BUCKHANNON — The Upshur County Senior Center welcomed a new executive director, who is planning a fresh direction for the center.
Tracie Thompson, a Wheeling native and graduate of Fairmont State University, began her career with the center in October of 2021. She has nearly 25 years of experience working with non-profit management. Thompson currently resides in Elkins but has grown to love Buckhannon. She stated, “The area is very community-minded.”
“I want to grow professionally in this role while also growing the center into, not only a center for seniors, but for the whole community. We have new staff and new beginnings,” said Thompson.
Some of the new activities planned for the center include yoga, Zumba and a Senior Spa Day. “COVID-19 has really affected things and people are afraid to come out.,” explained Thompson. “We want people to know that we are open and we follow all guidelines, including but not limited to, frequent sanitizing practices and wearing face masks.”
In addition to the new, planned activities, the center will continue activities available prior to COVID-19. These include painting classes, aerobics and bingo-cize. Bingo-cize combines a game of bingo with physical wellness, with different exercises in between the called numbers. There are even dance classes available.
Thompson also reports that the center plans to partner with the Upshur County Health Department and Community Care to provide vaccine clinics for both flu and COVID-19. West Virginia Wesleyan College currently has a partnership with the center for its nursing scholarship program. Student nurses assist the center’s nurses in referrals for the in-home care services among other duties.
Meals on Wheels is also a service provided by the Upshur County Senior Center. Thompson hopes to expand this as well. Prior to COVID, the center partnered with the local fire departments to drop off food for seniors could pick it up. Of course, some seniors may not be able to pick up a meal, so Thompson is hoping that local dealerships could donate food trucks, expanding the Meals on Wheels routes.
Grandparents can benefit from the center’s Healthy Grand Families program. This program helps grandparents raising their grandkids in the area with training that includes, but is not limited to, education on health and wellness, as well as classes on parenting and computer basics.
Country Roads Transit will provide transportation if seniors do not have a way to come to the center. Transit will also provide trips to local stores and medical offices. Thompson previously managed Country Roads Transit and reported there is also a Direct Response Service, where seniors can make appointments for transportation, even just going to a friend’s house. It is $1.50 for one way or $3.00 round trip. Seniors are provided with a $15 credit monthly.
“I want to see the center thriving not only for seniors, but the whole community,” Thompson said. “I want people to know we are open and ready to do everything we can to help the community.”