John Simmons retired earlier in the fall from his position as director of Pocahontas County Senior Citizens, Inc., after decades of service.
When it came time to find a replacement, the organization looked inward and found its new director in employee Kayla Shaw, who has been with PCSC for five years.
“At first, it was to be a cook,” Shaw said of her first job with the organization. “I enjoy cooking, and I was the head cook here for about a year. I enjoyed going out and sitting with the seniors. Then the site coordinator position came open and, with that position, I was able to actually focus my time on doing crafts and getting to know the seniors better.
“I really enjoyed that,” she added.
Shaw then moved on to be the nutrition coordinator and then the fiscal officer before becoming director. Having the experience of so many of the positions within the organization – plus, working with John Simmons for the past five years – gave Shaw the confidence to take the new position.
Shaw moved back to Pocahontas County in 2013, returning to her home town and found her calling working with the seniors of the Now that she is director, she plans to continue the programs offered to seniors, and hopes to branch out into the community and have the three centers – Green Bank, Marlinton and Hillsboro – be more active in community activities.
Each center is unique and has its own programs that fit the community needs, but at the same time, all have the same nutrition and transportation programs that serve the entire county.
“We offer transportation to medical appointments – non-emergency,” Shaw said. “We offer transportation to the grocery store for essential daily needs. We try to do those local. We’re going to try to do a shopping trip once a month – to Lewisburg and to Elkins.”
With the nutrition program, meals are served at Green Bank and Marlinton, Monday through Friday, noon to 1 p.m., and in Hillsboro, Monday, noon to 1 p.m.
“It’s all donation-based,” Shaw said of the meals. “There is no set fee. We also bring seniors in to the center if they want to do the congregate meals.
“If you are homebound, we provide Meals on Wheels,” she added.
There is a waiting list to get Meals on Wheels, but Shaw encourages seniors who are interested in the program to contact the center and apply to get on the list. She explained that there is an evaluation to ensure the senior has proper equipment to refrigerate and heat the meals.
PCSC also offers in-home programs, such as Lighthouse, FAIR and Respite.
The Lighthouse program provides a caregiver who will go into the home and help the senior with housekeeping and hygiene. The FAIR (Family Alzheimer’s In-Home Respite) and Respite programs are in place to support unpaid caregivers, such as family members or friends – as the word implies – to give those unpaid caregivers a “respite.”
As for activities at the centers, there is fun for all – from Bingo to crafts – or just a chance to sit and catch up with friends or make new friends.
The Green Bank Center has Bible study, choir and Bingo. Marlinton has crafts and Bingo, and Hillsboro has Bible study and Bingo. All centers have puzzles and other activities for seniors to enjoy during their visits.
“If they just need to come in here to wind down and be social, I want them to know that it’s a safe, calm environment for them to come talk to people their age,” Shaw said.
In addition to continuing the programs, Shaw said she wants to get more involved in the communities and make sure that all seniors are doing well and have all the things they need.
“My goals are to get us more involved in the community and get more seniors to come into our dining rooms,” she said. “I’d like for us to get more involved if somebody needs help, like, let’s say we have a senior who needs a refrigerator – I want us to be able to do fundraising for that senior to get them a refrigerator.”
Shaw added that if there are any seniors with questions or concerns, they are welcome to call the center for help. She also welcomes volunteers to contact her if they are interested in helping at the centers or with any of the programs.
The Marlinton office may be contacted at 304-799-6364; Green Bank, at 304-456-5370; and Hillsboro, 304-653-4516.