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Five More Questions with Mary Lee Anderson, Alexandria’s Senior Services Executive Director

Mary Lee Anderson was hired as a contractor for Senior Services of Alexandria before becoming the executive director in 2013. (Photo courtesy of Mary Lee Anderson).

ALEXANDRIA, VA – On Wednesday you heard Mary Lee Anderson, answer “10 Questions” from guest host Jane Hess Collins about herself, Senior Services of Alexandria, and how Alexandrians can get involved in our great city during our Z-TV LIVE! show. Here are five more questions with Mary Lee:

  1. You were a French major in college. What is your favorite French food for lunch or dinner?

French bread with a cheese like Roquefort or a nice, soft brie. That may not sound like a meal but it is to me.

  1. What is the biggest challenge that seniors face today?

In Alexandria it’s the cost of housing. It’s the number one issue for just about everyone in Alexandria. Even if you own your home and are older adult, that’s great, but the property tax is not insignificant to older adults. Many of them are leaving town. The city does offer property tax relief for older adults who are within a certain income level. It’s a sliding scale of 25 percent to up to 100 percent tax relief depending on your income level. It’s something worth exploring, especially for older adults who may have high value property and have been there forever but are on a fixed income.

Another difficulty for seniors is that financial relief for COVID-19 has been driven by a loss of income and that doesn’t always apply to seniors. Most seniors are on a fixed income, and they may have increased expenses to order food or hire caregivers, but they aren’t eligible for relief.

And for seniors who rent, there are a lot of eviction notices coming out now because the moratorium has ended. Plus, the cost of housing is rising and again, many seniors are on a fixed income.

It’s always better with cookies! Mary Lee (center) still keeps in touch with her college friends from Dickinson College. (Photo courtesy of Mary Lee Anderson).
  1. How long have you worked in Alexandria?

I’ve lived here since the late 1970s but I worked in DC for part of that. I’ve worked in Alexandria for 25 years. Before Senior Services of Alexandria I had my own business doing daily financial management for older adults. And before that I was a stay-at-home mom but I stayed really involved. My kids went to Burgundy Farm Country Day School and I was on their board and did fundraising for them. My first job was in international telecommunication but I was always in Alexandria.

  1. Who is your celebrity crush?

Oh, Paul Newman, Cary Grant, the old classic movie stars with that handsome, chiseled look.

  1. What is one unexpected happy thing that has happened to you during quarantine?

The DCHS Zoom calls! (Note: The City of Alexandria Department of Community and Human Services holds a weekly call with service organization to discuss COVID-19 support and response). I love those calls! When Kate [Garvey, the director] changed them to every two weeks I was sad. I looked forward to them every Friday. It really pumps me up to hear what we’ve done in this city. When it first started I thought, “Do we really need another zoom call?” Now they make me happy.

VIDEO INTERVIEW “Ten Questions” with Mary Lee Anderson

To See More of the ‘FIVE MORE QUESTIONS’ series, click here.

RELATED: Do You Have a Vehicle to Donate to Support Seniors?




Jane Collins

Jane Hess Collins is a communications consultant and coach, and holds a masters’ degree in Public Relations & Corporate Communications from Georgetown University. She is the founder and executive director of Heard, an Alexandria-based nonprofit that teaches life skills disguised as art to underserved populations. She retired from the United States Air Force in 2009.

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