Shelley Couch: Women’s FEST Dynamo
Having lived in San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Salt Lake City and Austin, Shelley grew up on the coast in southern California, “where the citrus orchards met the sea. My roots run deep—salt water runs through my veins, I hug trees every chance I get, and bare feet in warm sand replenish my spirit.”
Shelley holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology/Psychology for the Hearing Impaired, as well as a Mortgage Banking degree and has pursued graduate studies in Global Business. She spent over 27 years crafting leading (sometimes “bleeding”) edge business solutions in the Information Technology (IT) industry, with strategic global alliances and leveraged tech education models being her primary focus. Her career aligned her with highly innovative personalities and when new models were launched and sustainable, “I’d look for the next challenge. Maintaining the status quo in business isn’t my forte.”
She and her life partner, Lauren, moved to Delaware a little over three years ago for Lauren’s work. The couple admits to knowing very little about DE at that time, and the only thing they knew about Rehoboth was that it had the word “Beach” in the name. “That was enough to get me packing! When we first strolled around town I think our jaws dropped open…what were all of these marvelous lesbians doing in Delaware?” They still find their good fortune hard to believe and are grateful for the diverse and progressive community they’re now able to call “home.”
Shelley is now employed by Rehoboth Beachcomber. She and Lauren reside in Lewes with their fur-baby doggies: Bacchus, Suki, Baxter, and one cheeky feline, Calvin, “who is the boss of all of us.”
When did you start volunteering at CAMP Rehoboth and what events/activities have you been involved with since?
Being new to the area, this is my second year of volunteering. I met CAMP volunteer rock star Dottie Cirelli in the fall of 2013. I wasn’t familiar with Women’s FEST when Dottie lured me to CAMP but by the end of the first meeting I had signed on to handle Public Relations for the event. The next few months were a flurry of activities. During that time I got to meet and work with Steve and Murray and was, and remain, in awe of the positive impact they and all of you have had on this gem of a community.
What’s your best memory volunteering here?
This year for Women’s FEST one of my goals was to help minimize the event workload for CAMP staff. I jumped at the chance to automate FEST ticket sales and processes. FEST Passes are tricky because they come with a choice of benefits and for several weeks and countless hours I wrestled with how to best automate them. Everything else was set to go except those pesky FEST Passes. It was literally days before ticket sales went “live” that I sat across from Barb Ralph at CAMP and lamented my predicament: CAMP staff and FEST volunteers would still be required to manually handle 350 FEST Pass entertainment tickets and all that goes along with that.
Barb is a great listener and a deep thinker. She heard me out, crossed her arms, leaned back in her chair and gave my concern some thought. Then she looked me square in the eyes and said, “What if we did it this way...?” She went on to offer her thoughts on how FEST Pass ticket sales could best be managed. After a minute or two of silence as we both thought things through, I looked at her and said, “I think you may have a genius idea!” The rest is history. Barb’s eleventh hour save completed the implementation plan for full automation for all Women’s FEST tickets and will save CAMP staff and FEST volunteers every bit of one hundred plus hours in processing and fulfillment time. It was a real Hail Mary! (Or should we say, Hail Barb!)
Favorite season here at the beach and why?
Spring transitioning to summer, and summer moving into early fall are favorite times for our family. We’re on the beach when the sun rises watching our three dogs run with the wind and with a sense of freedom and joy that fills us with happiness.
Name a childhood mentor or someone who influenced you while growing up.
My grandmother played a significant and tremendously meaningful role in my upbringing and we were best friends. We genuinely shared unconditional love for each other and that’s a very powerful thing. It defies words. She’s no longer in the physical but she’s all around and within me.
Best year of your life and why?
Every year is the best year of my life and I’m not being corny. I’m blessed with a partner who knows my idiosyncrasies and shortcomings and still, she sticks by my side; my fur-babies treat me like I’m the best thing since chopped liver every time I enter the house; we have wonderful people in our lives that we have the great honor to call friends, and a community center that fosters the values we hold dear. Life is good!
Favorite U.S. city and why?
San Francisco is a wonderful city and it is where I came out. It holds special memories.
Night owl or early riser and why?
I’m definitely not an early riser. Ideally, I’m a late morning, early afternoon type of person.
The LGBT community has made significant progress in the fight for equality over recent years. Did you expect to see this in your lifetime and why or why not?
I, of course, hoped to see the progress, but the past five years have been remarkable. I take time to acknowledge and appreciate the progress, and then it’s right back to continuing the push for LGBTQ equal rights and zero discrimination across the board.
Describe an ideal date night.
It would be warm and tropical with a light breeze and a full moon…an outdoor, candle lit dinner with Lauren, great wine, and the ocean gently lapping at our bare feet. Just us.
What are you most thankful for?
I’m infinitely thankful for every day that I get to spend on this beautiful, tiny blue planet.
Since starting to volunteer with us, Shelley, you too have become a “rock star.” Your contributions have already been substantial and we’re grateful for your willingness to take on leadership roles. On behalf of the staff and Board of Directors, we extend our sincere appreciation to you and we look forward to working with you for a very long time.