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Economic Development Kent County Nonprofits & Philanthropy

KSI opens renovated wing in Milford office

Katie Tabeling

KSI recently cut the ribbon on a new wing at its
MILFORD — Kent-Sussex Industries recently celebrated long-awaited renovations at the Life Enrichment Center in Milford, marking a first step in a hopeful long-term renovation | PHOTO COURTESY OF KSI

MILFORD — Kent-Sussex Industries recently celebrated long-awaited renovations at the Life Enrichment Center, marking a milestone in the total transformation at its Skill Development Center in Milford.

The nonprofit focused on serving people with disabilities in central and southern Delaware cut the ribbon on improvements at the center on Dec. 18. The center serves as a hub where clients look to increase independence and boost social abilities. Activities in the life enrichment program include lessons targeted in self care, communication and community participation and other activities encountered in day-to-day life.

“We’re proud to say that the renovated wing we’re in  signals the first steps towards creating an environment that is more conducive to providing effective services for individuals with disabilities in the comfort, safety, dignity and respect that they deserve,” KSI CEO Heath Chasanov said in a statement.

The $600,000 renovation of the life enrichment center included lower ceilings with better sound control, upgraded computers and more efficient HVAC utilities, an emergency ramp and partitions. With clients sensitive to sound, the sound dampening tiles would help them focus during lessons, while partitions would aid KSI in hosting multiple activities without distracting clients.

KSI is a nonprofit that focuses on providing vocational training and employment opportunities for people with disabilities that live in Kent and Sussex counties. The organization also provides other supporting programs in transportation and community integration that aid participants in self-advocacy skills and independence.

Pre-vocational programs include exposing participants to potential jobs in retail, landscaping, packaging and more to help make informed career choices. Other skill building lessons focus on equipping participants with the ability to understand workplace norms and dress codes, how to work safely and how to manage transportation.

Originally founded in 1962 as Golden Opportunity Center as a small facility in Camden, KSI grew within the next decade to four satellite facilities across Kent and Sussex counties. By 1985, those four offices consolidated under a new name to a former shirt factory at 301 N. Rehoboth Blvd. in Milford. 

As of July 2023, roughly 300 clients are served through KSI  programs. With the growth in the Milford community and the client base over four decades, the organization has plans for a three-phase renovation of the building, with the renovation completed at the life enrichment center, done with funds from a state Community Reinvestment Grant, marking the end of the first phase.

The entire renovation project cost is projected to be at $3.3 million, but will take time as KSI is currently undertaking a strategic planning initiative.

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