Senior centers - and the Ravenswood center pool - open on limited basis on June 22

Suzette Lowe

Although on a limited basis for a while, the Jackson County Commission on Aging will be opening the county’s three centers on Tuesday, June 22.

Ripley Senior Center

The facilities, located in Ripley, Ravenswood and Sandyville, will be serving meals from 11 a.m.-noon on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of each week.

“Unfortunately, this is the only time we will be opening as we ease back to in-person,” said Chanda Engle, executive director of the commission. “We have to clean and sanitize after the meals, and this takes quite a bit of time and effort.”

While masks will not be required, due to the governor lifting the mask mandate on June 20, social distancing will still be in place. Temperature checks will be conducted before entering the dining area.

“Our goal is to be as safe as possible, while still having a good time socializing,” Engle said. “We know that it’s been extremely difficult for our seniors to be unable to see each other. Many of them have become fast friends over the years.”

Engle said reservations for the meals will need to be made the day prior to the meal being served.

“We need to know how many meals to prepare,” Engle explained. “We are using disposable containers and each person will be served. That takes some planning and knowing how many is very important.”

Drive-through meals are available as well. These can be picked up from 10-10:30 a.m. at Ripley and Sandyville and 10:30-11:30 a.m. at Ravenswood.

Another piece of good news is the re-opening of the pool at the Ravenswood center.

Ravenswood Senior Center

Hours will be limited and the number of attendees to any aerobic classes or free swim will be smaller. The pool manager will be contacting those who normally take part in classes to share information and procedures.

While all the physical buildings have been closed since March 13, 2020, many services provided by the commission have continued through the pandemic.

Engle said the employees could see the closure coming at some point. They distributed several non-perishable meals the last two weeks. Soon after, the “grab ‘n go" meals were available.

“We tried to keep it at 90 meals, but we weren’t about to let anyone go hungry, so at times we were up to 140 a day,” Engle said. “The money to offset that was part of emergency funding from the state. That funding will soon end.”

Home delivery continued as well. The guidelines normally focus on those over 60 years of age who do not drive. During the pandemic, realizing that caution kept many more at home, phone sign-ups were accepted. With sanctions being lifted, staff visits will be made to determine qualification.

“We also continued our in-home care,” said Engle. “Some were not comfortable having anyone in their home during the pandemic. In those cases, we did wellness checks weekly.”

Medical transports will continue to be available on Monday and Friday to Parkersburg, Charleston, Point Pleasant and Spencer.

Grocery shopping was a challenging issue for many seniors during the health crisis. Engle said employees picked up groceries and prescriptions for those that could not drive. The curbside pick-up at both Kroger and Walmart were utilized as well.

“We had employees that would actually go in the stories and shop for our seniors,” said Engle.

While activities will not be taking place at any of the centers for a while, Engle said that will change as the situations are evaluated.

Sandyville Senior Center

“We truly know how much everyone enjoys bingo, card games and other fun things,” she said. “We promise that we will be bringing those back as soon as we feel it’s safe to do so.”

Engle said that after the Fourth of July holiday, she hopes to offer lunch five days a week. Rental of the buildings will be delayed until 2022.

“We just ask everyone to be as patient as they can be,” she said. “I’ve literally had nightmares thinking about our folks being alone during this long hard year and a half. To be able to see them, and for them to visit each other, will be such a blessing.”

For information regarding services, employment or procedures, call the Jackson County Commission on Aging at 304-372-2406.