Falls Church Recognizes Marymount’s Work at Senior Center

Ellen Salsbury, a volunteer with the Falls Church Senior Center, publicly thanked one of her heroes at the Nov. 27 City Council meeting.

“She has relieved technology anxiety for a lot of us,” Salsbury said of Dr. Diane Murphy, a Marymount University professor. “She brings in graduate students to assist in our tech classes, and as a result we seniors are much more comfortable with technology and social media. We’re even texting!”

Salsbury introduced Professor Murphy, and Bridget Murphy, associate provost, who accepted a plaque from Falls Church Mayor David Tarter “in appreciation of the Marymount University faculty volunteers for exceptional generosity and expertise in providing outstanding practical and academic classes that enrich the lives of seniors.”

Salsbury said 11 different Marymount faculty members had volunteered their time and more than 220 seniors had been enrolled in eight classes since the partnership began in 2014. She credited Dr. Liane M. Summerfield, an MU professor who was then associate vice president for academic affairs, with helping start the popular classes.

“They get seniors out of their house and involved with other people,” she said.

Dr. Murphy, chair of Marymount University’s Information Technology, Management Sciences and Cybersecurity Department, has enjoyed her involvement.

“It’s been very satisfying to teach seniors the technology that has been promoted by their children and grandchildren and see them develop some skills,” she said.

Workshop topics have ranged from technology use to journalism and politics. Falls Church Recreation and Parks Director Daniel Schlitt said that since MU became involved they’ve helped take the Senior Center workshops “over the top.”

“Classes typically have 25 participants and are so popular there’s always a waiting list,” Schlitt said. “They introduce our senior citizens to so many different and interesting subjects.”

Typically, each workshop involves two-hour classes held for two or three sessions.

The most-recent offering, “Books: From the Beginning of Print to Digital Age,” explored the history of books, offered tips on preserving personal and rare books, and included a demonstration of traditional printmaking.

Bridget Murphy noted that Marshall Webster, references services supervisor at the Mary Riley Styles Public Library, always supplies a bibliography of material available at the library on the topic at hand.

“During our last class he actually came with books and an iPad so people could check out books on the spot,” Murphy said.

“It’s a very engaging group of people, and they want to be there,” Murphy said. “They have fabulous questions, and we have some very interesting discussion amongst all of us.”

Marymount University is an independent, coeducational Catholic university offering bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in a wide range of disciplines.

Photo caption
Front, from left: Marshall Webster of Mary Riley Styles Public Library; Senior Center volunteers Debbie Massey and Ellen Salsbury; Dr. Diane Murphy and Associate Provost Bridget Murphy of Marymount University; Danny Schlitt, director of the Falls Church Recreation and Parks Department. Back, from left: City Council members Letty Hardi, Karen Oliver, David Snyder, Mayor David Tarter, Vice Mayor Marybeth Connelly, Phil Duncan and Dan Sze. (Photo credit: City of Falls Church)