Branching out: Dover Interfaith Mission to open shelter facility outside of Felton

FELTON — Jeanine Kleimo, chairwoman of the Dover Interfaith Mission for Housing, said the nonprofit’s upcoming expansion to a former motel-turned Islamic worship center outside of Felton sounds like the start of a joke.

“As I like to say, the story is a Jew, a Muslim and a Christian walked into a motel and came out with a deal,” Ms. Kleimo said. “It’s kind of a funny story, but the Islamic Society (of Central Delaware) has been absolutely wonderful to deal with.”

Dover Interfaith purchased the former worship site from the Islamic Society of Central Delaware for $425,000 in order to convert the property into low-rent housing for 20 individuals transitioning out of the group’s shelters and into permanent homes.

Ms. Kleimo said that financing for the project has been provided by NCALL and the ISOCDE and no grants or subsidies were involved. She expects to hold a grand opening for the new facility within the next month.

“The wheels are definitely starting to move for us,” Ms. Kleimo said. “It’s been a busy time.”

Much of that time has been spent doing a lot of work and renovations to the rooms at the former 1950s-era motel complex.

“The Islamic Society of Central Delaware really wanted us there and helped with the financing and doing the renovations,” Ms. Kleimo said. “We’re doing the cosmetic ones, like painting and moving furniture in.

“Herb (Konowitz, vice chair of Interfaith) has got a guy who’s made bedframes and we’ve got a guy who gave us discounts on the mattresses, and we have people donating furniture. It’s just a real community effort.”

Dover Interfaith will manage the property when it opens and will have a resident manager on-site.

The residents will be selected from the group’s shelter for men in downtown Dover and will be required to have a steady income.

“It’s small, but it’s serviceable,” Mr. Konowitz said, about the soon-to-open transitional housing facility. “All the guys (moving in) are working or they’re disabled.

“In our transition operation you’ve got to work, you’ve got to pay rent – but the rent is reasonable.”

Mr. Konowitz said that Dover Interfaith is now providing shelter and services for 111 total men. He added that they all receive personal financial management training to help them handle their money.

Ms. Kleimo said Dover Interfaith has also recently identified a low-rent home in Dover for some women who are in need.

The Interfaith group has been fortunate in fulfilling its’ mission recently.

“It’s a big thing,” Mr. Konowitz said. “We were fortunate that the Islamic Society of Central Delaware bought this motel (in Felton), I guess probably eight or nine years ago.

“They took part of it and capped off all the utilities and used that for their prayer room. They grew so much that they built a Mosque (on South Little Creek Road).

“I don’t know how we got to them. They didn’t put it on the market or anything. Somebody told us about it.

“One thing’s for sure, they really stepped up to the plate for us.”

Along with 20 very grateful men.


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