By Beth Christian Broschart
The Parsons Advocate
PARSONS – On Thursday, Tucker County Senior Center Executive Director Roxanne Tuesing received the Gene Salem Award in Charleston. The award, presented by the West Virginia Directors of Senior and Community Services, was established in 2010 in honor of Kathryn Gene Salem, the director of the Mason County Senior Center for 28 years.
The award is given each year to someone who demonstrates selflessness, exhibits a long-term commitment to service and the betterment of the aging network and who has had a significant impact on the lives of senior citizens.
Tuesing was nominated by Randolph County Senior Center Director Laura Ward who said she feels Tuesing is one of the most giving people she has every met in her life.
“Selfless is a wonderful way to describe Roxanne,” Ward said. “Tireless is another – she is honestly the human equivalent of the Energizer bunny. She has been serving Tucker County seniors selflessly and tirelessly for more than 30 years.”
Ward said when someone has a need and that need is brought to Tuesing’s attention, she does everything in her power to insure that need is not only met, but a long-lasting solution for the situation is also determined.
“She successfully managed a project to build a much needed new VA Clinic in Parsons. Though that might not be a project most of us would have on our radar as senior center directors, she identified the need of the Veterans in her county and beyond, thought out of the box for a solution and worked tirelessly to make it a reality,” Ward said.
Ward said Tuesing understands the importance of working with others in the community to best serve Tucker County Seniors.
“A police officer once showed up at the Tucker County Senior Center late in the day. He had an elderly man who had encountered a bad situation. The man was hungry and had no place to live,” Ward said. “Roxanne did not say ‘we serve lunch tomorrow at noon.’ She did not say ‘we don’t have housing.’ She simply told the police officer to leave the gentleman in her care and she would make sure he was taken care of.
Tuesing fixed the man a meal and made some calls until she found him a warm, safe place to live.
“She saved him. She wouldn’t put it that way, because to her that is just what you do,” Ward said. “But I will say it, because it is true and because it is not what everyone would do. It is what she does. It is a demonstration of her endless compassion, her unwavering faith in her fellow man. It is what sets her apart.”
Ward said she never had the pleasure of meeting Gene Salem.
“I have been told she was a truly inspirational, sweet woman who exhibited a real passion to make the lives of seniors better,” Ward said. “Whether on the local or state level, within her own community or within our Association, Roxanne Tuesing has exhibited the same wonderful qualities for which Mrs. Salem was so loved and respected. I am honored to work with Roxanne and even more honored to call her my friend.”
Ward said there were two people nominated for the Gene Salem Award, and the winner was selected by members of the West Virginia Directors of Senior and Community Services Association. The most recent recipients of the Gene Salem Award include Brenda Wilmoth, former Executive Director of the Barbour County Senior Center in 2015; Scott Mallery, Executive Director of the Mineral County Aging & Family Services of Mineral County in 2014; and Dinah Mills, Executive Director of Lewis County Senior Center in 2013.
Gene Salem was the Executive Director for Mason County Senior Citizens. Tuesing said they shared a board of director’s president.
“We had an instant connection,” Tuesing said. “She loved the seniors in her county and did everything she could to make their lives better. She worked to assure they had the programs they need and always put the seniors before her own needs.”
Tuesing said she was honored to learn she was selected for the Gene Salem Award.
“I am honored and humbled to be selected to follow in her footsteps,” Tuesing said. “She was such a great lady. She was truly a good example to follow.”