Nanticoke Senior Center celebrates 45 years

By Rachel Farris

The Nanticoke Senior Center opened its doors as an incorporation on August 22, 1972. They first were housed in a log cabin before moving to a small location on Arch St. The center stayed there until 1997. There was a brief period where they shared a space with the Boys and Girls Club, while the homebound meal program ran out of the Blades Fire Company. Finally, they moved into the old country club on Locust St. in 2011, and they've been there ever since. This [facility] at one point it was high grass and deterioration, said Representative Danny Short. It's transformed; it's a good use of property that otherwise would have been abandoned and probably torn down. Slatcher, after helping the center get its start, commented on the constant moving between spaces. I just said to them one day, I said, 'One of these days, you're gonna have a place that's going to be your own, where you can leave your stuff and do whatever you want and not have to worry about it.' When the building became available, he told the other city officials that they should buy it and sell it to the Senior Center- and that's what they did. Of my accomplishments as mayor, even in the Senate, this probably was number one, Slatcher added. I felt that because it helped so many people.
This is really a night to show our legislators who we are, but also to recognize some people in our community who have made a big impact on Nanticoke Senior Center, said Barb Elliott, Director of the Nanticoke Senior Center. We're going to honor Bill Slatcher tonight. He's been a vital part of the center for 45 years. The center would also receive proclamations that night from the State Senate and House, as well as the City and County; Sen. Bryant Richardson, Rep. Danny Short, County Council President Mike Vincent, and Seaford Mayor Dave Genshaw presented these.
The location was named by most as a reason the center has been so successful. For them to occupy this property and really be in the center of our town in a building that meant so much to everybody here, and repurpose it for their use, I think is what really identifies them now, said Mayor Genshaw. I'm sure they had an identity before they were here, but for my memory, this is the senior center. Sen. Richardson said, It is probably one of the most beautiful facilities around as far as senior centers go. County Council President Vincent added that success also comes from the leadership, people having the foresight to look ahead and see what Seaford would need, and a lot of dedicated volunteers.
That dedication from its community was unanimously agreed on as a key factor as well. Seaford is unique anyhow, explained Slatcher. People want to do things together. It was always kind of easy in a way to get things started or get them accomplished because a lot of people would jump in in their community and help you. And that's what happened here.

There's a lot of people that have done a lot for this senior center, and still are doing it. So I think it would be something that we'll all always be proud of that we got.
I think it's the localness of it that keeps it a success, Genshaw agreed. These are your friends; this isn't an outside organization. This is your people running this organization for the people of this town and for the neighboring communities, so I think that's the key to their success. Elliott added that the community involvement has been a huge component, as well as the City of Seaford being so supportive. I think the volunteers, the board, the city, and a lot of folks that stepped up deserve a lot of credit, Short said of the center's longtime success.
The community wanted a permanent place for seniors to gather and socialize, and that is what the Center strives to be. The programs and outreach offered by the Nanticoke Senior Center, of course, have evolved as the organization grew. Our membership has experienced significant growth since moving into this beautiful facility, raising from 750 members to well over 1,400 in just six short years, explained Lora Schuler, Nanticoke Senior Center Board of Director President. Our vision includes an emphasis in health, wellness, and independence. We are serving three distinct generations, all with different needs and abilities. Our fitness center and classes are quickly gaining in popularity. We are now serving an average of 200 meals a week in our cafe. Our trips are at capacity within hours of opening for reservations. Our special events and birthday lunches are sold out. The Nanticoke Senior Center is thriving. Through our outreach program, we're delivering 47,000 meals annually to homebound seniors in the Seaford area. However, it's more than just a meal, it's a relationship.
Despite these accomplishments, Elliott said that there is always opportunity to do more. It's hard to believe, but we have outgrown this facility, she said. It's 11,000 square feet and a lot of times we don't have room for all the different things that we have going on. So I do see growth in the future, but there would be, again, another campaign to raise the money to make it happen. Of outgrowing the facility, Genshaw said, That's a great problem to have, and I think all services that are tending to senior needs are expanding so great in this area because it's just becoming a great place to retire.
In the meantime, the Nanticoke Senior Center will continue to make its members feel welcome and cared for. A big membership anniversary is scheduled for August, where they will celebrate with their seniors and share what we've done in those 45 years, Elliott said.

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