1975 - A group of 12 individuals lead by Mercedes Rafter broke off from the Modern Maturity Center and started a Senior Center designed to be an organization where people 55 years of age and older could gather for social and recreational purposes as well as help other senior citizens in need of assistance. “Seniors Helping Seniors” became the motto of the new organization. The members met at the First Baptist Church, 37 Bradford Street, Dover.
1977 - Harvest Years Senior Center Certificate of Incorporation was filed in the Office of the Secretary of State, State of Delaware at 9:00AM on April 18, 1977. The incorporators were:
The name “Harvest Years” was suggested by Edith Ruth and it was unanimously accepted.
Mercedes Rafter was the first Director and President of Harvest Years Senior Center Board of Directors.
Other members were:
Esther Berger, Secretary
Marie Lloyd, Treasurer
1978 - Harvest Years Senior Center reported a membership of 56 and growing. The Shopping Program was initiated with a grant of $3,000. Fundraising was vigorously pursued and sufficient funds were raised to purchase land on Walker Road, near the present location of Dover High School.
1985 - A property swap was executed which allowed Harvest Years to swap the Walker Road property for its location at 21 Saulsbury Road.
1987 - Community Development Block Grant funds were secured to add the multipurpose room onto the new house; renovate and enlarge the kitchen so that daily meals could be served and convert the garage into a ceramics workshop for members. The “Shopping Program” continued, serving over 100 essentially homebound Kent County Seniors. The Brown Bag Commodity Foods Program was initiated. Thelma Driggus played a significant role in the Brown Bag program.
1990 to 1999 - Harvest Years Senior Center stayed true to its motto of “Seniors Helping Seniors”. The Shopping Program served over 130 seniors who required assistance with grocery shopping or have their groceries delivered to them. Three paid, full time Shoppers provided the service. The Program operated on a donation basis only. Operating costs for the program were covered by the other revenue sources of the Senior Center. Harvest Years membership had grown steadily. Three hundred individuals were members of revenue sources of the Senior Center. Harvest Years membership had grown steadily. Three hundred individuals were members of the Center and enjoyed a full calendar of activities, classes and trips as well as a hot, nutritious daily meal served family style at the Center.
2001 to Present - In 2001, Harvest Years began in earnest to look for an alternative site on which to build a new Center. The Board of Directors chose Camden, DE since it was not served by a Senior Center locally. 2002 and 2003 was used to locate a site and begin the design phase. Land was purchased in March, 2003. Design spanned 2004. On May 2, 2005 an official ground breaking ceremony was conducted and construction commenced and was completed in October, 2005. Ribbon cutting and Open House was held on November 21, 2005. Presently, Harvest Years Senior Center enjoys a new 5,422 sq. ft. building.