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Annual MEOC 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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Snodgrass receives outstanding older worker award

For more than four decades, Irma Snodgrass has been the face of Mountain Empire Older Citizens in Scott County. As an MEOC employee since 1979, the Weber City resident has traveled countless miles in the community connecting older residents to services that help them remain safe and secure in their homes. With 41 years of service to MEOC, Snodgrass has the honor of having the most years of employment among all staff members. Her devotion to the agency and its clients are among many assets that helped earn Snodgrass the 2020 Mae French Outstanding Older Worker Award.

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Increase in fuel fund requests expected

At 92, Christina Harris of Gate City can’t do quite as much as she once did. But she’s still determined to be as active as possible. While she can no longer complete heavy-duty housework or tend her yard, chores she once enjoyed, Harris remains motivated and driven. “I don’t give up. I try to put my mind to it and do it, even if I don’t want to,” said Harris, as she rested in a chair in the physical therapy space at Mountain Empire Older Citizens’ Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly in Big Stone Gap.

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Foster grandparents take part in Day of Service

With limited access to public schools during the pandemic, MEOC’s AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers observed the September 11 Day of Service differently than in past years but still found a way to give back to the community. AmeriCorps Seniors (formerly the Foster Grandparent Program) participants filled 50 gift bags with items to donate to the agency’s Public Guardianship Program. The Public Guardianship Program serves indigent adults who have been determined by the court system to need a guardian or conservator.

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