BRC receives grants; COVID-19 impacts senior activities

In early 2020, the Botetourt Resource Center (BRC) was awarded a $30,000 grant through the Community Foundation Serving Western Virginia (CFSWVA) from the Mary Louise Home Fund. This year’s program, which was entitled “Supporting the Basic Needs and Enriching the Lives of Older Adults,” focuses on programs for the elderly living in Botetourt County and includes assistance with fuel and utilities, co-prescription and dental costs, small home repairs, basic needs and recreation/socialization opportunities.

Due to Governor Northam’s Statewide Stay at Home Order, senior activities such as bingo and monthly parties have been temporarily suspended. The center continues to monitor and follow Virginia’s executive order guidelines as the state begins to reopen in phases. However, due to the fact that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recognizes people 65 years and older being at a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, the BRC will carefully and cautiously re-open its doors for senior activities. Eventually, it may be that activities such as bingo will be organized in smaller groups and held on more than one day per week. For now, the BRC will concentrate on using its grant funding to assist seniors in areas other than recreation. The CFSWVA is allowing the funding that would normally be budgeted for social and recreational activities for seniors to be diverted into the other programs (fuel/utilities, small home repairs, etc.).

In addition to its programs for seniors, the BRC continues to operate the Interfaith Crisis Fuel Fund, which started back in 2010 and has, to date, helped 371 families in the county. The BRC partners with area churches to facilitate and assist individuals and families with electricity cut-off notices. This fund can be utilized once a year. In mid-March, the State Corporation Commission (SCC) suspended disconnections of utilities for 60 days during the coronavirus emergency. The SCC decided to extend the ban until June 14 due to the significant economic effects of the pandemic on business and residential customers. In May the BRC’s Crisis Fund was presented with a $1,000 grant on behalf of the Tom and Kathy Kerkering Charitable Fund, a Donor Advised Fund of Renaissance Charitable Foundation.

The BRC currently offers a small food pantry for Botetourt County residents/families who are in need of emergency food items. There is up-to-date information regarding operating hours and locations as well as contact numbers for Botetourt Food Pantries listed on the website – www.botetourtresourcecenter.com.

Although the BRC continues to be closed for senior activities and walk-in appointments, the center remains open for calls (254-1468) Monday-Thursdays from 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., e-mail requests (mlucasbrc@yahoo.com) and emergency food (please call to make an appointment). Callers may leave a message on the answering machine, and those calls will be returned within 24-48 hours.

The BRC is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization whose mission for the past 20 years has been to provide the residents of Botetourt County with information, advocacy and referral to needed human resources and programs to assist them in healthy and independent living. All of the BRC’s services and programs are available at no cost to all residents of Botetourt County.

If interested in making a donation to the center to help Botetourt residents during this crisis, please mail gifts to the Botetourt Resource Center, Inc., P.O. Box 153, Buchanan, 24066.

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