Alexandria’s Latino population has been heavily impacted by COVID-19, and an annual 5K to support them is going virtual.
From October 8-26, nonprofit Casa Chirilagua will conduct its virtual 5k run and walk to help support students and families impacted by COVID-19, virtual schooling and unemployment.
Participants will need to download the atlasGO app to track progress and win prizes.
Registration costs $25 and participants are asked to go outside to run or walk.
“We can not track your activity indoors,” notes the website for the 5k. “It is difficult to catch the right satellite signal indoors. For the optimal accuracy please add your activity manually if you are running on a treadmill or if you are walking in a building.”
NOT CANCELLED! While we won't be together today in person for our annual 5K, we can still be together virtually with the…
Challenge: Can you complete the Casa Virtual 5K while pushing a double stroller with kids? Our Executive Director,…
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ALIVE! Free Food Distribution on Saturday — “ALIVE! Truck-to-Trunk will distribute food at two drive-through sites on Saturday, September 12 from 8:30 am – 10:30 am at the parking lots of Cora Kelly (3600 Commonwealth Ave) and John Adams (5651 Rayburn Ave) Elementary Schools. This distribution includes bags of shelf stable groceries, fresh produce, and eggs, while supplies last. People are encouraged to drive through. Walks-ups should maintain 6 feet social distance, wear a face mask, and bring carts or reusable bags to carry food home. “[Facebook]
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While new COVID-19 cases are on the decline, local organizations are still working to ensure that residents have access to resources as Alexandria slowly reopens. Here are the next free food distributions in the city today and through the weekend.
There will be a free food distribution at Casa Chirilagua (4109 Mount Vernon Avenue) today (Thursday) from 5 to 7 p.m. People are asked to wear face masks and to bring carts to take food home.
Additionally, every evening Christ House (131 S. West Street) provides a free hot meal from 4:30 to 6 p.m.
On Friday, there will be food distributions at:
- Old Town Community Church (212 S. Washington Street) at noon.
- Bennington Crossings Apartment Homes (441 N. Armistead Street) from 5:30 to 7 p.m.
- Meade Memorial Episcopal Church (322 N. Alfred Street) from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
- Washington Street United Methodist Church (109 S Washington St) from 6 to 8 a.m.
Meals and bags of shelf stable groceries.TODAY 5 pm – 6 pm at Casa Chirilagua (4109 Mt Vernon Ave).In cooperation…
ALIVE! is also helping Alexandria City Public Schools with its food distribution, and food is available during the week at the following locations on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
- William Ramsay Elementary School, 5700 Sanger Avenue, from 9 a.m. to noon
- Francis C. Hammond Middle School, 4646 Seminary Road, from 9 a.m. to noon
- Cora Kelly School for Math, Science and Technology, 3600 Commonwealth Avenue, from 9 a.m. to noon
- Jefferson-Houston PreK-8 IB School, 1501 Cameron Street, from 9 a.m. to noon
- T.C. Williams High School, 3330 King Street, from 9 a.m. to noon
- Mason Apartments at South Reynolds Street, from 10:45 to 11:15 a.m.
- Brent Place Apartments at 375 South Reynolds Street, from 11:20 to 11:50 a.m.
- Ruby Tucker Family Center at 322 Tancil Court, from 10:45 to 11:15 a.m.
- Community Lodgings at 607 Notabene Drive, from 10:45 to 11:15 a.m.
- Old Towne West Apartments (parking lot) at 500 South Alfred Street, from 11:20 to 11:50 a.m.
- Corner of Florence Drive and Four Mile Road, from 10:45 to 11:15 a.m.
- The Fields of Alexandria at 4309 Duke Street, from 10:45 to 11:15 a.m.
