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Seniors Group Takes Next Step

County approves proposal, next event set for Oct. 2 at Great Falls Park.

Seniors observe a presentation on the history of the Dranesville Tavern at the Great Falls Senior Center Without Walls event Tuesday, Sept. 11.

Seniors observe a presentation on the history of the Dranesville Tavern at the Great Falls Senior Center Without Walls event Tuesday, Sept. 11. Photo by T.R. Cook

— The Great Falls Senior Center Without Walls held its latest event Tuesday, Sept. 11 and had their proposal approved the same day by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. The center seeks to join 13 other facilities in the County that are dedicated to meeting the needs of the senior community.

"Currently there is no ‘brick and mortar’ senior service facility in the area, so the Center Without Walls concept is being designed to provide services for older adults by working with the existing resources in the community," reads a letter sent by the board after the unanimous approval.

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From left, Great Falls Seniors Group Chair Bob Lundegard introduces historian Walter Harrison at the Dranesville Tavern Tuesday, Sept. 11.

"The primary focus of the center will be to provide a wealth of activities for older adults in the Great Falls community through a collaborative network of public and private entities," said Supervisor John Foust (D-Dranesville) at the board’s Sept. 1 meeting. "These activities will be created to meet seniors’ cultural and service needs. Programs will encompass a variety of interests, from lectures to exercise classes for the mind and body, and from tours to bridge games."

The Great Falls Center Without Walls would be only the second in the County using the "without walls" concept. The Burke-West Springfield center was founded in 2009 by Corazon Sandoval Foley, who felt the need to bring a senior center to Springfield, which did not have one.

"This meant that seniors were forced to drive to other districts to be part of affordable programs," she said.

Great Falls faces a similar problem, with residents traveling to Reston, Vienna, Herndon, and in some cases even farther, for senior services.

Since there is no formal community center in Great Falls, the center without walls will move from venue to venue each month, using churches and other resources.

The center’s Sept. 11 event was their second, and it took place at Dranesville Tavern, focusing on local history. According to a survey conducted by the seniors group, 45.5 percent of senior respondents said they were interested in educational programming.

"Our top goal is to listen to our audience, and this landmark is so rich with history and significance that we felt we could all learn something new and relevant about our neighborhood," said Bob Lundegard, chair of the seniors group. "We had such an overwhelming response to the July event when we traced the evolution of Great Falls from its origins at Forestville that the Great Falls Historical Society is co-presenting the September event with us. It seemed to be a natural collaboration, considering where we are meeting."

Two presentations, one on the history of the tavern and one about the Battle of Dranesville, took place before lunch, and musician Jerry Stewart performed music and told stories from the Civil War after lunch.

The senior center’s next event will be Oct. 2 at Great Falls Park. It will feature a walking tour and a presentation about the Potomac Canal in the park’s auditorium. The event will be from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Admission to the park is $5, and people over 62 can purchase a lifetime pass for $10. Seating is limited, and seats can be reserved by e-mailing Linda Fernald at lindafernald1@verizon.net.