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Senior Center Sets Goals

After incorporation, Great Falls Senior Center plans to become nonprofit, name board by end of year.

Chef Jacques Haeringer of L’Auberge Chez Francois shows guests at the Great Falls Senior Center February event how to make chocolate truffles.

Chef Jacques Haeringer of L’Auberge Chez Francois shows guests at the Great Falls Senior Center February event how to make chocolate truffles. Bob Lundegard

The Great Falls Senior Center has big plans for 2013 after getting off the ground as a working group of the Great Falls Citizens Association.

“I think our monthly events are quickly becoming signature events in this community.”

--Bob Lundegard

The center was founded with the “center without walls” concept, meaning there isn’t a brick-and-mortar venue dedicated to senior activities. Instead it rotates between churches and other venues within Great Falls for its monthly activities.

“I think our monthly events are quickly becoming signature events in this community,” said Bob Lundegard, one of the founders of the group. “People are coming to see old friends and meet new friends, and we’re getting new people every month in addition to new guests.”

The group received a charter from the Board of Supervisors in September and was incorporated as the Great Falls Senior Center in November. Recently the group filed paperwork to become incorporated and named officers. In December they will elect a full board of 13 members, and they hope to have 501(c)3 nonprofit status as soon as possible.

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Jacques Haeringer, executive chef of L’Auberge Chez Francois in Great Falls, prepares to sign a copy of one of his latest books for a senior center guest, Audrey Wild.

“We’re not here for the short-term, we want this group to be a major part of this community for five, 10, 20 years down the road,” Lundegard said. “This is a big growth year for us, and a year where we’ll be putting a lot of the building blocks in place. By next year we should have a really solid foundation. We want members to establish ownership in the group.”

Membership to the group is $10, and they also collect donations at each event. They are also actively seeking out sponsorships from the Great Falls business community.

Part of their efforts to become an official nonprofit, where donations become tax-deductible, include being accepted in the Friends of the Fairfax County Senior Centers, an advocate for centers around the county.

Their February event featured Chef Jacques Haeringer of L’Auberge Chez Francois showing guests how to make chocolate truffles for Valentine’s Day. Other events have been at Riverbend Park, Dranesville Tavern and the Great Falls Library, in addition to local churches.

The monthly events are only part of the group’s outreach to area seniors.

“We’ve launched a series of exercise classes, right now we’ve got a six-week Tai Chi class, which costs $5, with about 20 participants and a certified instructor, thanks to the county’s office of Neighborhood and Community Services,” Fernald said. “We thought Tai Chi would be a very appropriate thing to start with, it’s serene, helps clear the mind, not a lot of jumping around. In the future we’ll be looking at exercise classes, computer classes and others sponsored by the county.”

Their next event will take place Tuesday, March 5, and it will be a question and answer session with Ric Edelman, chairman and CEO of Edeleman Financial Services.

“As a fellow resident of Great Falls, it’s a genuine pleasure to support the Great Falls Senior Center,” Edelman said. “Seniors today face crucial issues and I’m glad to offer answers to their personal finance questions.”

The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church, 1020 Springvale Road in Great Falls.

Reservations must be made to Fernald by calling 703-759-3721, or via e-mail at linda.fernald1@verizon.net.