Carpenter’s Shelter reopened its David Place facility at Landmark Mall last week and moved back all of its residents from the temporary shelter at Charles Houston Recreation Center.
Meanwhile, a number of homeless residents and families are still being housed in hotel rooms in the city — a measure that was put in place to protect them from the coronavirus.
Carol Mizoguchi, director of the Office of Community Services, said that the city still has 34 rooms under contract with the Residence Inn Old Town Alexandria South at Carlyle. She also said that the city’s rehousing funds are being used to help the residents find housing options.
“Right now we have 13 families and 19 singles that are still in the hotel, and we’re working to prioritize and move those families to permanent housing,” Mizoguchi said. “We’re utilizing our rapid rehousing dollars. Also ARHA (the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority) has vouchers, so we’ve made referrals for many of those families to receive vouchers, and hopefully, be able to find landlords that are willing to rent to the families, and they’ll have help pay for their rent.”
Carpenter’s Shelter Executive Director Shannon Steene told ALXnow that there are about 25 homeless residents back at David’s Place.
“Some of them are back in David’s Place, some of them found some other means in order to meet their needs and we’re grateful for that,” Steene said.
Jamila Smith, the Carpenter’s Shelter relationship manager, said that the nonprofit needs volunteers and supplies for their clients. She also said that residents and staff are separated by plexiglass partitions, residents are required to wear face masks indoors and that temperatures are taken on a daily basis.
“We are still looking for 20 twin air mattresses, new twin sheet sets and pillow and towel sets, cutlery and some of the basics that you would need to move into a new place,” Smith said. “We are in need of volunteers to assist at our front desk, to provide and serve food and to help organize donations.”
Great News!!!! Our families are starting to leave the hotel and move to their new homes! We are so excited for them!…
Staff photo by James Cullum
Assisting pregnant mothers, raising money for unemployed workers and buying meals for hungry residents are just a few of the causes Alexandrians are tackling through a number of GoFundMe campaigns.
The coronavirus pandemic has created a lot of need throughout the city, and a number of individuals, businesses and nonprofits have raised tens of thousands of dollars with local fundraisers.
Here is a list of Alexandria-based GoFundMe campaigns and amounts raised:
Neighborhood Restaurant Group Family Fund — “Whether you are in for penny or a pound, just know that every bit counts, and that we would not be asking were the situation anything but dire. Our employees are the lifeblood of this company and form the backbone of this amazing industry; they are the core of our communities and the heart of our restaurant family.” (Raised $47,218 out of $150,000 goal)
Helping Alexandria’s Restaurants & Medical Workers — “We’ve set up a go-fund me page where people can donate any amount of money they feel comfortable with towards the cost of meals for front line hospital workers at Inova Alexandria Hospital.
Each week of the “stay at home” order, we will be delivering individually pre-packaged meals to Alexandria Hospital.” (Raised $21,225 of $25,000 goal)
Ramparts Tavern Employee Support Fund — “Every contribution counts – no matter how small – it will make a profound impact in the lives of our outstanding staff. Your continued support during this difficult time means more to us than you will ever know.” (Raised $18,554 out of $30,000 goal)
Support Studio Body Logic Pilates COVID-19 Relief — “We are asking your financial help to get us though this difficult and unprecedented time. It is the only way we will be able to return to normal operations once this virus has been contained.” (Raised $11,385 out of $15,000 goal)
ARP Fundraiser for Carpenter’s Shelter — “During this uncertain time, ARP will continue our partnership supporting Carpenter’s Shelter to deliver meals to those in need.” (Raised $10,900 of $10,000 goal)
Financial Assistance for HGR Employees — ” If you have the financial means to donate, every dollar helps! If you do not, another way you can help is to share this fundraiser on social media!” (Raised $10,733 of $50,000 goal)
Buying Car Seats For Mothers in Need — “Alexandria Department of Health typically provides FREE car seats to those moms who would otherwise struggle to afford them. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they have not been able to provide this service.” (Raised $7,771 out of $7,500 goal)
Murphy’s Patriots Help Murphy’s STAFF — “Murphy’s staff members are our friends and neighbors. They have given us a home base for over two decades now, supporting us and our following through thick and thin. Now it is our turn to help them through this period of forced unemployment.” (Raised $6,000 of $2,500 goal)
