Susan Reinagel grew up in the suburb of Philadelphia, Delaware County, and attended Archbishop Prendergast High School. Upon graduation, Susan entered the Sisters of Mary, a nursing and teaching order. This is where she began her spiritual journey. It was an experience that made a tremendous difference in Susan’s life. After Sisters of Mary, Susan attended St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, graduating with a BS in Education.
For 34 years, Susan taught at all grade levels. She started in a Catholic school with a third grade class, and then taught a GED program in Philadelphia to the American Indians of Delaware Valley. Susan went back to school where she earned a certification to teach Special Needs students. She moved to Mt. Laurel, New Jersey and taught Special Needs children in pre-school, elementary, and junior high school. Her final years of teaching were at the high school level in the Cherry Hill School District.
Since retiring, Susan stays busy with Tai Chi, pickleball, tap, bowling, golf, biking, walking, gardening, meditation, volunteering, church cooking, and knitting. As you can tell, she is busier than ever, and living her life to the fullest.
When did you start volunteering at CAMP Rehoboth?
CAMP Rehoboth has always impressed me on their unique outreach programs to everyone in our community. Therefore, when I retired I knew that I wanted to be part of CAMP. So, I started volunteering in 2012. For me taking time out and doing something in the hope it will help make a difference, however small, to someone else’s life was overridingly crucial for me.
What events/activities have you been involved with as a volunteer?
I first volunteered to be on the New Year’s Eve (Starburst Gayla) committee that ran an elegant dinner/dance. For three years we started planning in August to be able to open the doors to a transformed Convention Center in December. All who attended enjoyed delicious food, dancing, open bar, and even a dessert room to bring in the New Year.
I volunteer for the mailings at CAMP Rehoboth. I enjoy meeting and mingling with people who share a strong sense of pride and dedication.
Sundance is the biggest fundraiser for CAMP Rehoboth, and I help with serving the food the night of the auction.
Finally, I help during the Women’s FEST weekend at the pickleball tournament.
Of the many events held by CAMP Rehoboth, which is your favorite and why?
My favorite event is Women’s FEST weekend. I’m away all winter in Florida and it’s like my welcome back to Rehoboth party. And, of course the finale to this weekend is participating in the Broadwalk on the Boardwalk for cancer. This touches me on many levels because I am a cancer survivor, and to feel the love and support of friends is just pure healing energy.
Favorite season here at the beach and why?
I pick summer to be my favorite season because I love the warm weather, meeting up with friends on the beach, doing outside activities, the casual dress, and maybe because my birthday falls in the summer too!
If you had an extra hour in the day, what would you do?
OMG! For me, there aren’t enough hours in the day! If I had an extra hour a day I might just fit in one more activity, or I would read more.
Favorite U.S. city and why?
Philadelphia would be my favorite city. Living in Queen Village in the ‘80s gave me such great appreciation for all their splendid museums, the famous Italian market, the fabulous theatre shows, Broad Street with the entertaining mummers, the awesome South Street experience, and of course, all the spectacular historic areas with so many exquisite and delicious restaurants to choose from!
Night owl or early riser and why?
Thank goodness my alarm is not disturbing me at 5:30 a.m. for work anymore. But, I still do enjoy the morning because the earlier I rise, the longer my day, but maybe just not that early. I love waking up and setting my intention for that day before I’m off and running to one of my classes.
Best year of your life and why?
Reflecting back on a lifetime of heartwarming memories; I was honored in 1995 with the Governor’s Teacher Recognition Program. This distinction was given to teachers in New Jersey public schools. I was touched that colleagues and parents nominated me because I adored working with the special needs students. So, by receiving this recognition, it reinforced and demonstrated to me how fortunate I was to have such an exceptional job.
Favorite holiday and why?
This is challenging for me to pick just one favorite holiday because I love decorating my home for every celebration. Understandably, every holiday brings its own uniqueness and fun, but Christmas is my homerun. The joy in giving, decorating, baking, and participating in Christmas services surrounds me with contentment and happiness. It’s truly a magical time of the 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 and why or why not?
The LGBT community has made tremendous progress since 45 years ago when I was just coming out. I taught for 34 years next to my straight colleagues and never thought I would be able to cover my partner on a health insurance policy too. The first time the school announcements included where the Gay Club was meeting was exciting, and astonishing! Being a gay teacher, I spent most of my time hiding my true identity; always afraid of losing my job. I never thought I would ever be treated equally. And now, in my lifetime actually getting the right to marriage is astonishing and beautiful! We have come so far, and yet sadly there is still work to be accomplished. That’s part of why I volunteer at CAMP Rehoboth, to try and do my part.
How long have you been coming to Rehoboth?
In 2001 I was introduced to Rehoboth Beach and fell in love with this enchanting town. I find it charming and irresistible. I love the many wonderful festivals and fun activities year round. My parents retired to Ocean City, New Jersey. I always said I would be settling by the beach too. I’m so happy that Rehoboth Beach chose me!
Since you began coming to Rehoboth, name the biggest change you’ve seen.
The biggest change from 2001 until present that I have witnessed in Rehoboth Beach would be all of the new businesses that have opened, and the developments that continue to be built. This adds jobs for many people, but it also adds more traffic. To look on the sunny side, one could say that more gay people are buying homes so our family grows.
Name three events that have shaped your life to where it is today.
When I reflect back on my life, I must say the three things that shaped me as a person would be: First, my wonderful parents and family. I was taught beautiful values, love, and respect. Second, entering the Sisters of Mercy who directed, taught, and opened up my heart to spirituality. Third, meeting, loving, and taking care of my partner Sharon. She was a woman that could light up a room. She suffered a massive aneurysm and I became her caretaker. It showed me the real meaning of love. Loving Sharon made me a whole person, and her illness made me a strong woman. Without question, I would do it all over again!
Susan, thank you for your continued dedication to CAMP Rehoboth. We are very grateful to you for the time you spend volunteering for our organization. Volunteers like you have helped make CAMP Rehoboth succeed.