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History of the Rehoboth Beach Community Unity Dinner

History of the Rehoboth Beach Community Unity Dinner

by Patty Derrick, Co-Founder, Community Unity Dinner in 1994

The Rehoboth Beach Community was having a trying time in 1994, and many of us as members of the community wanted to find a way to make things better.

I have a vivid memory of visiting my dear friend, the late Billy Sheilds in November 1994. She was a long time City of Rehoboth Commissioner, and very much loved throughout  the community.  

We were sitting in her living room communicating about what we could do, brainstorming on how to do it.  Billy said  “Patty, why don’t you do a dinner of some sort for all, as your coming off as chair of the Centennial celebration for the City?  You know everybody! I can get the Convention Hall for you but I am pretty sure Sam Cooper (Mayor at the time) will give it to YOU.”  Well, I thought fast and said, “Okay, I’ll try.”  I remember her saying, “The sooner the better.”  I agreed.  


My immediate plan was to communicate with John Kleitz, President of Downtown Business Association at the time, to see if this organization would sponsor this new community dinner.  Billy and I started thinking about what the name would be, “What shall we call it”?  I answered back, “Community Dinner.”  she said, “Okay, but let’s say “Unity Dinner”.  And so the Community Unity Dinner was born.  This all happened in a matter of one hour. Deciding to have the dinner, asking for the Convention Hall, calling John Kleitz and getting permission to sponsor it and then Patty called Nicola’s and talk to Nick Senior and without hesitation he said sure Patty I’ll make you spaghetti dinners for 500 people.  It was an effort of many. Sadly, John pasted away this year.


I remember leaving Billy’s home and after immediately calling Mayor Sam Cooper. The Convention Hall was secured for the first Sunday in December, less than three weeks away. I was excited to tell John, and it was time to contact the Downtown Business Association Board  for a vote by phone.

At the time the Board consisted of my husband, Bob Derrickson, three others, President John Kleitz, and myself.   We all agreed.  John said, “Go for it!” and off I went to make the Community Unity Dinner a reality.

I was amazed! Within two days, I was able to get all the food for this event for free, because of the generosity of our downtown businesses.  Being a young Village Improvement Association (VIA) member,  I asked  my friend, Margaret Spurgat, VIA  Past President to help.  She helped get permission, and YES, VIA was the first to help us. This amazing group of ladies helped decorate, straighten tables, and clean up. I then asked all the dignitaries I knew in the county to serve.  They ALL said “yes.  At hat time it included George Bunting and John Schroeder.

The first Community Unity Dinner was set for the first Sunday in December.   The Whale , now Cape Gazette, did wonderful articles by yes Dennis and Trish, which helped spread the word. tremendously.  The downtown business then picked their first Citizen of the Year, which was awarded to Billy Shield’s. She obviously deserved it helping me name it and for so many reasons like her years of service as a Commissioner.

It was very successful, as about 500 attended with games for the children, music by Charlie Tumini, a magic show and Santa making an appearance. ….  And that’s the way it was……

As the 2018 Chair of the Community Dinner, I look forward to seeing many of the same faces, and new ones, as we gather this holiday season for the 2018 Community Unity Dinner, the way it was.


CITIZENS of the Year WINNERS from previous Community Unity Dinners

1994 – The late Billie Shields

1995 – Robert (Bob) Derrickson

1996 – Fasnacht Family Allen (oldest member) 

1997 – The late Mary Campbell

1998 – Nick and the late Joan Caggiano   

1999 – The late Elizabeth Hooper

2000 – Priscilla Smith

2001 – The late Richard Darley

2002 – John Schroeder

2003 – Bill Bahan  

2004 – Don Derrickson 

2005 – The late Steve Elkins        

2006 – The late Colonel, Jack Lingo and Family; John, Bill, Bryce, and the late Derrick Lingo.   

2007 – George Bunting

2008 – The Village Improvement Association 

2009 – Bette Gallo

2010 – Steve Crane

2011 – Patty Derrick 

2012 – Pat Coluzzi

2013 – Paul Kuhns







DATE: October 10, 2018

PRESS CONTACT- Karen Falk, Executive Director, Rehoboth Beach Main Street         Cellphone, 302-519-5093  


Rehoboth Beach Main Street (RBMS) is pleased to announce their Annual Sign and Awning Matching Grant Program available through 2018. This program is offered to businesses within City of Rehoboth Beach City Limits to help defray the costs of new signs and awnings.

According to Cindy Lovett, RBMS Design Committee Chairperson, “our goal is to create and maintain visual unity while enhancing the historic look of our historic downtown beach resort. This grant, available on a first come first serve basis, will reimburse applicants up to $500 of the cost for a sign or awning, with the total project cost of $1,000 minimum per building.”

Visit the RBMS website, https://www.downtownrb.com/sign-awning-grant/ for the grant application, application steps, requirements and guidelines.  For more information, contact Rehoboth Beach Main Street at 302-227-2772. 


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If you haven’t seen the website in a while, check it out here: https://www.downtownrb.com/.

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RBMS Executive Director Job Description

Rehoboth Beach Main Street, Inc.
Executive Director
Job Description

Job Summary:
The Executive Director of Rehoboth Beach Main Street, Inc. (RBMS), a 501 (c)3 nonprofit, dedicated Delaware Main Street program, is responsible for leading and guiding the organization’s commercial revitalization efforts in Rehoboth Beach’s downtown historic district by creating and managing projects and programs that promote downtown Rehoboth Beach, Delaware as a great place to live, work and play year-round. Rehoboth Beach, a one square mile community, is Delaware’s largest beach resort. With a vibrant downtown community of 200 plus businesses, the population of this coastal city is 1,327 (according to 2010 U.S. Census Bureau estimates) with seasonal populations of 25,000 during the peak summer months.