Free Family Meals for Hospitality Workers — “Each day, we will provide different and delicious family meals FOR FREE to hospitality workers in our community who have been financially impacted by industry cut-backs. Our generous vendor partners are donating food and Cheesetique is providing facilities and staff to make this happen.” (Raised $5,970 of $2,000 goal)
M. E. Swings Coffee Barista Virtual Tip Jar — “This Virtual Tip Jar has been created as a way to support our staff who are not working and lost a significant portion of their income. We appreciate your donation if you are able to do so, it will be split equally between our staff that who are not working due to our stores being closed.” (Raised $4,040 of $4,000 goal)
Hot Meals From SOME (So Others Might Eat) — “Every $8 you donate will purchase a Hot Nepalese meal for a single adult or a few meals for families in need who are on their own during this period of social distancing. Royal Nepal, a top rated Nepalese restaurant in Alexandria, VA has worked with us to create a wholesome and delicious meal including servings of chicken, lentils, vegetables, and rice.” (Raised $3,143 of $5,000 goal)
Please Support Bow Wow Meow’s Dog-Walkers! — “COVID-19 has shut down our small business almost completely! We have no income but lots of time to rest up from our normal 10,000+ step days. :)” (Raised $2,780 of $3,000 goal)
Photo via Murphy’s Grand Irish Pub/Facebook
Sen. Kaine Features T.C. Senior Graduation Speech — “Thank you to Mathieu from T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria for encouraging the Class of 2020 to be leaders and always lend a helping hand.” [Facebook]
Beyer Calls on U.S. Attorney General to Resign — “The Attorney General is the top law enforcement officer in the country, the leader of an agency meant to protect Americans’ constitutional rights. Barr betrayed that mission by ordering the violent and systematic violation of peaceful protesters’ rights. He should resign.” [Twitter]
Departmental Progressive Club Raises Funds for Community — “Members of the Departmental Progressive Club joined forces to raise more than $1,600 to donate to Carpenter’s Shelter and the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority.” [Gazette]
Tall Ship Providence Foundation Shows Solidarity — “Our social media is blacked out in solidarity with our Black colleagues, friends and the community. We believe that Black Lives Matter.” [Facebook]
Virtual Job Fair on Thursday — “Looking for a job? Register and attend a free online event for job seekers on Thursday, June 4, 11 a.m.-12 p.m. Attendees will meet the Ajilon Professional Staffing team and learn more about immediate COVID-19 contact tracing employment opportunities in Virginia.” [City of Alexandria]
New Job: Sous Chef — “This position is a hands-on Sous Chef working the line with fellow team mates. The ideal candidate will be able to work independently, create specials and supervise staff when the chef is not present.” [Facebook]
Alexandria Family Recovers From COVID-19 — “In early March, 18-year-old Ana Murphy came down with a sinus infection. But as her symptoms persisted, her parents, Gregg and Monica Murphy, both became ill. It was then that the family began to suspect that this was not a normal seasonal virus.” [Gazette]
Beyer Criticizes Maskless President Trump at Memorial Day Ceremony — “It’s true today and every day: the President should lead by example instead of ignoring health precautions designed to protect the public.” [Twitter]
Pork Barrel BBQ Drops Off 300 Meals at COVID-19 Testing Sites — “This afternoon we dropped off 300 meals at the Landmark & Cora Kelly COVID testing sites. One of our more memorable jobs that’s for sure. THANK YOU to all the emergency responders and volunteers administering tests today, we appreciate you!” [Facebook]
Inova COVID Hospital Fund Gets $100,000 Contribution — “Twig’s contribution to this fund helps Alexandria meet the escalating needs of COVID-19 patients by providing for additional staffing, personal protection equipment for our front line heroes, specialized equipment for the unique needs of COVID-19 patients, increased services for homebound families, and other resources to address the rapidly changing situation.” [Zebra]
Here’s How to Get Rental Assistance in Alexandria — “Applications received through Friday, May 29 will be reviewed as part of the first application cycle, with priority given to applicants in the Tier 1 income range. Applications received after May 29 will be reviewed on a rolling basis contingent on funding availability.” [Facebook]
Jason and Loren Yates Donate $12K in Face Masks to Local Groups — “The masks were sent to the volunteers in local service organizations including Senior Services of Alexandria delivering Meals on Wheels, ALIVE, Carpenter’s Shelter, Casa Chirilagua, and the Grace Episcopal Food Bank.” [Zebra]
New Job: Alexandria Health Department Communications Officer — “The Communications Officer reports directly to the Population Health Manager, is AHD’s principal communications subject matter expert, and provides oversight of AHD’s internal and external communications. They plan, design, implement, and evaluate AHD public relations, publications, and promotional health and service communications.” [Indeed]
