Milton-area seniors will soon have a new place to meet people and stay active, as CHEER Center officials unveiled plans for a new 6,000-square-foot activities center along Route 16.
At an April 9 ceremony, Executive Director Arlene Littleton said the $2.5 million facility will offer nutricous midday meals, activities and enough kitchen space to produce meals for one of the highest homebound senior populations in Sussex County.
“This is going to be a great addition to the Milton community,” she said. “We're very excited about it. The center has really earned it.”
The new center will be located just east of Milton on 4-acre plot off Route 16. The new building will feature an exercise center, conference room and office space and will also be available to the community to rent for group meetings, weddings and other activities.
CHEER is currently running its Milton operation out of a building it shares with the Eagle's Nest Church youth group. Littleton said sharing a building can create logistical problems.
“We'll be able to use it the hours we want, nights, weekends, early in the morning,” she said. “Right now we have to share the building, and it's kind of harder to do things.”
CHEER Development Director Dave Tidwell said the organization is looking to the Longwood Foundation, Delaware Community Foundation, U.S. Department of Agriculture and local legislators for grants and loans to fund for $1.5 million toward the project. The remaining $1 million will be raised in the community, he said.
“The community is going to benefit the most from this, and we think they'll be the ones behind it,” he said. “Most people in the community will usually support our mission because it's a good one.”
In the first week of fundraising, Littleton said, the organization was able to raise more than $6,000.
“We've got some good people helping us, and we don't think we'll have any problem raising the $1 million,” she said. “The sooner we raise it, the quicker we get in the building.”
She expects to hold a groundbreaking ceremony later this year and construction is expected to begin next March. She said she hopes the new building will be completed by the end of 2014.
“This has been long overdue,” said Tidwell. “This center really needs to be upgraded. I think there's a lot of enthusiasm in the community for it, and I think we'll do well.”
For more information or to donate, call 302-856-5187.