Job Knowledge and Skills required:
A successful candidate will be a self-motivated, enthusiastic professional with strong written and oral
communication, organizational and managerial skills, with experience in several or all of the following areas: economic development, nonprofit management, public relations, small business assistance and recruitment, volunteer management, fundraising, historic preservation, marketing, design and event planning. The Executive Director must be well-organized, enthusiastic and be able to work well with a diverse group of people – city/county/state leaders, independent business owners, commercial property owners, residents, visitors and volunteers as well as civic and community groups and nonprofit organizations. The Executive Director must be capable of overseeing and implementing Rehoboth Beach Main Street’s economic transformation strategies.

Bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience is preferred, as is affiliation with, a strong working knowledge of, or a willingness to learn about the National Main Street program and its standards. The Executive Director will be a passionate advocate for the Rehoboth Beach Main Street program.

Range of Duties:
Develop and maintain a strong Main Street organizational structure with a focus on ensuring that all
organizational resources – funding, community stakeholders, volunteers – are mobilized effectively. * Establish and maintain open lines of communication with RBMS Board of Directors and committees, assist with creation and implementation of work plans and the recruitment of volunteers to the committees. * Oversee the administrative aspects of the program including, but not limited to, record keeping, budget development and management, report preparation as required. * Represent the program at the national, state and local levels, including but not limited to, government officials, funding partners, community partners, volunteers and Rehoboth Beach business owners, commercial property owners and residents. * Develop ongoing public awareness of RBMS’s activities and develop a greater understanding among the business community of Main Street’s mission and goals. * Spend a minimum of 10 – 14 hours “per week” “on the street” visiting downtown businesses * Serve as an advocate for downtown economic development, design (beautification) and historic preservation issues. * Serve as a liaison with the City of Rehoboth Beach, along with Board of Directors, on downtown projects and
initiatives. * Pursue increasing expertise in the implementation of the “Main Street” model of downtown
revitalization by participating in statewide, regional and national training opportunities.

Hours: This is a full-time position. Hours will include nights and weekends as necessary.

Salary: Will be commensurate with experience and qualifications.

An interested candidate should submit resume, cover letter, and three (3) references to Edward Joseph
Chrzanowski, RBMS Board President at President@downtownrb.com with subject line to read Main Street ED Application.

No phone call inquiries will be accepted. Applications will be accepted until position is filled.

Electronic submissions only.

RBMS Banner Program Update!

Good day Friends!

We are delighted with the response to our Facebook posting regarding the Rehoboth Beach Main Street Beautification Committee’s presentation, more specifically our Banners Program! Thank you!! 🙏

Thirty-one (31), represents the number of lamp posts in the center island along Rehoboth Avenue from the circle to the bandstand. With your generous support, we have WELL exceeded the thirty-one sponsors needed for each of the thirty-one banners!! 👊 Because of the overwhelming support, we would like to, in unison, roll out phase two of the plan, the Sidewalk Lamppost Banners Program. This program, with the branding “A Year Round Downtown,” would focus on downtown events and civic organizations which promote Downtown Rehoboth Beach as a year round destination! 👍 While the larger center islands banners are for color and branding, these sidewalk light post banners are more streamlined in size and would allow a message to be conveyed to walking pedestrians through text and dates with designs specific to each event. These banners are to inform visitors of year round events and “drop a hint” encouragement to return throughout the year! 👍 Some examples are… the Gumbo Crawl, Rehoboth Marathon, Chocolate Festival, Buddy Walk, Sidewalk Sale, Health & Wellness Weekend, RB Kite Festival, Pearl’s Cherry Blossom Festival, Women’s Weekend, RB PRIDE, and so many more! In addition, civic organizations like… the Village Improvement Association, Homeowners Association, CAMP Rehoboth, Rehoboth Art League, the Convention Center, Library, Chamber of Commerce, Rehoboth Beach Mainstreet, and many more!

Also parts of the Rehoboth Avenue Beautification consideration are the replacement of the current trees along the Avenue’s center islands, which need to be replaced. In addition, we would like to incorporate into this launch a consideration for Baltimore and Wilmington Avenues as well as the First Street Shops, Lake Avenue and Christian Street! 👍 To help us sort out the overwhelming response to the banner campaign we have chosen the first thirty one (31) “Downtown Shops & Restaurants” to sponsor the first round of banners and will be reaching out to them individually this week. We will be reaching out to ALL who responded with support in hopes to transfer that support to one of the other aspects of the program which might feel right to them /fit their organization’s mission.

Lastly, this Beautification Committee Project is only one of many projects in the works at the newly re-energized Downtown Rehoboth Beach Main Street! We encourage EVERYONE to PLEASE show your support to this and all programs by becoming a member of our Organization! PLEASE go online to www.downtownrb.com, click “BECOME A MEMBER!” at the bottom right of the page, and become a member of Rehoboth Beach Mainstreet TODAY!! THANK YOU!! 🙏 We will be in touch with each of you very soon! 👊

A strong membership base will help us as we move forward working together with Mayor Kuhn, the city commissioners and city manager Sharon Lynn.  We will be in touch with each of you very soon! 👊

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Member & Partner Information

Rehoboth Beach Main Street works to promote downtown Rehoboth Beach as a year-round beach town with a vibrant commercial area, attractive signage and storefronts, a full calendar of events and economic programs benefiting the business and residential community.

RBMS offers several levels of membership including a Business Supreme Member Level for a $100 contribution with which the business receives a listing, description, photograph and link to it’s website. Click Become A Member to learn about the benefits of RBMS membership!

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Website Designed By: Techno Goober – Phone: (302) 645-7177 – Email: info@technogoober.com – Website: www.technogoober.com

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