ACPS Nurses Helping Out Health Department — “When Megan Costanza, a nurse at the T.C. Williams High School Clinic got the call to say her skills were needed by the Alexandria Health Department’s Coronavirus task force, she didn’t hesitate.” [ACPS]
Carpenter’s Shelter Raising Funds for Giving Tuesday — “#GivingTuesdayNow and Do More 24 have synched efforts to help organizations like Carpenter’s Shelter raise money during this unprecedented time. Advanced giving is open, so please support Carpenter’s Shelter by donating!” [Facebook]
Second Grader Wins National Photography Award for Merit — “The National PTA announced the results of the national level of the Reflections contest last week, and Riley Zwiselsberger, a 2nd grader at Charles Barrett, for the second year in a row, won the Award of Merit (a 3rd Place NATIONAL award!!) in the Photography category for a photo called “Within the Wall of War.” His work will now be featured in a traveling exhibition!” [Facebook]
Alexandria Aces Season Canceled — “We cherish the health and safety of all of our players and their families. We 🙏🏻 this all goes away and we see everyone in 2021 for a great season of Aces Baseball! Stay safe Aces.” [Facebook]
The Dog Park Offering Discounts for Cinco De Doggo Toys — “The Dog Park will be offering a SPICY deal for Cinco de Mayo….aka Cinco de Doggo! We carry toys for both cats and dogs.” [Facebook]
ACPS Brings Back Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program — “Kids 18 and under, who are present during pick-up, will receive a fresh produce bag along with their meals! While supplies last.” [Facebook]
The Art League is Offering Online Classes — “Our online courses give people a chance to try something new at home, and allows students to touch base with their creative community during an isolating time.” [Zebra]
Jobs: The Salvation Army Needs Administrative Specialist — “Knowledge of general office practices and procedures, effective and efficient record-keeping and bookkeeping practices, knowledge of proofreading symbols and basic mathematics. Ability to transcribe dictation and type information into a computer. Ability to scan documents and work with same. Ability to operate various office equipment including a telephone, Dictaphone, computer, scanner and adding machine.” [Indeed]
Fire Department Celebrates Resilience Week — “Building resilience helps our community recover from difficult experiences, like the current health crisis. As part of #ResilienceWeek VA (May 3-9), DCHS is sharing daily ideas & resources to help in our personal lives, families, work lives & community.” [Twitter]
T.C. Senior Wins $40K Scholarship — “What does it feel like to get a SURPRISE ZOOM CALL from U.S. Senator Mark Warner, Lisa Collis, and daughters Gillian, Eliza & Madison…telling you that you are the first recipient of the Collis Warner Family Scholarship worth $40,000? Just ask T.C. Williams High School Senior Foziya Mohammed! Mohammed received the call this afternoon…’I am shocked and excited! I was nervous I thought this was a call about some kind of problem with my scholarship application. I’m not nervous anymore! Thank you so much. I would tell all of the younger students at T.C. that hard work pays off!'” [Facebook]
Police Respond to Domestic Violence Service Call — “The Alexandria Police Department is investigating a weapon violation in the 1400 block of South Highview Lane. A helicopter is assisting and expect police activity in the area.” [Twitter]
Local Reporter Gets Coronavirus Test — “To my surprise, the ER wasn’t crowded and I got in fast. With the social scene dead, the emergency room would be the most interesting thing I’d do that week. I kind of like the ER. You’re waited on, there’s a lot of hustle and bustle, and you generally feel you’re safe. Although this time was slightly different. The nurse wore a hazmat suit.” [Zebra]
Hops N Shine Hosting Virtual Beer Tasting Tonight — “This will be a Zoom meeting broadcast onto Facebook live for all to see. We welcome you to join us on Zoom to chat about how things are going for breweries, cideries, and restaurants around town, or if you just want to watch you can check it out on Facebook.” [Facebook]
T.C. Seniors Make Fox 5 DC Appearance — “T.C. Williams High School seniors TJ Horton & Amiya Chisolm on Fox 5 DC with Principal Balas this morning talking about the Titan #Classof2020 documentary we’re making. Don’t miss out – record your stories this Friday, May 1!” [Facebook]
New Job Posting: Virtual Insurance Agent — “The Financial Crisis Prevention Center is seeking highly motivated Benefits Analysts to meet with federal employees about their retirement benefits, supplemental insurance, annuities, and fringe benefit discount programs. Hiring immediately part-time and full-time sales representatives. Licensed and unlicensed positions available.” [Indeed]
