Senior Services of Alexandria Fosters Seniors' Independence

Senior Services of Alexandria Fosters Seniors' Independence

This ALX Impact story is brought to you by McLaughlin Ryder Investments

Story by Dawn Klavon | Photography Courtesy of Senior Services of Alexandria

The following story is dedicated to the selfless firefighters and first responders who battled the recent fire at the warehouse storing the Meals on Wheels inventory. A special thanks to Jeffrey's Catering, for always leading the charge on senior hunger, as well as Senior Services of Alexandria, Goodwin Living, volunteers at the Chinquapin Center and the Alexandria Sheriff’s Department for showing us all that not even a blazing inferno can keep Alexandria from leaving a single senior behind.

Senior citizens sure don’t have it easy. Between keeping up with medical care, living on a fixed income and taking care of their aging bodies, it’s a lot.

“Being a senior citizen is not for the faint of heart—things start to happen when you least expect them,” says 84-year-old Alexandria retiree Jill Miller. “Dealing with these surprises can throw you off your stride.”

To support seniors in a variety of ways, non-profit organization Senior Services of Alexandria (SSA) offers comprehensive resources to help. Whether it is through their programs like Meals on Wheels, Friendly Visitor, DOT Paratransit, AniMeals on Wheels, Groceries to Go or Information and Education Outreach, seniors can enjoy their golden years with community support.

“We’re the only nonprofit that serves all older adults in the City of Alexandria,” says SSA Executive Director Mary Lee Anderson.

Residents 60 or older who live in Alexandria zip codes 22301, 22302, 22304, 22305, 22311 and 22314 are eligible. With a mission to “foster independence and self-sufficiency, enabling seniors within the City of Alexandria to age with dignity,” about 3,000 seniors are served annually.

“We’re trying to reach seniors who have never been reached before, in meaningful ways, in the community, to make sure they’re connected." - Mary Lee Anderson

Care Overcoming a Fire

One important service SSA provides to seniors is Meals on Wheels. Recently, the meal program was affected by a warehouse fire that impacted Jeffery’s Catering. The Department of Community and Human Services and SSA stepped up to ensure the continued delivery of meals to participating residents. Goodwin Living, one of SSA’s partners, provided Meals on Wheels clients meals for several weeks until Jeffrey’s Catering was able to take over. Alexandria’s Recreation Department also coordinated a new pick-up location at Chinquapin Center. This new location was where volunteers picked up hot and cold meals daily. The Alexandria Sheriff’s Department also assisted in delivering meals during snowy winter weather.

“It makes you feel really good about Alexandria and how people just step up if you just ask."

SSA proudly operates the Meals on Wheels delivery through its Senior Nutrition Program. It is designed to be a life-sustaining program, providing two nutritious meals a day to be delivered to seniors unable to leave their homes or have challenges preparing meals. The meals are delivered every day of the year by faithful volunteers.

Did Someone Say Free Grocery Delivery?

Another helpful program SSA provides is the Groceries to Go program, available to seniors living in the City of Alexandria who are 60+. Each recipient creates a personalized shopping list and groceries are ordered based on the lists, then delivered by screened volunteers, year-round, every other week. Recipients pay no delivery fees, nor are they required to make a minimum order.

Groceries to Go volunteers shop, deliver groceries and are happy to put away the food if recipients desire. The goal of the program is to improve the safety, health and nutrition of seniors in Alexandria.

“It makes a real difference for people who have some sort of a disability that makes grocery shopping unsafe,” says Anderson.

Seniors interested in the program must be residents of the City of Alexandria, be at least 60 years old and have a debit, credit or EBT card. For more information about the Groceries to Go program, contact (703) 836-4414, ext. 112.

Friendly Visitor Program

Loneliness is something the SSA attempts to combat for seniors in the community. The Friendly Visitor program provides social interaction to seniors, thus improving their quality of life. The program sends individually matched, meticulously screened and carefully trained volunteers to visit socially isolated seniors living in assisted living and healthcare communities, as well as in their own homes, condos and apartments. Volunteers are paired with seniors depending on similar interests and life experiences; the social interaction, mental stimulation and emotional support enhances the senior’s life and can be beneficial. Volunteers visit seniors weekly for one hour. SSA is proud to say that since 2012, over 300 matches have been made, serving Alexandria’s senior community.

For those interested in volunteering for the Friendly Visitor program, or those Alexandria seniors interested in receiving a friendly visitor, contact Tanya Edwards at (703) 836-4414, ext. 120.

Meals on Wheels for Pets

SSA partners with the Alexandria Animal Welfare League to provide free pet food delivery to eligible seniors. Every second Thursday monthly, participants receive 10 cans of wet food or 10 pounds of dry food. For more information, call (703) 836-4414, ext. 120.

Paratransit Transport

Senior residents of Alexandria who have difficulty with public transportation can receive safe, reliable, Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant, curb-to-curb taxi service from DOT Paratransit seven days a week.

The program is helpful to those on a fixed income. According to the SSA website, DOT does not charge for one-way trips within the City of Alexandria. For trips up to five miles outside city limits, the one-way fare is $4.00. DOT’s one-way fare for trips over five miles outside the City of Alexandria is $6.00. This service has over 1,500 registered clients and provides over 50,000 rides annually.

“If you have a disability, regardless of age, that makes public transportation difficult for you, you can apply for the DOT program; it’s a very low-cost way to get anywhere in the city, Fairfax, Arlington or DC,” Anderson says.

SSA reservationists are happy to schedule rides for clients in coordination with the City of Alexandria and Diamond Transportation. For questions regarding the program, call (703) 836-4414, ext. 116. For those interested in signing up for the DOT program, call Tytiana White at (703) 746-4084 or email


Plan to participate in SSA monthly webinars and the Senior Ambassador Program. SSA works to ensure that each Senior Living in Alexandria speakers series program presents a relevant, timely topic interesting to seniors. SSA provides local experts to speak on topics designed collaboratively with local agencies and nonprofits. Senior ambassadors are trained volunteers who advocate for seniors and share information about programs and services in the City of Alexandria. Presently, there are 130 senior ambassadors. For more information about the Senior Ambassador program, call MaryAnne Beatty at (703) 836-4414, ext. 113.

“We get information out to them every week, so they can share it with the people they represent,” Anderson says.

Get Involved

There are plenty of ways to support seniors in the City of Alexandria. Volunteering is a wonderful opportunity to get involved and make a difference. Also, SSA welcomes financial support from individuals, employer-matching gift programs, bequests, in-kind support, corporate and foundation giving, special events, celebratory and remembrance gifts and volunteering.

“The great thing about volunteering … is you’re interacting with people who, most likely, you’re the only person they’re going to see that day and you’re their connection to the community,” Anderson says.

For more information about giving, contact Medea Ranck, Development Director, at (703) 836-4414, ext. 114.

Senior Services of Alexandria is located on the third floor at 206 N Washington St, Suite 30 in Old Town Alexandria.

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