Senior center gets new digs, expanded programs

Over the past 40 years, the Indian River Senior Center has given an outlet to elder members of the community, providing clubs and activities, as well as a social bond. The interest in such programs has always been there, ever since the center’s start in the basement of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in 1969. Later, in 1980, they made a move to the Millsboro Civic Center, though, even then, they were limited in space and availability. Now, the Indian River Senior Center has a new location and high hopes that they can continue with the same service and enjoyment they have for four decades.

Coastal Point • Ryan Saxton: The Indian River Senior Center recently moved into its new location on Irons Avenue in Millsboro.Coastal Point • Ryan Saxton
The Indian River Senior Center recently moved into its new location on Irons Avenue in Millsboro.

“It’s wonderful to finally have all the space we’ve wanted all to ourselves,” said the center’s director, Diane DiTolvo.

The new facility, situated along Irons Avenue in Millsboro, will provide suitable space for additional programs and events, as well as continuing to house the senior center’s favorites.

“We’re really excited for this move,” DiTolvo added. “We expanded what we were working with by 35 percent, and now we don’t have to compete with other groups for the space. It’s really nice to have that kind of freedom.”

Membership has been on a steady rise since the start of the year.

“We’ve increased by 90 members since January,” said DiTolvo. “We’ve only moved right down the road from our last location, but what we can offer now is leaps and bounds from what we could do in the past.”

From the Indian River Senior Center’s bowling and pool clubs to one of the area’s only senior centers with a golf league, there are plenty of options for every member.

“Our golf league is a really big draw for us,” DiTolvo added.

The season, which runs from April through October, is gearing up once again for another season. In its early years, the league hosted less than 30 golfers, but it has since picked up nearly 300 players.

Their library and study center even has its own space, a welcomed addition from the previous nook they were limited to before the move.

“We’re offering more programs now,” DiTolvo said. “We were tied down before, because other entities were there. We always wanted to do more stuff, and now we can.”

Ceramics, cards and shuffleboard are among the activities members can enjoy, with special programs, including musical entertainment and dancing on Wednesday, and the organization’s bell choir and vocal chorus continue to stay active throughout the community.

The center offers a wide range of fundraisers, from bingo, open to the public, to quilt and blanket sales. Educational seminars are also interspersed throughout the schedule. The spacious senior center is also available for rent for other events, accommodating groups from 20 to 200, as a way to help fund the new building.

“We’ve had a lot of support from throughout the community,” said DiTolvo. “Representatives of Sussex County and the Town of Millsboro have really helped us and been very patient. The Chamber and other local businesses have worked with us, as well. Our members are thrilled with the new building, and more and more people are asking about it.”

This Memorial Day weekend, the Indian River Senior Center will return with its Strawberry Festival, a fundraising event dating back to 1983.

“When it started,” said DiTolvo, “our members grew all the berries. It’s expanded now, but they’re locally bought, within a 20- to 25-mile radius.”

The center celebrated its grand opening earlier this week, and the facility was completed with a flag donated by the local VFW.

The Indian River Senior Center is situated at 214 Irons Avenue in Millsboro, just a few blocks west of Wawa. For more information, including membership, events or rental information, stop in or call (302) 934-8839.