Carpenter’s Shelter Gets Face Mask Donation — “Thanks to Elegance By Roya Bridal – Alexandria for these beautiful masks made by their atelier and donated to the shelter for the protection of our residents. We are appreciative of your, and all of our donor support for needed items such as masks, Clorox cleaning wipes, and sanitizer.” [Facebook]
Oakville Triangle Plan Comment Deadline is Today — “As a reminder, the online feedback portal for the applicant’s second online engagement posted on April 16 will remain open through tomorrow, April 30. Please take a few minutes to view the second presentation and provide comments.” [City of Alexandria]
Del Ray Cakery Makes Flower-like Cookie Bouquets — “Mother’s Day bouquets! 3 choices DM if interested. $15 each.” [Facebook]
There’s a 500-Piece Lee Fendall House Museum Jigsaw Puzzle — “Feeling PUZZLED about how to spend your time? How about a springtime image of Lee-Fendall House? These 500-piece puzzles are $18, and all proceeds support our preservation and education work. Message us on Facebook, email [email protected]
Old Town Book Club Goes Online This Saturday — “In this captivating story of crisis and survival, Emily St. John Mandel takes readers through often hidden landscapes: campgrounds for the near-homeless, underground electronica clubs, the business of international shipping, service in luxury hotels, and life in a federal prison. Rife with unexpected beauty, The Glass Hotel is a captivating portrait of greed and guilt, love and delusion, ghosts and unintended consequences, and the infinite ways we search for meaning in our lives.” [Old Town Books]
Alexandrian Creates Haiku Contest for Sister’s 70th Birthday — “Poring over the poems was the closest they were going to get to a family reunion. They picked their three favorites and sent the entire batch to the family to enjoy.” [Washington Post]
City Hotlines Available to Stem Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault — “During a crisis like COVID-19, the risk for intimate partner and domestic violence increases. The City of Alexandria Sexual Assault Center and the Domestic Violence Program want survivors and victims to know they are not alone. Both programs are open during the COVID-19 health crisis, hotlines are available 24/7 and advocates are ready to listen and help.” [Facebook]
Gov. Northam Extends Executive Order by Two Weeks — “That means that gatherings of more than 10 people will remain banned, and entertainment and recreation and personal care businesses will remain closed, until at least May 8. In addition, restaurants are limited to carry-out or delivery orders only.” [Alexandria Living]
West End Business Association Hosting Online Happy Hour at 4 p.m. — “Each person will be able to give their one-minute introduction and should also answer two questions: 1) What do you have to offer that might help other businesses through these times? 2) As your own bartender, what cocktail (or mocktail) are you drinking?” [WEBA]
Alexandria Hospital Staff Working Out to Stay Healthy — “Dr. West leads a team of Inova Health System nurses in some quick exercises you can do throughout the day. Try 10 of each and increase as you can.” [Facebook]
Alexandria Library Offers Temporary Access to Rosetta Stone — “The award-winning interactive approach has been used by millions of learners around the world and now is accessible in the library–or anywhere, anytime. This vital resource includes 30 languages to meet a range of cultural interests. Learning is structured around core lessons to build reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills and also includes focused activities to refine grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, and more.” [Zebra]
Restaurant Teams With Carpenter’s Shelter to Give 60 Families Meals — “We are committed to raising $600 weekly to provide meals for 60 local families every week over the next three months, at cost to us. This initiative helps us keep the lights on and provides badly needed hours for our employees! Donate today and become part of the solution!” [Facebook]
Alexandria Author Publishes Children’s Book — “Alexandria author J.R. Becker has a new children’s book coming out in June, called “This World Was Made for Me!” that deals with the environmental issues in an informative but whimsical way.” [Alexandria Living]
Office Assistant/Bookkeeper Job Available — “Join a small, stable IT consulting business where you can apply and expand your accounting, finance, and business operations skills. We are looking for a capable, proactive, detail-oriented person with a can-do attitude to support the day-to-day operations of our business. Excellent opportunity for growth as your capabilities develop.” [Indeed]
Carpenter’s Shelter opened a 40-person temporary safety shelter at the Charles Houston Recreation Center on Monday, and up to 40 chronically homeless people will be sleeping on mats on the basketball court.
The Carpenter’s Shelter David’s Place/winter shelter is now closed for the season and does not provide the same space for distancing as Charles Houston (901 Wythe Street).
