Just after the exciting purchase of the new Richmond Active Living Center to benefit local seniors, coronavirus forced the center to shut its doors to the vulnerable population just two months later.

But the work of volunteers and staff with the Kentucky River Foothills Development Council — who help operate the facility — did not stop. More specifically, the group has worked to continue delivering meals to seniors they serve.

"Since day one, Foothills’ staff have been on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic," said Heather Slone, director of the Richmond Active Living Center. "Although programming has been suspended at the center, they have continued serving our community’s most vulnerable population through home delivered meals. These meals are a lifeline for seniors who are home-bound and/or unable to cook or obtain supplies to cook."

When the mandate came for the center to close, Foothills began its mission to accommodate an unprecedented number of meal delivery sign-ups.

According to Slone, as of July 8, the center has delivered 9,015 meals and currently serves more than 90 seniors, a steep increase from the 18 they served in March.

The meal delivery program relies on behalf of four volunteers.

"We are thankful to have four wonderful volunteers who are willing to assist us on the frontline to assure that our seniors' needs are being met, and that they can remain healthy at home," Slone said. "Without our volunteers, we simply could not do what we do."

Additionally, she told The Register, staff conducts wellness checks by phone and makes sure clients have essential home necessities. The Richmond Police Department also assists the center with telephone calls and wellness checks for seniors.

"COVID-19 has presented many challenges," she said. "It has turned life upside down for just about everyone. Because older adults are at a higher risk of serious COVID-19 complications, they have limited their activities. Seniors' social and emotional well-being has been compromised. They miss seeing each other and staff every day."

Programming will be reinstated as soon as possible as the agency is following the guidance from Gov. Andy Beshear.

The Richmond Active Living Center also relies on monetary and in-kind donations, such as cleaning supplies, household supplies, puzzle books, jigsaw puzzles and sweet/savory snacks.

To make a donation or to check eligibility to receive meals, call 859-623-0474. All services are available to seniors 60 years old and older. There are no income guidelines.

Reach Taylor Six at 624-6623 or follow her on Twitter @TaylorSixRR.

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