Catholic Charities class teaches skills for healthy living

The Weston Region of Catholic Charities W.Va. is teaming up with several supporting community organizations to help encourage people to maintain a healthier lifestyle and be more self-sufficient.

The group is offering five two-hour classes to help participants master many skills associated with those goals. Supporting community organizations include the Elkins-Randolph County YMCA, the Randolph County Office of Emergency Management and the West Virginia University Extension Office.

Some of the topics included in the sessions are grocery budgeting, menu planning, nutrition, gardening, exercise, food preservation, emergency preparedness and healthy cooking skills. During the first class, participants learned to make a healthy appleslaw.

“Our goal with this program is not just to help people by giving them food, but to teach them how to work within a budget, make healthy choices, create menus and compare unit prices to get the most for their money,” said Teresa Wymer, Catholic Charities W.Va., Weston Region Case Manager/Outreach Coordinator. “We hope to help people improve their awareness of choices, and help them become more self-sufficient. We also want to show people how to prepare foods available at the local food pantries.”

The YMCA is helping with the program in many ways – they are providing the meeting space and kitchen space, as well as offering the participants a month pass to the YMCA.

“I think this is a great program,” said Sid Gillispie, executive director of the YMCA. “We want to be a part of people making healthy choices and educating people about healthy lifestyles. The three best things people can do are making sure they get good sleep, exercise and eat healthy. We are pleased to be able to help people with these steps.”

Gillispie said the passes given to participants will be marked each time they come to the Y and exercise.

“Those participants who use the facility 20 or more times during the course of the trainings will be eligible for a $500 gift card,” Gillispie said. “The card is not transferable, and can be redeemed only for classes or membership at the YMCA.”

Barbara McCauley, of Beverly, said she is enjoying the class.

“I wanted to learn how to budget to make my grocery money go further,” McCauley said. “I am also excited to learn to can vegetables.”

Representatives from the Randolph County Office of Emergency Management will speak to the class about local preparedness plans and how to plan for emergencies. They will also be providing participants with a family emergency guide.

A nutritional specialist will help instruct food safety and food preparation – such as canning, freezing, storing and dehydrating – during the classes.

Another aspect addressed during the classes will be basic gardening skills. Alternatives will be discussed for participants who have no yard space for gardening, such as square foot gardening, vertical gardening and container gardening. Tips about soil care and plant care will also be discussed.

Participants will receive a copy of the “Catholic Charities Cookbook,” and items will be raffled at each gathering.

If participants complete all five classes, they will receive their choice of a slow cooker, a canning kit or a dehydrator.