Juan Tuason, 49, has lived in McLean since 1980, graduating from Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington and working for 15 years at Fannie Mae in its corporate program management office. When his father John had health issues, he cared for him for seven years before his death. As the homebound minister at St. John the Beloved Catholic Church in McLean, he was exposed to the needs of seniors in the community and decided to start his own home care business supporting them.
Tuason is president of the McLeanCVA – the McLean Community Village Association – a volunteer-managed, non-profit organization focused on making McLean a friendlier place for seniors to age in place. Today, the group has 677 members ages 50-and-above who live in the ZIP codes 22101 and 22102. Later this year, they plan to move into an office at Lewinsville Senior Center, 1515 Great Falls Street in McLean, which is currently under construction.
The group focuses on three main areas: (1) providing resource information for seniors – they staff a help desk (McLean Senior Source) at the Dolley Madison Library in McLean and provide information on senior-related topics/events; (2) managing a community calendar; and, (3) organizing events that provide residents with social and enrichment venues.
THE HELP DESK is staffed by volunteers Tuesdays and Thursdays 1-3 p.m. at the library, and seniors can walk-in with no appointment and find resources they need like transportation and social connections.
“One of the things we’re hoping to do is to be the one-stop shop for McLean residents on elder care resources and social events … offering face-to-face interaction with human-touch resources,” said Tuason, adding that seniors are less likely to access the internet to find things. He said they work closely with the Fairfax County Office Aging, Disability & Caregiver Resources Line (703-324-7948) … “It’s a catch-all hotline for County services,” he said.
What he found missing here was the social connection, so in 2017, they expanded the mission to include social activities. Partnering with AARP, they cohost a monthly luncheon at Mylo’s Grill in McLean for about 40 attendees. “It’s gotten traction where people are looking forward to it,” he said. “I want to help create opportunity for seniors even if they’re homebound, to give them a place to keep their social balance and not get isolated,” he said.
In addition, they publish a community calendar (https://www.mcleancva.org) that includes monthly luncheons and speakers. They’ve opened the calendar to allow their partners to post their own events.
On the website, they also publicize events hosted by Dranesville Supervisor John Foust’s office at the McLean Governmental Center, on topics, for example, like fraud, scams and the opioid crisis; another is a link to the census survey by Fairfax County to help determine the needs of seniors.
They offer a $25 discount card for seniors at McLean establishments. Seniors can visit the link (https://www.mcleancva.org/discounts/) to find sponsors, such as: J. Gilbert’s, Pasa Thai, Pulcinella, Michael’s Salon & Spa, Dominion Barber, McLean Face & Body Spa, and more.
They also do two marquee events a year – On Sunday, April 7, 2019, from 2-4 p.m., they are hosting a “Voices of Spring” fundraiser, an operatic dress rehearsal with the Washington Opera Society. It will be led by Maestro Dr. Scott Beard, and held at the Alden Theatre at the McLean Community Center (1234 Ingleside Ave., McLean). The centerpiece of the show will be large ensemble pieces in Vincenzo Bellini’s “I Puritani.” It features international singers such as Argentine baritone Gustavo Ahualli, Mexican tenor Jesús Daniel Hernández, Egyptian-born soprano Fairouz Foty, Puerto Rican mezzo Anamer Castrello, coloratura soprano Elizabeth Treat, and baritone Jack French. Tickets are $25/members; $35/general admission; at the door $30/$40.
LAST YEAR, they hosted a simulcast with Dr. Atul Gawande with 200 attendees at Temple Rodef Shalom in Falls Church. He is famous for authoring the book on aging called “Being Mortal.”
Tuason said the top resource people are concerned about in McLean is transportation. “McLean is not the easiest place to get around in as far as bus stops or public transportation,” he said. “When someone needs a cataract procedure done, the doctor mandates that the person who drives them there has to stay; they have to have an escort. So, trying to solve that problem, they’ll call us.”
The No. 2 request is for service-related for things like an attorney or financial advisor. For that, they partner with the Greater McLean Chamber of Commerce.
The No. 3 request is questions about social opportunities such as Mahjong or book clubs. “We maintain a database of resources and we give them recommendations based on our list of resources. It’s a constant effort that we’re reaching out,” he said.
He added: “The danger for seniors in McLean is that they are not a priority for government resources and attention because there’s an assumption that they can take care of themselves. Many citizens in McLean are long-time residents. Not everybody, and especially the elderly in McLean, probably have a lower median income than the typical resident in McLean, and they’re less likely to have the resources and they are more likely to be needing help than the average McLean resident.”
Volunteers are encouraged to sign up on the website to work at the help desk in one-hour shifts. It’s ideal for retirees who enjoy talking to other seniors and helping them. For more information, visit the website (https://www.mcleancva.org), email Juan Tuason at info@McLeanCVA.org, or call 703-300-1751.