The city’s DASH bus system transported 40 people to Charles Houston on Monday. Eight families have also been relocated to hotels in the city, and Carpenter’s Shelter plans on renting out the hotel rooms and using the recreation center for a month.
“They were too crowded in that amount of space, and that’s what prompted the discussion and exploring other alternatives in the community,” Carpenter’s Shelter Executive Director Shannon Steene told ALXnow. “This has been quite a coordinated response with various partners across the city as this whole pandemic has unfolded.”
If the recreation center and hotel rooms are still needed after a month, an extension will be considered, Steene said.
“We might have to make a reassessment,” he said. “The base goal amid all of this is making sure that people are safe.”
Steene said that the organization, which is working without volunteers for the first time, needs up to 50 homemade face masks, sanitary wipes and hand sanitizer for his staff and residents.
“We do need masks. We got a shipment in of homemade masks, and they went very quickly to our residents,” Steene said. “We’ve ordered commercial ones, and as with everyone they’re on backorder, so we’re just holding our own at this point trying to keep safe and covered with cloth as best as possible.”
Those interested in donating to Carpenter’s Shelter should contact Volunteer Coordinator Jamila Smith at 703-548-7500, or at [email protected]
After several years of stops and starts, the redevelopment of Landmark Mall is as uncertain as ever.
City Councilman Canek Aguirre informed the Cameron Station Civic Association on March 7, 2020, that Howard Hughes no longer has any interest in the redevelopment project at Landmark.
The Howard Hughes Corporation, recently sent a message to Alexandria Living Magazine that it has no update on mall redevelopment.
“Sorry, no update for now, but we’ll let you know when we have a good update,” the representative wrote.
Howard Hughes’ plan on making the 51-acre site a mixed-use town center was approved by council back in 2013. Council then approved updates to the city’s master plan last year.
Mayor Justin Wilson recently wrote in his monthly newsletter that “there have been discussions between the City and Howard Hughes about potential public/private partnerships that will help spur the redevelopment, but as Howard Hughes continues with a restructuring, it remains to be seen who will ultimately bring Landmark through redevelopment.”
Landmark Mall is closed except for Carpenter’s Shelter , the Sears department store and two auto service centers, although Carpenter’s Shelter will be leaving its home at the Macy’s Department store sometime between July 1 and July 15. The mall has seen very little action since the vacant interior shell was used as a set for Wonder Woman 1984.
Wilson remains optimistic.
“Howard Hughes has not announced their intention for the Landmark site, but they have announced that they are reviewing all of their properties,” Wilson told ALXnow. “We are awaiting the conclusion of that process.”
The city released the following video in Nov. 2018:
ALXnow did not receive comments from Howard Hughes or Seritage Growth Properties, which owns the Sears department store.
Staff photo by Jay Westcott
Carpenter’s Shelter is working through the COVID-19 pandemic without its cadre of volunteers, and people are now staying at Alexandria’s largest homeless shelter for longer periods of time, according to the organization’s executive director.
“The days have been long and the challenge is great, but the best perspective on all of this is that our work and our mission has never felt more critical than it does right now,” Carpenter’s Shelter Executive Director Shannon Steene told ALXnow. “We are seeing more people in the shelter for longer periods of time, and all in the context of asking our volunteers not to be volunteering at the shelter for the health and safety of our residents.”
The pandemic has forced Carpenter’s Shelter — located at the vacated Macy’s department store at Landmark Mall — to ask its 1,200 volunteers to stay home, and Steene’s staff of 25 employees are going outside their job descriptions to make sure that the organization’s 60-bed emergency shelter remains operational and that the virus does not make its way in. Carpenter’s Shelter is also still operating its hypothermia shelter.
Steene said that Carpenter’s Shelter needs grocery store gift cards for individuals and families and hand sanitizer. He also said that residents and staff are taking daily temperature checks.
“We have deputized staff and residents as wipe down warriors, so there’s a lot of wiping of any touched surfaces going on,” he said. “
Usually there are upward of 20 volunteers working at Carpenter’s Shelter every day –out of 1200 volunteers — and Steene said this is the first time in the organization’s history that volunteers have not helped weather a crisis.
“We have had winter storms where five staff members have stayed in the building for 52 hours at one stretch just making sure that everything is safe and suitable for the residents, but this is the first time in our organizational life that we haven’t had volunteers in the shelter,” he said. “And I’ve got to say that our volunteers are embedded in our culture and the energy. We look forward to when all of this is under our control and seeing those volunteers come back into our work. They’re the lifeblood of what we do.”