Past President’s Message
In March of 2020, as with the rest of the country, the regular activities of the Village Improvement Association of Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, Inc. (VIA) came to a halt because of Covid-19. All of the usual fundraising events had to be cancelled, including the 2020 Designer Show House, Bingo, the Art of Accessorizing, the St. Nicholas Tea, a Wine Tasting event, and several fundraising dinners. During this restrictive time VIA volunteers were still able to provide 16,269 hours of volunteer service to our Rehoboth community.
This Administration had a theme – it was “Willing Hearts and Helping Hands”. In every newsletter, I ended the “President’s Message” thanking the membership for their “Willing Hearts and Helping Hands”. I wanted to impress upon the membership how important their hearts and hands are for the success of this organization, The Village Improvement Association of Rehoboth Beach. We have an incredible 113 year history and we are again moving forward to the future.
The VIA’s Vision Statement reads that “It is the vision of the Village Improvement Association to shape the future by providing caring volunteers and funding, as well as ensuring positive impact for people and organizations in need.”
What a time we had together during the 2020-2022 two-year period trying to live up to the aspirations of our Vision Statement. The Officers, Directors, and Chairmen at every level and in every area were remarkable rallying to ensure that the Village Improvement Association thrived during a time that was so difficult for everyone. The membership rallied behind our VIA leaders and volunteered, and donated time and money to almost every project brought forward for consideration. Because of “Zoom” (a relatively new telecommunication computer program at the time that provided for small and large remote group meetings through the internet on personal computers) and our superb IT Team, not a single monthly VIA meeting was missed during this administration because of the Covid-19 Pandemic. None of the 8 scheduled Executive Board meetings were missed – actually we had an additional 8 Special Executive Board meetings to insure that our projects, activities and business went forward.
I want to thank my Dear Katybug Ladies: Adrienne Stitzel, Carol Hall and Roxanne Nelson – for taking on this President’s Community Impact Program. Katybug is the Pediatric Program of Delaware Hospice – located here in Sussex County. I appreciate your dedication to this program. The VIA gave monetary donations totaling $10,500, and gift bags for the cancer patients, and their siblings – filled with age appropriate items for personal care and enjoyment, beautiful blankets and hats made by our Caring Stitchers - Thank you everyone
After more than a year of absence from the clubhouse due to the Pandemic, the membership eagerly anticipated being able to return for regular monthly meetings and fundraising activities in September 2021.
During 2021, VIA volunteers were able to serve the Rehoboth Beach community by performing over 18,856 volunteer hours for our projects. Members donated $28,893.42 of their own money as Gifts in Kind to support these projects. In addition, we collected $2,500 for gift cards and clothes to donate to Cape Henlopen high school students and seniors in local nursing facilities. Thanks to our fundraising events and the public support of those events, the VIA was able to donate an additional $28,000 to our charities that included Beebe Healthcare, the Margaret H. Rollins School of Nursing, Delaware Hospice Pediatric Program - Katybug, Lighthouse for Broken Wings-A Sheltering Heart, Rehoboth Art League, Friends of the Rehoboth Beach Public Library, Rehoboth Beach Main Street, Sussex Family YMCA, the Blood Bank of Delmarva, Delaware Center for the Inland Bays, Kody’s Kids Inc., Cape Henlopen Educational Foundation, Cape Henlopen Senior Center, the Community Resource Center, the Rehoboth Beach Volunteer Fire Company and the Boardwalk Buddy Walk. VIA Volunteers also assisted with maintaining a supply of books for the Adult and Children’s free Book Boxes on the side of the Clubhouse grounds, volunteering at the Rehoboth Beach Farmers Market, staffing of the Kiosk during the summer months, working at The Community Unity Dinner, as well as participating in the Christmas Parade.
The City of Rehoboth Beach also supported the VIA during this time. Most significantly, with the installation of new sand fencing around the dune property facing the boardwalk and the ocean. The City also graciously assisted with the installation of the VIA’s 5th Historical Marker on April 14, 2022 at the Bandstand. Mayor Mills’ recognition of the work done by the VIA in recent and in past years was exceptionally kind. During the administration of our incoming President Kate McKenzie, the VIA will celebrate its 115th year of service to Rehoboth Beach.
Founded in 1909, through two World Wars, the Great Depression, and on to recent times, the VIA has celebrated 112 years working within the Rehoboth Beach and greater Henlopen Community by providing volunteer service and financial assistance to local groups and organizations. Five Historical Markers placed within Rehoboth Beach mark the contributions of the VIA over the years. As a 501(c) 3 organization, with the exception of the pandemic years, since 2012 the VIA has raised a yearly average of $75,000 to support donations to improve our community, which we have done with much pride. Most of our fundraising activities occur at the VIA clubhouse. We are members of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC) and the Delaware State Federation of Women’s Clubs (DSFWC).
With all the projects that were offered this administration, I think our VIA History will reflect that one would hardly know that a world-wide pandemic was raging, while the VIA safely carried on its volunteer work. We kept each other safe, were able to meet and hold some meetings in person, and were able to conduct some Fundraisers in person too. Our Officers, Directors, and Chairmen made it work. You should be very proud of your accomplishments! I am very proud of you and your willing hearts and helping hands.
Thank you for allowing me the privilege to serve as your President during this time.
Ann Sebastian, President 2020-2022