The Times West Virginian

November 4, 2013

Senior centers receive funding

More than $1,600 has been given following report of budget cuts

By Mary Wade Burnside
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — After word got out that Marion County Senior Citizens Inc. would be closing two of its three facilities on Wednesdays because of budget cuts, donations came in from two different sources and executive director Debbie Harvey hopes more will come in.

“We really could use this because our funding got cut,” she said.

A total of $1,625 has been donated to the center, Harvey said. The Dominion Foundation gave $1,000 through a grant Harvey applied for.

Also, the Fairmont Homebrewers Club held a fundraiser at the Fairmont Field Club on Oct. 5 and raised $1,250. Half was donated to Marion County Senior Citizens Inc. and half to another service organization, The Connecting Link.

As of last Friday, the North Marion Senior Citizens Center in Mannington and the Fairview Senior Citizens Center will not operate on Wednesdays.

That means that if people want to take advantage of the lunchtime meal provided by the organization, they either will have to drive to the Fairmont facility or take one of the shuttles Marion County Senior Citizens Inc. will be providing.

In an effort to attract more takers, the shuttles will take people to shopping areas after lunch. That was to make the situation more appealing to senior citizens because funding is based on the number of people who use the senior citizens center, Harvey said, so she wants to keep future cuts from taking place.

“We’re trying to keep our service numbers from decreasing because that will cut funding,” Harvey said. “If we can keep our service numbers up, then our funding will be increased and then I can open the centers back up. That remains to be seen next year when they are telling us how much money they are giving us.”

An $18,000 budget cut by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has prompted the Wednesday closures. Before the cut, the organization had a total budget of $1.6 million.

So far, although some have expressed disappointment that the centers will be closed on Wednesdays, people mostly have been understanding and some plan to use the shuttle service.

“People have been telling our employees that they ... are planning on coming to Fairmont and planning on using the vans,” Harvey said. “I had some people who said they were excited that they get to do the shopping. A lot of them didn’t realize that we would provide the shopping.”

Marion County Senior Citizens Inc. also provides a home-delivery lunch to people who qualify that also will be affected by the cuts. Now, participants will get two lunches on Tuesday — one fresh and one frozen, with heating instructions, to make up for the lack of Wednesday delivery.

However, the cutbacks will not completely take care of the budget cuts, so Harvey hopes other organizations will keep Marion County Senior Citizens Inc. in mind when planning fundraising efforts.

“Cutting those centers one day a week was not going to cut our total costs down, but this will help soften the blow,” she added. “It’s not going to totally solve this problem.”

Joshua Clarke of the Fairmont Homebrewers Club organized the Oct. 5 event, which was called Homebrewers Against Hunger.

“We’d been looking to do something to get ourselves out there as a club,” he said. “Something we’ve been doing every year is donating canned food as a group. And also something I’ve been involved with has been volunteering at food banks and Union Mission. So we wanted to have something fun for people to come out and sample the things we’re making and show that we’re a club that cares about the community.”

The club had to be careful about which organizations they chose for their donations, however, because some of them work with people who have problems with alcohol and did not want the association with a beer brewing club.

Participants paid $15 to get into the event if they wanted to sample the beers, and they also could buy raffle tickets for items such as T-shirts, pizzas from Pies & Pints in Morgantown and a bottle of whiskey from Heston Farm Winery and Pinchgut Hollow Distillery.

“I guess we were just looking for a fun way for us to contribute and get people to know who we are,” Clarke added. “We’re looking forward to doing it again next year. It was an awesome time. Everyone who came out just loved it.”

Email Mary Wade Burnside at mwburnside@timeswv.com.