Upshur County Senior Center director Traci Thompson speaks at a recent meeting of the Rotary Club of Buckhannon-Upshur. / Photo by Monica Zalaznik

Upshur Senior Center director details its list of expanding services, citing recent growth

BUCKHANNON – The Upshur County Senior Center has grown its list of activities in the center and hopes to reach more people in the county.

Director of the Upshur County Senior Center Traci Thompson attended the Aug. 2 Rotary Club of Buckhannon-Upshur meeting to discuss their expanding list of services.

“I arrived in October last year and they had been closed for [almost] two years because of COVID,” Thompson said. “They had just reopened maybe about three or four months before I came on and we had nobody coming in for meals; we had nobody coming in for activities. COVID hit everybody hard and we’re still dealing with it today.”

She said it was hard to start up activities again because the senior center’s clients were afraid to leave their homes and they didn’t know if the center was starting to schedule activities again.

“One of the things I did was start a newsletter; we have a newsletter that goes out every month, and we send it to every one of our members,” Thompson said. “We have 600 members and when I started sending newsletters and telling them what we were doing, trying to get as much information for the seniors and the general public, we have exploded, it has been the greatest thing ever. I’m so excited.”

One of their primary services is offering a range of activities for everyone to enjoy.  

“We really tried to figure out activities for seniors, but also for the general public, who do have to pay to participate, but it’s usually around $5 a class or something like that,” Thompson said. “We have Zumba, Tai Chi, we have aerobics, we have we have bingo, bunko, bridge clubs — all kinds of things.”

Anyone is welcome to participate in these activities, but members can join any interest for free.

“We also offer in-home care services, which we offer for seniors 60 years or older, where people can go in the homes and help take care of a loved one. They can clean for them, they can go grocery shopping for them and can help them with their doctors’ appointments. It’s a wonderful service that we offer,” Thompson said.

More information about in-home care and other services can be found on the Upshur County Senior Center Facebook page.

“We also offer congregate meals where people come in and they eat at the senior center and it’s usually a $3 donation from seniors,” Thompson said. “We offer free lunch Fridays, which is another way we are partnering with businesses. The business basically pays the $3 donation for the seniors, and they are just loving it.”

The center also tries to feed seniors at their homes with the Meals on Wheels program.

“Right now, our route is basically within the City of Buckhannon, [and] we all know there are outlying areas that really need to be reached like Ellamore, Hodgesville and Rock Cave,” Thompson said. “One of the things I’m striving for is to work with the fire departments, and we’re going to see if we can start something so we can eventually have a route in those areas.”

Thompson has also invited the VA in Clarksburg to start paying visits to the center, to help local veterans who may not have the means or time to go to Clarksburg.

They’re going to help our vets and make sure they’re enrolled in the right areas and if they have any questions,” Thompson said.

For more information, check out the senior center’s website here.

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