Kathy Casey is a Philadelphia girl born and raised. She moved to Baltimore in 1972 to attend Loyola College, receiving her BA in Psychology in 1975. In 1976, she began working in the Personnel Department for Bell of Pennsylvania. While working at Bell, Kathy went back to school, receiving her MA in Psychology in 1978; commuting from Philadelphia to Baltimore to again attend Loyola College. Always wanting to do more, Kathy continued her education and received a Master’s in Social Work from Catholic University in 1993.
In 1995, Kathy left Bell of Pennsylvania, and spent the next 20 years working in Community Mental Health with seriously mentally ill clients. In her first job as a social worker the pay was quite less than what she made with the phone company, and she commuted 100 miles each day. She says it’s “one of the best jobs I ever had”. She also worked for the Prince William County Community Services Board in Virginia as a therapist, and a supervisor; and, Laurel Regional Hospital in Maryland doing Psychiatric evaluations for their Emergency Room.
Kathy met her partner Jean at work. They have been together 25 years, and are engaged (not married). Both are clinical social workers, and each has a private practice here in Rehoboth Beach. They have four children, and four grandchildren. Kathy loves to play pickleball and golf, and is the President of the First State Pickleball Club which has 500+ players. Just ask her about pickleball— she won’t stop talking.
When did you start volunteering at CAMP Rehoboth?
Very early on because Natalie Moss is my best friend, so it was easy to get involved from the beginning. My earliest memories were the Black and White Beach Ball fundraiser when the membership program first started; Sundance, Starburst Gala, and the Splash summer dance. When Natalie asks, I am there. Natalie runs the best tally room for the Sundance Auction every year. My partner Jean and I both make ourselves available to CAMP whenever needed.
What’s your best memory volunteering here?
It’s Sundance, of course! However one of my best memories is standing in the ballroom of the Atlantic Sands Hotel when Steve and Murray made the first appeal for funds for CAMP to build a community center. I have been coming to Rehoboth since 1986 and experienced that tension in the community that wanted to keep Rehoboth “a family place.” It was brilliant of CAMP to mobilize this organization to take the high road in facilitating a better community. From the CAMP Mission statement “We seek to promote cooperation and understanding among all people, as we build, safe, inclusive communities’ with room for all.” That is my best memory because it was a critical time in our community and the Rehoboth Beach community to find the way forward. That meant everything to me, and I so admire all of the people who participated in making this an accepting community for all. Thank you, Steve and Murray, for having the vision, courage, and perseverance to create a culture of acceptance and welcoming.
Of the many events held by CAMP Rehoboth, which is your favorite?
Women’s FEST because of the entertainment, surge in community, and overall fun.
Favorite season here at the beach?
I love all of the seasons because of the changes. Spring, seeing the new foliage with so many beautiful colors. Summer, for all of the increased energy, events, beach, and playing outside. Fall, for slowing down and changing colors in the foliage. Winter, for the crisp clean air and walks on an empty beach looking for treasures washed up from the ocean. I love living here!
Name a childhood mentor or someone who influenced you while growing up.
My father was a key figure in my life because he was a very nice man who spent hours with me throwing the ball, teaching me tennis, ice skating, skiing, flying model airplanes, and giving me his best beliefs and values.
If you had an extra hour in the day, what would you do?
I would practice pickleball and golf.
Favorite U.S. city and why?
Baltimore. I went to college there in the ‘70s and fell in love with the row homes architecture and diversity of the community. I remember driving into the city and seeing people out washing their marble front steps and people sitting out on the steps talking with their neighbors. Now, 40 years later, two of our daughters and grandkids live there so we are there a lot. Baltimore remains a city with heart, baseball, a beautiful Inner Harbor waterfront, and an expanded upgraded Loyola University. “Charm City” is the perfect name because it is a cool city.
Best year of your life and why?
The year I changed my career from business to practicing mental health. I have had such a wonderful time doing what I do, and learning so much about people across time. It is such an honor to do this work. It really is not one year, but this fantastic journey I have taken to become who I am professionally and personally. There is such richness and complexity to human beings, families, and communities. I love being part of helping people become their best and working with couples to have a better relationship through better communication and understanding of each person. The year that changed my career was when I no longer had to worry about being gay. It took a while to accept that, but it has been true.
Favorite holiday and why?
Christmas because of family. Both by our memories of growing up, and new ones that are being created with friends, community, and with my partner, Jean. I see it as a time of celebration and gratitude for all that we have in our lives from family, partners, friends, and community. It can be pure joy. I also love the music!
The LGBT community has made significant progress in the fight for equality over recent years. Did you expect to see this in your lifetime? Why or why not?
I never imagined that this would happen in my lifetime. I grew up in the time of cinema portraying the death of each gay character and know too well the feelings of fear that came with being gay. Yes, we have come a long way, but our current politics has shown a resurgence of hatred and elitism. That has may people afraid of this underbelly of our society that those who live in the community are not accustomed to seeing. Matthew Sheppard’s death due to hate was not that long ago and I fear that this political climate gives license to those who hate us to act out on that hate.
Given the new political climate, are you concerned about the possible loss of rights for the LGBT Community?
I do not think that we will lose our rights. Too many people, straight and gay have stood up for our rights across the board. I am a bit nervous about the hatred more than the legality of our relationships.
Since you began coming to Rehoboth, name the biggest change you’ve seen.
The explosion of commercial and residential growth in the area. But, the biggest change is within my pickleball and golf community. A stunning moment for me was attending a dance with my pickleball club, looking across the dance floor and seeing gay and straight people dancing, laughing, and having a great time with each other. Not even a hint of anti-gay sentiment. It is what we all have dreamed of…being able to just be who we are within that larger community. I think that where I play golf, and within the pickleball community reflects that change which I think is the greatest change of all. This change really epitomizes CAMP’s mission statement. I am so grateful for that experience.
What are you most thankful for?
My life and the journey I have taken with friends, family, and community. I am also so thankful for my careers because they so influenced who I am. I am also grateful to my clients for having the courage to share with me their stories and allow me to take that ride to healing with them. It is an honor. Finally, for CAMP who made this a safe and welcoming community for all.
Kathy, thank you for the many years of volunteer service for CAMP Rehoboth. We’re glad you are Natalie’s friend, and when we call you come to help. CAMP Rehoboth didn’t get here alone; it took many people like you to help us along the way. We are extremely lucky to have volunteers like you.