Friends of the McLean Community Center began as McLean Community Center, Inc. (MCC, Inc.), on June 30, 1964. Encouraged by, among others, the McLean Citizens Association, and comprised of representatives from local community organizations, MCC, Inc. set about the task of building a community center. They found a site, raised funds, purchased land, arranged for the original bond issue to be placed on the ballot, and supported its 1970 passage. They guided the Center’s design, proposed programmatic plans, and formulated its management plan, which included the Center’s relationship with the County and the method of Governing Board selection. It is due to Friends’ insistence that McLean today enjoys local control of Center funds and operations. Friends successfully fought for Governing Board members to be popularly elected, rather than popularly nominated and selected by the Supervisor.
The inaugural MCC Governing Board, elected in 1971, counted eight MCC, Inc. directors among its nine adult members. MCC, Inc. transitioned into an advisory role for the years leading up to and following the Center’s opening in late 1975. Although MCC, Inc. had discussed internally, as early as 1971, an evolution into a support arm for the Center, it was not until 1977 that MCC, Inc. changed its name to Friends and started towards its present form and function.
In response to the foreseen increased need for volunteer and capital support occasioned by the Governing Board’s expansion plans, the Friends in April 1981 changed its by-laws to become a membership organization, open to all in the McLean community. The rest of the decade saw major public relations and capital campaigns by Friends, which, respectively, resulted in the strong passage of the 1985 bond referendum for facility expansion and the addition of a balcony to the Alden Theatre.
In the 1990’s, Friends provided funds to furnish the Center’s commercial kitchen for the use of instructional classes, special events, and rentals. Additionally, Friends financed the installation of acoustical panels in the Center’s meeting rooms.
In the 2000’s, Friends has underwritten a display of historic photographs in the Maffitt and Stedman meeting rooms to honor McLean’s Centennial. Friends also commissioned a portrait of Robert Ames Alden, now hanging in the Center’s lobby, provided an interactive kiosk, began the annual Meet the Candidates reception for MCC Governing Board aspirants, and hosted a Friends 50th Anniversary Celebration in recognition of our members legacy of achievement and community support. Today, as we look to the future, we have begun working with the MCC Board to see how we may enhance the upcoming Center expansion. We hope you will join us.