Growing up in Mexico, Delia Flores didn’t see community centers. She didn’t know what a city parks and recreation department did until she moved to Texas more than 30 years ago.

“There’s a lot of people who don’t know what a community center is because they never grew up around them,” said Flores of immigrants, which is just one population of residents in Seattle she is hoping to attract to the Miller Community Center.

Flores took over as recreation coordinator for the Miller Community Center in June, replacing interim manager Johnnie Williams, who was promoted to manage the city’s sports programs. 

She spent 10 years working for the Dallas Park & Recreation Department, and just moved to Bremerton last year — not the easiest commute to Capitol Hill.

“I was so excited about the fast ferry,” Flores said, “and then yesterday it broke down.”

Flores moved to the area to be with her husband, whom she married last year. She has a 21-year-old son and 13-year-old stepdaughter.

“They’re very supportive,” she said, “and they volunteer for various events that we have.”

Her son played the Easter bunny during this year’s egg hunt at Miller Park.

“It was so funny, a 21-year-old kid in a bunny suit running around,” she said.

Flores became familiarized with community centers while working at a preschool in Dallas that rented space from the local facility. She began volunteering for special events, and decided that was where she wanted to be.

“It’s a perfect place to bring everybody together, and I just fell in love with the idea the more I volunteered and the more events I did,” Flores said. “I said, ‘I’m changing careers.’”

Flores had started as assistant coordinator for the Miller and the Montlake community centers last November, and said she’s happy to now have one facility where she can focus her energies.

“This is a beautiful facility,” she said, “and it has so many facilities — the water feature, the playground, the fields.”

Flores has been staying busy with the center’s summer day camp, which will continue to serve around 40 children until early September.

She’s also picking up where Williams left off with collaborating with the new Meany Middle School principal Chanda E. Oatis on service and program offerings. Meany is reopening this fall semester after a major renovation.

A back-to-school barbecue will be held on Sept. 13, in conjunction with Scholarship Night, where families can find out how to apply for assistance covering fees for community center programs.

Flores said she appreciates that families can apply for scholarships collectively, rather than submitting multiple applications. Miller Community Center made drop-in programs free in January.

The center also expanded its hours at the beginning of the year, as operating times had been cut during the recession, Flores said.

Now, she’s looking at how to fill the additional hours with more programming to attract new users to the Miller Community Center, especially youth and teens. Demand for senior and toddler programming is growing, Flores said, with a gap between those age groups.

The plan is to attract teens with current programs, such as tutoring, computer classes, no-cost field trips and a monthly cooking class, and then form a teen advisory council to gauge what else they want to see at the community center, Flores said.

The new Miller Community Center coordinator said she’s also excited to work on expanding services with businesses, organizations and nonprofits.

Flores said she’s discussing the potential for more educational opportunities with Country Doctor Community Clinic and its low-income clients, such as “Mommy and Me” classes.

She’s also working with Seattle Counseling Service on reaching more immigrant families within the LGBTQ community. With the national dialogue and administrative actions revolving around immigration, Flores said it hasn’t been easy.

“It’s still a challenge, because there is still this fear,” she said. “…That’s why I think it’s important for us to continue being welcoming.”

Miller Community Center is open noon to 8 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday. The center is at 330 19th Ave. E.