A Volunteer’s Volunteer: Eric Engelhart
I’ve written this column for six years and have featured over 100 amazing volunteers. I will be turning over the reins in 2016 and, as the saying goes, I’ve saved the best for last. While I may be a bit biased on that point, my last Volunteer Spotlight is my ever-supportive husband, Eric Engelhart.
Born and raised in Feasterville, PA (Bucks County), Eric graduated from Neshaminy High and later attended Penn State University where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management. In the spring of 1989, he caught the eye of the graduate student teaching one of his classes. It was truly love at first sight and we’ve been together ever since.
After college, Eric worked in the hospitality field for the next ten plus years before making a career change into the building industry. In 1997 we bought our first home in New Hope, PA, where we lived for the next nine years.
Our first visit to Rehoboth together was in 1991, when my mother and stepfather (Marie and Ken Haag) brought us here for vacation shortly after they were married. Several years later, we returned for a weekend, then a week, and then a summer rental for the next few years.
In 2003, we bought a second home in Rehoboth with the goal to “early retire by 55.” Like so many others, we quickly fell in love with Rehoboth and made the full-time move just over three years later.
Eric has been employed for the last nine years at Boardwalk Builders as their Production Coordinator. He enjoys cooking, entertaining family and friends at home, working out, running, travelling, and spending as much time as possible with our Boston Terrier, Abbey, and cat, Chloe.
When did you start volunteering at CAMP Rehoboth, and in what events and activities have you been involved?
I really don’t recall, probably in 2007 or ‘08. Truth is, I likely didn’t know I was volunteering until it was already happening. My husband is tricky like that. I’ve volunteered for Sundance, July 4th pool parties, Bachelor Auctions, Sundance 5K, Christmas parade and float building, Well-Strung, and other concerts, and the recent Block Party.
What’s your best memory volunteering here?
Sundance 2011, when Chris proposed to me on the stage at the Auction. I didn’t have a clue, even though I noticed that all our friends were recording him as he was about to get down on one knee.
Of the many events held by CAMP Rehoboth in our 25 years, which is your favorite and why?
Definitely Sundance! I love the Auction because it brings out so many people and also the Dance, because Chris and I love to dance! I do have to say that the first ever Block Party, held last month, is also at the top of my list. It brought out all kinds of people, many who had never heard of CAMP, and the entertainment was awesome. The idea was a dream of Chris’ since he joined the Board and I’m so proud of him for pulling it off.
Celebrating a quarter century as a local LGBT non-profit, please tell us about a special anniversary you’ve celebrated over the last 25 years.
Well, that would have to be celebrating our anniversary with my husband of 26 years. Every year is a blessing!
Favorite season here at the beach and why?
I don’t have just one, it’s really the off season, in general, because we get our town back to ourselves.
Name a childhood crush, mentor, or someone who influenced you while growing up.
I definitely had a crush on Cory Hart (Sunglasses at Night)! In the mid-’80s, I went to one of his concerts with my “girlfriend” (she had no idea) and we had front row seats. Cory even sweated on me! I practically fainted, lol. I still have a life-size poster.
Favorite U.S. city and why?
Love San Francisco! Such a beautiful city…with great restaurants, people and the wine country is close by.
Best year of your life and why?
2012...the year I was able to walk down the aisle and make Chris my husband. We waited so long, 23 years to the day to be exact. He’s the best thing that has ever happened to me.
Favorite holiday and why?
Christmas, of course. We get to see so many friends and family, and celebrate Chris’ birthday, which is Christmas day. PS…SHHH...he turns 50 this year!
The LGBT community has made significant progress in the fight for equality over recent years. Did you expect to see this in your lifetime?
Not at all! It was hard to imagine that we can stand here today and be married, when as a teenager I thought I would have to live my life in the closet. Now the door has been thrown open, the hinges are broken off, and we can finally live more equally.
Name three events that have shaped your life to where it is today.
1) Going back to college (We Are...) after taking two years off; 2) Meeting Christopher, which would not have happened if I didn’t go back to college; 3) Visiting Rehoboth Beach over 20 years ago!
Describe an ideal date night.
Pretty typical...Chris, myself, one of our favorite restaurants, good food, wine, and, the best part, getting to hold the hand of the man I love across from me.
What are you most thankful for?
Plain and simple, Christopher!
That feeling is mutual, Eric. Words can’t describe what you mean to me and how incredibly proud I am to be your husband. Here at CAMP, and like so many, you’re one of those behind the scenes kind of volunteers, who always shows up, gets the job done, and expects no recognition for doing so.
On behalf of the staff and Board of Directors at CAMP Rehoboth, our thanks for your continued dedication. I’m so happy to have been able to thank you publicly. I love you.
As I close out this column, one final word of thanks to all of the wonderful volunteers I’ve had the pleasure to get to know a bit better through bringing this column to you, our supporters. I look forward to reading about many more yet to come. Happy Holidays.
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