While living in Sacramento, Kathryn Douglass found herself making frequent visits to Virginia City.
"I felt like a moth drawn to a flame," she said.
In awe of the small city, its wealth of history and interesting people, Douglass moved to Virginia City in June 2001.
"I just fell in love with it."
Douglass, 58, holds a degree in history from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. Much of the history she read about was on the Comstock.
"I came to the (Storey County) senior center for Thanksgiving dinner with a friend. Then I volunteered and just fell in love with the place."
Douglass has been the center's director since July 2003. Her responsibilities include congregate meals, Meals on Wheels, programming, social activities and taking care of the building.
"Part of the job has a social service aspect. We get people to doctors appointments, take them shopping, recreation. There's never a dull moment here."
But the job Douglass enjoys so much also has a downside. Members get ill and have to move to long-term care facilities, or they die.
"It is sometimes sad," she said. "But it's amazing when you talk with the people and I hear their history. It's wonderful. I've met some really incredible people here."
Douglass is unmarried and has no children. She lives with her cat, Whitby, named for the English seaport where Bram Stoker wrote "Dracula."
The other part of her life she loves is her graphic art. Prior to taking the job as center director, Douglass was a graphic artist. She is proud of the time she spent with Griselda Pollack, an art historian and critic, in England.
"I wrote to her saying I wanted to study with her. She wrote back, and I went to England. I was there from 1993 to 1996. It was a fascinating experience."
In Virginia City, Douglass is happy being a homebody. Friends share stories of their outdoor activities, like four-wheeling on their quads, but she is content with reading a book.
"I'd rather be in my home. I always look forward to reading, especially about this area."
Douglass enjoys listening to seniors tell stories about their lives and experiences and encourages others to do the same.
She needs sponsors for the center's Lifeline program, a medical alert system.
"It costs about $35 a month, plus installation," Douglass said. "We need to reach out to the (Virginia) Highlands area. I'm sure there's more people out there we could help."
To donate to any of the programs, call Douglass at 847-0957.
"Deep down, I feel like I'm just visiting, kind of like being on Earth. But I don't know if I'll ever feel like this about another place."
n Contact Rhonda Costa-Landers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1223.