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Appalachian Events & Gaming Center Serves the Invisible Population

Appalachian Events & Gaming Center offers meals and recreation for seniors in need.

By Livability on December 16, 2022

Senior Services Center in Washington County, VA.
iStock/eyecrave productions

 During the pandemic, the staff at the Abingdon-based Senior Services Center became even more driven to help “the invisible population” in Washington County.

“The majority of the people that we serve either have no friends or family or have family that doesn’t come to see them,” says Randy Callahan, president and executive director of the nonprofit organization, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. 

“They don’t have anybody to help them do just the basic stuff,” he continues. “Most of the time, our volunteers are the only social contact they get. So that makes us a safety check for them as well.” 

When the coronavirus outbreak halted government support and donations, Callahan knew he had to find a way to keep the much-needed Meals on Wheels service and on-site programs running. 

So, the board of directors changed the name from The Community Center of Abingdon to the Appalachian Events & Gaming Center and opened the doors to the public, generating funds to help clients through bingo, e-pull tab machines and other gaming options, and renting the building for special events. 

The sole provider of home-delivered meals in Washington County, the center provides approximately 400 meals each week to homebound seniors, veterans with disabilities and school kids who lost their free at-school meals during the mandatory shutdowns. 

In addition, activities ranging from birthday socials to movie outings keep seniors busy and connected with their peers. 

Guest speakers often make presentations on topics such as maintaining healthy blood pressure, choosing the right residential facility and avoiding scams. 

For Meals on Wheels recipients, the daily deliveries are about much more than the food. Center volunteers often sit on the porch with clients and listen to their stories, and they’re able to call for help if they discover that someone has fallen or become ill. 

“I tell my volunteers, ‘You’re not just driving around dropping food off. You can save somebody’s life,’” Callahan adds. 

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