CHEER officials,accompanied by local politicians and members of the public, broke ground on a new activity center in Milton Aug. 2
Located on Route 16 about a mile east of town, the new facility will be about 6,200-square-feet, featuring a dining room, Fit-N-Fun exercise area, conference room and state-approved commercial kitchen. The building will also be available for the public to rent.
"What brought CHEER to Milton was growth – growth of the community, growth of the senior population and, most relevant to CHEER, growth of the needs of those age 50 and above living in the service area," said Ken Moore, senior management analyst for CHEER.
The CHEER Nutrition Program in the Milton area, which provides healthy meals to homebound seniors, grew 24 percent from 2009 to 2012 and now provides nearly 38,000 meals per year. The number of visitors to the activity center has also increased, Moore said.
CHEER is currently running its Milton operation out of a building it shares with the Eagle's Nest Church youth group. CHEER opened its Slaughter Neck center in 1974 and remained there until 2010, when it moved to Mt. Zion Holy Church on Front Street in Milton. A year later, it moved to its current location in the former Clyde Betts Feed Store on Route 16, about a mile east of the future facility. The organization hopes to be in the new building by the end of 2014.
CHEER is still in the midst of its fundraising campaign to pay for the new building, an estimated $2.5 million. So far, CHEER has received help from the Longwood Foundation, which is supplying a grant to pay for the commercial kitchen. The Delaware Community Foundation has also awarded a grant to pay for the center director's office.
CHEER has applied for a low-interest loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and is also soliciting donations from anyone willing and able. For more information on the capital campaign, go to www.cheerde.com.
At the new facility's announcement ceremony in April, CHEER Development Director David Tidwell said the center is much needed in the Milton area and will be a great asset to the community.
“This has been long overdue,” he said. “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.”