By Aila Boyd

The Botetourt Resource Center was recently awarded a grant for $34,142.

The grant was awarded by the Community Foundation Serving Western Virginia through the Marion S. and Willie Z. Camp Fund for Eldercare. Last year, it awarded the center a $20,000 grant.

The funds will help the center assist county residents with utility bills, prescriptions, home repairs, and other basic needs.

Melissa Lucas, executive director of the center, said that she was “shocked” when she received a letter from the Community Foundation Serving Western Virginia notifying her that the center would be awarded $14,142 more than it was last year.

“They’ve been very good to the resource center,” Lucas said of the foundation.

The money, she said, is already going to good use.

“It’s a lot of money, but there’s a lot of need in the county,” she said.

The center uses a significant amount of its funding assisting individuals pay their utility bills during the winter months.

Lucas explained that the grant application, which was submitted in November, required a program name. This year’s program is titled “Filling the Gaps in the Lives of Older Adults.”

Lucas took over as executive director of the center in June of 2018 following the retirement of long-time executive director Robyn Dobyns. Dobyns was with the center for 18 years.

Prior to joining the center, Lucas worked for the Local Office on Aging. Through her work in that office, she became acquainted with Dobyns, who hand selected her to lead the center following her retirement.

“I didn’t take it lightly,” Lucas said of Dobyns’ offer. “It was a big undertaking. I knew I would be filling big shoes.”

Although Lucas is still “trying to navigate the position,” she’s considering shaking things up by adding additional programing to the center’s offerings.

Currently, the center is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday. On Thursdays, the center hosts local seniors for recreation activities.

Lucas is in the process of assessing whether or not it would be feasible to add a game day on Tuesdays. She explained the decision will likely come down to whether or not there are enough volunteers to make the game day a reality.

“It would be nice to bring them out more,” she said.

By adding a game day on Tuesdays, Lucas said, local seniors would have an additional thing to look forward to on a weekly basis.

“Some seniors live alone and are lonely,” Lucas said. “Getting out is good for their physical condition and mind.”

On average, 15 to 20 people attend the weekly recreation events on Thursdays.

The center hosts weekly senior parties, which have even higher turnout rates. The next party is scheduled for March and will be based on the theme “spring fling.”

Lucas also mentioned that the center might be partnering with Heartland Rehab to offer various senior programming that will be centered around health.

The Botetourt Resource Center, located in Buchanan, opened in 2000. Those seeking to inquire about services offered by the center should call 254-1468.