Ocean View looks to spread CHEER

Age is relative — most people spend their entire lives as a senior to some and a junior to others. Either way, while Sussex County Senior Services (SCSS) started out serving the 60-plus population, the non-profit organization has long since shaved a decade, and now caters to county residents ages 50 and up.

Coastal Point • SAM HARVEY: Matt Verderame, Pete Pearson, and Bobbie Smith take a seat in the new Coastal Leisure Center in Ocean View, located on Cedar Neck Road.Coastal Point • SAM HARVEY:
Matt Verderame, Pete Pearson, and Bobbie Smith take a seat in the new Coastal Leisure Center in Ocean View, located on Cedar Neck Road.

In other words, the brand new Coastal Leisure Center in Ocean View (Cedar Neck Road) is now open to more people than ever.

The important thing is, it’s open, and it’s about time. “I’ve been waiting for this for almost 12 years,” said the center’s director, Sherrie Stevens.

As SCSS Deputy Director John Culp noted, the Ocean View-area 50-plus crowd had been congregating at an old fast food restaurant for some time (rent-free, courtesy of local Rep. Gerald Hocker, but in rather cramped quarters).

“We’re certainly grateful, but the space was woefully insufficient,” Culp said. “Thanks to a lot of help from local leaders and a very active capital campaign down there, we were extremely grateful that we were able to complete the new center.”

The Coastal Leisure Center includes a small but well-equipped fitness center (memberships available), a shiny new kitchen and an over-sized meeting room (2,360 square feet) with retractable dividing wall.
Coastal Point • SAM HARVEY: Barbara Murphy gets in a workout at the new Coastal Leisure Center.Coastal Point • SAM HARVEY:
Barbara Murphy gets in a workout at the new Coastal Leisure Center.

One side is typically set up for club activities, the other side as a dining room. (The center is available for rental after hours and on weekends, and CHEER offers catering services as well, Stevens pointed out.)

Culp noted a reasonably-priced lunch for the regulars, and a range of activities. “Virtually every single day, they have two or three things going on,” he said.

In the coming month, Stevens noted a picnic at Trap Pond on Sept. 2 ($6 to carpool), an ice cream social on Sept. 8, a trip to Rehoboth for the Governor’s Walk on Sept. 16 and a Country & Western dinner dance on Sept. 22.

For a modest fee, visitors can take part in fitness and conversational Spanish classes and yoga as well. CHEER picks people up if they want to come by the center, and provides daily transport for short shopping trips, to the post office and bank.
And groups can carpool to the bowling lanes, or sit in for bridge, pinochle, mahjong, etc. “Socialization is definitely a big part of our center,” Stevens noted.

Of course, she smiled as she admitted there were occasionally schisms, with different people splintering off into their own little cliques — and, occasionally, disputes over cards or allegations of flirtatiousness.
Coastal Point • SAM HARVEY: Gus Keebler (left, a bus driver for CHEER) talks with Stanley Bartkowiak as he works out on a treadmill.Coastal Point • SAM HARVEY:
Gus Keebler (left, a bus driver for CHEER) talks with Stanley Bartkowiak as he works out on a treadmill.

But those incidents were the exception. “It’s a great place to make friends, to make contacts, maybe set up carpools,” she continued. “And that’s really the best thing people can do — they need to depend on each other.” Stevens gave the gang at the Coastal Leisure Center a lot of credit for encouraging other people in the community to get involved.

The grand opening is slated for Thursday, Aug. 25, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. The Mason Dixon VFW honor guard will be on hand for the ribbon-cutting (9:30 a.m.), and musical entertainment 3 Hits and a Miss takes the stage at 10 a.m.

There will be line dancing in the afternoon, with deejay Sky Brady spinning the platters, until the Baytones step in at 5 p.m.

Coastal Leisure Center staff will be on hand to provide refreshments, and there will be a silent auction for some choice prizes, including (1) rounds of golf (foursomes) at Eagle’s Landing, the Rookery, the O.C. Beach Club, River Run and the Bay Club, (2) dinner for two at Chez la Mer and (3) lunch for four at the Cultured Pearl.

For more information, call 539-2671.