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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Walkathon a favorite event for Sal’s Pals

Each year after completing the Mountain Empire Older Citizens Walkathon, the women who make up Sal’s Pals have a custom. After putting in their steps at the walk, held at Bullitt Park in Big Stone Gap, the ladies make a trip to the community Dairy Queen for ice cream as a celebration of sorts. This year, that tradition won’t happen exactly as in the past since the Walkathon is virtual. However, that isn’t stopping Sal’s Pals from fulfilling their longtime commitment to raising money for the Emergency Fuel Fund for the Elderly.

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MEOC foster grandparent honored by Kids Central

MEOC foster grandparent Nelda ‘Moe’ Dennison (center) is this year’s recipient of Kids Central Inc.’s Volunteer of the Year Award. Presenting the award at Kids Central’s August board meeting is chairman Will Sturgill (left) and executive director Darrell Edwards.

Nelda “Moe” Dennison first heard about Mountain Empire Older Citizens’ Foster Grandparent Program when she was 57 years old. She was a regular volunteer on field trips and other activities with her granddaughter’s class at Appalachia Elementary School. “A lady there knew about the program and encouraged me to check on it,” recalled Dennison. She was drawn to the idea of volunteering in a classroom where she would help care for and mentor young children.

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Fuel fund helps local neighbors, friends

Seventy-six-year-old Paul “Cowboy” Young loves to show people around his workshop in the backyard of his Dryden home in the northeastern part of Lee County. “Now, come on in here … let me show you this,” Young beckons. He wears a broad grin underneath his long gray beard as he begins a tour of the workspace he built himself. He’s dressed in black with jeans, a sleeveless western button-up shirt and cowboy boots. A straw cowboy hat rests atop his head, and his light brown hair reaches his shoulders.

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Build healthy meals using MyPlate guidelines

BY KAITLYN WEBB, MS, RDN  For many of us, diet and nutrition can be confusing. Add in a chronic condition like high blood pressure or diabetes, common conditions for many older adults, and you may be completely lost on what to eat and drink. You may be an older adult who has gotten several different recommendations from health care professionals, television or internet celebrities and family members on which diet is the best, which will improve your labs, which will make you feel better, etc. It can be confusing.

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Retired teacher remains committed to annual cause

For more than three and one-half decades, Freda Ayers has made participation in the Mountain Empire Older Citizens Walkathon an annual priority. Ayers, 70, has been a Walkathon participant since 1983, raising money for the Emergency Fuel Fund for the Elderly. That program annually helps more than 1,000 older residents in the region with winter heating costs. A resident of Ewing in Lee County, Ayers stayed committed to the cause this year even though the COVID-19 pandemic altered the traditional format.

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Retiring foster grandparent: ‘I loved every minute of it’

Ruth Gibson first heard about MEOC’s Foster Grandparent Program more than two decades ago from a woman with whom she attended church. “I think you’d enjoy it,” Gibson recalls the woman telling her. It sounded like she might. So she gave MEOC a call to learn more about the program. Thus began Gibson’s 20 years of volunteer service as a foster grandparent. And she has enjoyed it indeed.

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LTC Medicaid: Don’t assume you aren’t eligible

Even if your income exceeds the limit to qualify for regular Virginia Medicaid, you still might be eligible for Medicaid that covers long-term care in your home. Long-term care Medicaid covers care received in a nursing facility or in a community setting such as your home or Mountain Empire Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). You must be determined to need this type of care by a pre-admission screening team made up of a health department nurse and a department of social services social worker. Hospital social workers can also screen if you are hospitalized in Virginia.

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Faith group repairs homes of elderly in need

Homes of about a dozen MEOC clients received much-needed repairs and renovations in late June as part of a local faith group’s mission project. Wise Baptist Church joined with the Nickelsville-based Southwest Virginia Partnership to build eight wheelchair ramps, replace two roofs, clean gutters, paint exteriors and complete various handyman projects for the clients.

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