Mount Vernon Fairfax County is rich with senior living centers, according to Julie Ellis, Director of the Mount Vernon Center. The Mount Vernon Center, Hollin Hall Senior Center for Creative Retirement, just celebrated its 30th anniversary in January.
Ellis, who has been the director for 12 years, said the Health Awareness and physical fitness programs are what bring most senior citizens to the center for their initial visit.
“One thing that brings people through the doors, I know it is scary for some people, is our Health Awareness programs and the exercise-physical activities,” Ellis said. All 13 “senior centers [in Fairfax County] are required to have certain programming, some have more than others. One center may have Thai chi, one may not. Some might have low impact yoga where others do not.”
She said there are also popular activities for people who are not looking for exercise opportunities. There are activities at all the centers for the mind and the body.
“The second most popular activity is bridge,” Ellis said. “Bridge is supposed to be great for the mind. Some people have been playing for years — people live for bridge.”
Being so close to the District, travel opportunities are easy for Fairfax County senior centers to coordinate, especially for the Alexandria centers like Mount Vernon.
“The local trips are very popular,” Ellis said. “We get a certain amount per year. We are so fortunate to be so close to D.C. There are museums, the theater and ball games.”
Ellis said the Hollin Hall Senior Center for Creative Retirement would not be what it is without the volunteers. Ninety-nine percent of the programs are volunteer run, which she said “really adds to the quality of the programming.”
Participants in the programs have a big say in what is offered at the center, as there is a 12-person Advisory Board with elections every November.
Where there used to not be a cost to gain access to senior centers like Hollin Hall, now there is a $48 annual fee for Fairfax County residents and a $100 annual fee if you live outside the County.
If there is anything she could change about Fairfax County’s senior centers, Ellis said she would lower the age definition of “senior” so more people could benefit from all centers have to offer.
“My cohorts and I would like to lower the age to 50,” Ellis said.
She said that summer activities are consistent with the rest of the year’s offerings.
She encourages seniors to get involved by visiting the Hollin Hall Senior Center for Creative Retirement in person or by checking out the programs at www.hollinhallseniorcenter.org.