By Mary Catherine Brooks
Wyoming County Bureau Chief
This summer, the Wyo-ming County Council On Aging will move from the Itmann location to the former Big Lots building in Mullens.
“We’re excited,” said Jennifer Gibson, director. “Everything will be on one level. It will be easier for the seniors.”
The current facility, located in the former school building in Itmann, has been flooded multiple times and has sustained structural damage, Gibson explained.
“The corner is starting to crumble,” she said.
Engineers are checking the structure about every six months, so it is still safe for the time being, Gibson noted.
The Council On Aging purchased the supermarket portion of the Mullens building in addition to the adjoining 3 acres with state grant funding and some monies from the council, she said.
An architect has been hired to plan the new facility.
“This building has 15,000 square feet,” Gibson said of the new location. “With the (additional property) we can expand if we need to.
“With The Way next door, it will be a multi-generational site,” she emphasized.
The Way is a community youth center.
On Jan. 19, the President’s Day of National Service, several volunteers were helping to ready the building for the new occupants.
Among the New Coalition of Volunteers were the Rural Appalachian Improvement League and the Mullens Opportunity Center’s Coalfields Communities Youth Corps, a group of at risk youngsters, under the direction of Charlene Cook and Dewey Houck, among other groups.
“We are building an outstanding program for at risk youth, ages 14 to 21, at the MOC,” Houck said. “We are very proud of these kids and want to expose them to as much of the social environment as possible.
“Statistics tell us they will some day make up the bulk of population in our county.”
The volunteers were moving church pews that had been stored there while the historic Wyco Church is being restored.
“The first thing we’ll have to do is put on a new roof,” Gibson said as the volunteers moved the items from the frigid building.
She lauded the assistance of state Sens. Mike Green and Daniel Hall, Delegate Linda Goode Phillips, and former Sen. Richard Browning in obtaining funding for the project.
“We’ll still be doing some fundraising,” Gibson said.
Additionally, volunteers will be working at the new site Saturday mornings to get ready for the move, she noted. All volunteers and organizations are welcome to participate.
The Wyoming County Council On Aging serves about 800 seniors a day, according to Gibson, through the center, Meals On Wheels, transportation and in-home care programs.
The council’s meals program provides lunch in the center or home delivery, she said.
Transportation is also provided, through a center program, for seniors and the disabled to local doctor’s appointments, pharmacies and shopping. Additionally, the van will provide transportation to the center, she said.
Although the services are free, donations are accepted for the meals and transportation programs, she noted.
The Council On Aging also provides in-home personal care services for those in need. Eligibility guidelines can be explained by staff members.
The Itmann center is open from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday through Friday; call 304-294-8800 for more information concerning available services.
The New Coalition Of Volunteers, as it exists today, Houck noted, is made up of volunteers from the Appalachian Coal Country Team, Rural Appalachian Improvement League, Wyoming County Diabetes Coalition, Appalachia Energy and Environment Partnership, Friends of the Appalachian Coal Country Team, Stotesbury Historical and Preservation Committee, Wyco Historical and Preservation Committee, Coalfields Communities Youth Corps, and others.
“The coalition is organized to provide a network of volunteers to maximize efforts performing community and economic development in the coalfields,” Houck explained.
“The coalition welcomes all that are interested in volunteering on projects that improve life-quality for families living in the Appalachian coalfields that have a tangible measurable outcome,” he said.
— E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org