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McLean Community Center provides a sense of community for residents of Small District 1A-Dranesville by offering programs, assisting community organizations and furnishing facilities for civic, cultural, educational, recreational and social activities.

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PAL volunteer Nancy Murray and her dog Cameo participated in the session.Therapy Dogs Lift Hearts and Bring Happiness to the Old Firehouse

People Animals Love (PAL) is a Washington, D.C. based nonprofit whose mission is “to utilize the human-animal bond to brighten the lives of the lonely, ease the pain of the sick, and enrich the world of at-risk children.”

PAL volunteers now visit the Old Firehouse Center (OFC) once a month to provide a pet therapy session for OFC members and other guests. 

At the most recent visit in February, volunteers brought four dogs to the center. Longtime volunteer Nancy Murray brought her dog Cameo, a Collie/Husky mix; Sari Clark brought her King Charles Spaniel named Max; John Herold brought his dog Samantha (“Sammy” for short) a golden retriever; and Dave Gelman brought his border collie mix, Destiny.

Gelman, who owns three pet therapy dogs, said a dog must have the right personality to become a therapy dog. The PAL volunteers also have offered their services at the Paws to Read programs at Falls Church and Arlington libraries, McLean High School, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and Sunrise Assisted Living facilities in the area.

“The teens love the dogs and come every month. It is special to see them make an emotional connection,” said Teen Center Manager Ashlyn Thompson. Longfellow Middle School student Maddie Ernst agrees. She spent some time with Destiny during the session. “I like it. It’s fun and my friends from school are here.”Longfellow Middle School students Benjamin Price and Nicholas Pudleiner with Destiny.


For more information, contact the Old Firehouse at 703‑448‑8336 or oldfirehouse@mcleancenter.org.

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