May 7, 2004 – CAMP Profile
|by Mark Aguirre|
|A Conversation with Bob Harrison and Neil Frock
I first met Neil and Bob at a Rehoboth Beach Homeowners Association (RBHA) meeting a number of years ago. At the time they told me that they were planning to spend more time in Rehoboth and were getting involved with the community. Neil is currently vice president of the RBHA. Bob had said he has an interest in getting involved with animal welfare concerns and now works with the Delaware Pet Adoption Center (DPAC) and is on our city’s Animal Issues Committee.
What is DPAC? Bob: It’s a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organized to provide veterinarian care and adoption service for unwanted animals in the Rehoboth Beach/Sussex County area. While on Kent Street trying to trap feral kittens for taming and adoption I ran into William Grey who was doing the same. He told me about his forming of DPAC and I agreed to join him and work with him on our common goal.
What are DPAC’s plans? Bob: We will continue to reach out to help in any way we can where the welfare of animals is at stake. For example, we just did a free rabies vaccine clinic in West Rehoboth. We are also working on a spay/neuter program for dogs and cats in that area. We continue to spay/neuter and release feral cats in Rehoboth Beach.
Why are Trap/Neuter/Return Programs so important? Bob: I believe this is the humane solution to deal with our feral cat population. It’s simply humanely trapping, spaying/ neutering, and returning cats to the same location where they were trapped. This eventually will bring a zero population growth of the abandoned and feral cat communities.
Have you worked with other community leaders in the area? Bob: I’ve worked with representatives of the towns of Lewes, Dewey, and Ocean City on animal issue concerns. I’m delighted that Rehoboth has now opened up to an Animal Issue Committee, which I’m hoping will bring positive changes to the way that domestic and wild animals are viewed in our city.
Why is it you believe that lesbians and gays feel so strongly about their pets? Bob: Lesbians and gays are often excellent pet owners, because so many of us don’t have children. Animals help to fill that void in our lives.
What brought you to Rehoboth Beach? Bob: Having decided to take an early retirement from a successful twenty-two year real estate career; I was looking for a total change of pace and environment. With my property management experience we decided to buy an old guest house, which we renamed the Beach Retreat. We market it to large groups as it sleeps up to 26 people.
How did you and Bob meet? Neil: We met at a gay bar in Baltimore twelve and a half years ago. He was in Columbia and I was living in Baltimore city at the time. I was there for only a year, after I met Bob that was it. So I moved to Columbia to be with him.
Do you have a little known Rehoboth Beach pleasure? Neil: We like biking to Gordon’s Pond early in the morning. It’s very peaceful and rejuvenating.
How did you first get involved with the RBHA? Neil: Through an invitation from a concerned citizens group. They knew I had experience from four terms on my homeowners association in Maryland. There was a nice make-up of gays and straight people, and those new to the town.
How are gays represented on the RBHA board? Neil: At one point we had seven out of fifteen board members that were openly gay. It’s one thing to feel welcome, but another to have a seat at the table. I believe that the RBHA is the grassroots voice of the citizens of Rehoboth Beach. I think it’s important that this group’s mission is to educate and advocate on behalf of its members. We encourage anyone who is a Rehoboth homeowner to become a member.
Mark Aguirre, the first openly gay member of the Rehoboth Beach Board of Commissioners.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 14, No. 4 May 7, 2004