KINGWOOD, W.Va. – A lack of participation at senior centers due to self-isolation from the pandemic has led to staff shortages.

Preston County Senior Citizens Inc. is currently offering services from seven senior centers.

Five of the centers are operating at pre-pandemic hours. The Tunnelton and Terra Alta senior centers are on a limited schedule because there just aren’t people there to run them.

“I think it’s important for people to get involved in their senior centers,” said Janie Lou White, executive director, Preston County Senior Citizens Inc. “There is evidence that the participation in senior centers lead to longer healthier lives, and there’s not an older person I can think of that doesn’t want to live a healthier life, and we have that to offer.”

The Bureau of Public Health awarded the Preston County Senior Citizens Inc. the Rural Health Equity grant, which will help them address the effects of COVID on senior citizens.

After the organization reopened in June 2021, they were only able to offer limited services, including meal services, in-home care, transportation and home delivery.

Now, as the centers are once again operating at full capacity, they are also offering services that address the social determinates of aging, both in-center and home-delivered nutrition services, in-home care and hygiene services, meal prep, housekeeping and transportation.

The seven centers ran by the Preston County Senior Citizen Inc. are located in Kingwood, Bruceton mills, Masontown, Newburg, Rollsburg, Tunnelton and Terra Alta.