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86-year-old is steadfast Emergency Fuel Fund supporter

BIG STONE GAP – Eighty-six-year-old Laura Jessee’s donations arrive faithfully at Mountain Empire Older Citizens each month, always accompanied by a handwritten letter with her signature. The mailed contributions are to the Emergency Fuel Fund for the Elderly. That program, funded entirely by donations, helps older adults in MEOC’s three-county service area in emergency heating situations. In her letters, Ms. Jessee never fails to mention her continued prayers for those in need.

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Cancer survivors share their stories

The 34th annual National Cancer Survivors Day® is Sunday, June 6, 2021. “It’s a day for everyone to join in solidarity with cancer survivors around the world, to raise awareness of the ongoing challenges cancer survivors face because of their disease, and – most importantly – to celebrate life,” according to the National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation. In honor of this day, two MEOC employees are graciously sharing, in their own words, their poignant stories of cancer survivorship.

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Four congregate sites to open in June

Some MEOC Senior Community Sites will open with restrictions on June 7 after being closed for more than a year because of the pandemic. One site each in Lee, Scott and Wise counties and the City of Norton will open once a week during June. Locations will include: Wise County – Trinity United Methodist Church, 203 E 1st St S, Big Stone Gap. Lee County – Pennington Gap First United Methodist Church, 41880 E Morgan Ave, Pennington Gap. Scott County – Hiltons Memorial United Methodist Church, 2869 Hilton Rd, Gate City. City of Norton – Norton Community Center, 201 Park Avenue […]

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Walkathon moving to August

Mountain Empire Older Citizens’ 45th Annual Walkathon, which raises money for its Emergency Fuel Fund for the Elderly, is set for August 29, a change from the event’s traditional spring date. The Walkathon is typically held the first Sunday in May. However, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic paired with a later-than-usual 2020 Walkathon, which was held virtually, prompted organizers to push the 2021 fundraiser to August. MEOC Emergency Services Director Marsha Craiger said organizers hope for an in-person event this year if pandemic restrictions are lifted by that time.

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Rapha Foundation awards $50,000 for cancer education

MEOC’s Mountain Laurel Cancer Support and Resource Center will use a $50,000 grant from The Rapha Foundation to provide cancer education in Wise County and the City of Norton. Half the funding will be awarded this year; the remainder will come in 2022. The Rapha Foundation Executive Director Mark Vanover (pictured above, center with MLCC Coordinator Dianne Morris and MEOC Executive Director Michael Wampler) delivered the first $25,000 check to MEOC’s office on February 16. The foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving population health and access to education in Southwest Virginia.

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Foster grandparents embrace remote learning

MEOC AmeriCorps Seniors Director Brandi Barnette with new tablets

Faced with continuing COVID-19 restrictions, MEOC AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers are using technology to stay connected to the program and each other, attend virtual workshops and even participate in activities to improve their well-being. The MEOC program (formerly the Foster Grandparent Program) purchased 18 new tablets using the bulk of a one-time $15,000 augmentation grant from AmeriCorps. The funding was made available to help AmeriCorps Seniors programs address challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Foundation awards grant to emergency fuel program

The Rapha Foundation has awarded a $10,000 grant to MEOC’s Emergency Fuel Fund for the Elderly. Foundation Executive Director Mark Vanover (center) delivered a check to MEOC’s office on February 16. The grant is earmarked to benefit Wise County and City of Norton residents. The foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving population health and access to education in Southwest Virginia. Learn more about the emergency fuel fund here. Vanover is pictured with MEOC Executive Director Michael Wampler and Emergency Services Director Marsha Craiger.

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AmeriCorps Seniors find ways to help communities despite restrictions

Unable to serve in area classrooms during the pandemic, MEOC AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers have found other ways to assist their communities. The volunteers serve as foster grandparents to at-risk children in area Head Start and elementary schools, working one-on-one to mentor and tutor students. When pandemic restrictions began to emerge and schools shifted to virtual learning, the seniors found themselves isolated at home with lots of time on their hands. MEOC AmeriCorps Seniors Director Brandi Barnette began seeking partnerships and opportunities to keep volunteers engaged long distance.

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Fuel assistance applications being accepted; donations still needed

Mountain Empire Older Citizens is now accepting applications for heating assistance through its Emergency Fuel Fund for the Elderly. The program helps pay winter heating expenses for those who are at least age 60 in Lee, Wise and Scott counties and the City of Norton and whose income is at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level. The fund is used for purchase and delivery of wood, coal, propane, heating oil and to pay electric bills. The program runs from November 1 to March 31. To apply, call MEOC at 276-523-4202.

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