautiful mother, Marie Haag, for my entire life. My stepfather, Ken. And last but not least, I’m most thankful for my husband, Eric. Thank you, honey, for showing me that loving a man was completely normal and for teaching me what true love is. You complete me and have made me the luckiest guy in the world. I love you.
Chris, we are so appreciative of the years you (and Eric) have spent working with CAMP Rehoboth. You make our lives so much better!
Know someone whose efforts should be considered for the CAMP Rehoboth Volunteer Spotlight? Email your suggestion.