State and local dignitaries joined local senior citizens Tuesday to celebrate a large grant given to the Ashland Senior Center by BP Oil.
Brent Clark of John Clark Oil, who also is one of the presidents of the center’s board of directors, presented Ashland Senior Center Director Kim Rice with a check for $20,000 from BP Fueling Communities Program. The grant is about a fourth the size of the center’s annual budget.
“We’ve already spent most of it,” Rice said, noting the center recently repaired two broken windows and added air conditioning in the kitchen using some of the grant.
The center was nominated for the Fueling Communities program by the John W. Clark Oil Co., a BP distributor and operator of Clark’s Pump-N-Shop stores throughout Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia.
A major improvement from the grant came in the form of a commercial dishwasher.
Rice said kitchen workers previously ran a load of dishes and washed the rest by hand; a cycle lasted an hour.
Now all dishes can go through the washer as cycles last only two minutes.
Guests at the luncheon Tuesday included Ashland Mayor Tom Kelley, Mayor-elect Chuck Charles, United Way Director Steve Towler, Ashland City Commissioners Larry Brown, Kevin Gunderson, Marty Gute and Tom Cantrell and State Sen. Walter Blevins.
In the last seven years, the center has grown from about 20 regulars to 60.
“I don’t think everyone is aware of what we do here at the center,” Rice said. “But good news travels fast. We have fun and care about each other. We’re like family.”
Loretta Carpenter said what Rice says is true.
The 77-year-old Ashland woman attended the luncheon with her friend, Kathy Chamis, to celebrate news of the grant.
“I can’t give Kim enough accolades,” said Carpenter, who became a regular after her husband died nearly four years ago. “She really cares and loves us.”
Rice said she hopes the center will move into a larger building or will be able to expand the current building to accommodate the growth.
The center receives funding from the United Way, Community Development Block Grants, the City of Ashland and Boyd County as well as donations.
LEE WARD can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2661.