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Community Center Searching for Board Members

Officials at the McLean Community Center are attempting to energize the community this year in order to find new candidates for the Board of Directors slots that are open and to galvanize the community to vote in the elections this year. MCC recently made applications to the board available to all residents and is seeking three adults and two teens to run this year.

Bill Bersie, the board's director, said that there are big changes in store for MCC and this is an opportunity for residents to really get involved and to make a difference in their community. “We have a strategic plan we’ve been working on for the last two years for the Center. And, we’ve been talking about the possibility of an expansion at the Community Center in the next few years. Those are two of the big issues we will be working on coming up,” said Bersie.

Teenagers, one from the Langley High School district and one from the McLean High School district (but not necessarily those schools), also have an opportunity to effect change in their community by serving on the board. “They will be a part of the Teen Center and part of the program committee dealing with the Teen Center, so they can have an influence,” said Bersie.

The Old Firehouse Teen Center has a host of activities each year aimed at teenagers, such as dances and get-togethers. Teens involved in the board would have an opportunity to institute programs that would be more appealing to their peers and to address the needs of the teen community in a way that only someone of that age group could.

Bersie said the board has two goals this year — to get more adults and teens to run in the elections and to increase voter participation.

Even though the Community Center is the seat of numerous cultural, artistic and business functions, interest in running MCC has been lackluster for years. “No one has gone challenged in the last few years. Three adults and two teens have run for open slots of three and two,” said Bersie.

Voting for the board members has also been underwhelming in recent times, according to Sabrina Anwah, public information officer at MCC. “They don’t vote because they don’t perceive there’s any problem. But how it exists, how it is run and how it evolves is something they can be involved in,” said Anwah.

Bersie said that last year they sent out 18,000 brochures to residents on the elections but garnered only around 200 votes.

Voting takes place at McLean Day, and Anwah suspects that many people don’t cast a vote because they either don’t want to stand in line or don’t attend that function because they don’t have children who would enjoy the festivities of the day. To get around that problem, MCC is sending out absentee ballots.

Anyone in the community can choose to run for the board. An application is available at the Center. Qualifications include residency, a desire to serve on the board and being an adult of at least 18, or a youth 15-17 from one of the two school districts. Applicants who collect 10 signatures from residents on a petition to run are then put on the ballot.

Members meet once a month at MCC in the evenings. In addition to the monthly meetings, members serve on a committee dealing with local issues. There are three committees on which board members serve: the Capital Facilities Committee, the Communications Committee and the Finance Committee.

“There is some time commitment, but it’s not much. Compared with Girl Scouts or something, it’s not much at all,” said Anwah. Members also serve unpaid.

Adults serve a three-year term, and teens serve a one-year term.

“This is about community service. About being active in making things better,” said Anwah.

For more information on the MCC Governing Board Election, call the Center at 703-790-0123/TTY: TAP-TALK, or visit www.mcleancenter.org.