- Bennington Crossing Apartment Homes at 441 North Armistead Street, from 11:30 a.m. to noon
Staff photo by James Cullum
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Casa Chirilagua Hosting Fundraiser Sunday — “Casa Chirilagua is a local community nonprofit serving the Central American Latinx community in City of Alexandria zip code 22305 – a hot spot for COVID-19. Because of the health and economic conditions, demand for Casa Chirilagua’s services has become enormous.” [Facebook]
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A new free Friday food distribution at Casa Chirilagua in Arlandria has been set to help the community through most of the summer.
More than 1,000 boxes of fresh food from the Baltimore, Maryland-based Church of the Apostles in the City was given to residents, who lined up through the trails and around the football field at Four Mile Run Park.
“This is the first Friday that we’re doing this mass food distribution and it will continue for the next seven Fridays,” Casa Chirilagua Executive Director Adriana Gómez Schellhaas told ALXnow.
Arlandria has some of the highest numbers of COVID-19, and is home to some of the city’s poorest residents.
Jay Baylor is the pastor at Church of the Apostles, and said that the church will deliver a truckload of food every week.
“When COVID hit, we upped our game and started delivering more food in our neighborhood in East Baltimore,” Baylor said. “Last week we brought 15 pallets down here to Casa Chirilagua and 10 pallets to Old Town Community Church.”
Arlandria resident Sophia Reyes had trouble carrying the 40 pounds of food home. Reyes, who lives with her daughter and granddaughter, said that the family has been dependent on weekly food distributions in the community.
“[My daughter] can’t work and it is very important for us to get this food,” Reyes said.
ALIVE! will also hold its next monthly food distribution on Saturday morning.
The “truck-to-trunk” food distribution will be held at ALIVE! from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. in the parking lots of Cora Kelly School and John Adams Elementary School. People who walk to the site are asked to observe social distancing.
Staff photos by James Cullum
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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]
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“At AT&T, we want to be there when our communities need us,” said Garrett McGuire, the AT&T regional director of external and legislative affairs, in a statement. “Chirilagua has faced many challenges during this pandemic, so we wanted to do what we could to help.”
Last Saturday, Neighborhood Health provided hundreds of free coronavirus tests outside Casa Chirilagua, and the nonprofit’s executive director said that the $5,000 donation came at a pivotal time.
“With this contribution, we were able to set up and administer testing and consultations at the Casa Chirilagua site,”Dr. Basim Khan said. “With this contribution, we were able to set up and administer testing and consultations at the Casa Chirilagua site. This additional testing is helping us identify and bring into care individuals who otherwise would have gone untested and unconnected to the care they need.”
Arlandria is also known as Chirilagua, after a municipality in El Salvador of the same name. The community, which is in the 22305 ZIP code, is heavily Hispanic and has 463 reported cases and an estimated population of 16,095. Hispanic residents make up 17% of the population and are leading with the highest number of cases in the city, with 783 reported cases, six deaths and 75 hospitalizations.
The actual number of cases in the community is unclear, since many residents live in packed housing and do not have health insurance and access to transportation.
Casa Chirilagua will use its $5,000 contribution to expand its outreach in Arlandria.
“AT&T’s response to the needs in the community brings a message of hope to those who have been terribly impacted by this crisis and ensures families have what they need to withstand this pandemic,” Casa Chirilagua Executive Director Adriana Gómez Schellhaas said. “Together, we can get through this, and we are extremely grateful for AT&T’s support of the community and for leading the way to a better future!”
Staff photo by James Cullum
Volunteer Alexandria Executive Director Marion Brunken told ALXnow that there will be a new community food distribution next Thursday at Charles Houston Recreation Center. The food is being provided by Washington Street United Methodist Church, the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority and Royal Restaurant from 4 to 6 p.m.
Volunteers can sign up for the distribution here.
“If they decide this works and is a good need, they will do it bi-weekly,” Brunken told ALXnow.
In Arlandria, the food was provided by Taco Bamba in D.C., and community volunteers gave it out over the course of an hour. The meals were made of chicken, vegetables and rice. The residents also received bags of groceries from ALIVE!
Next week’s World Central Kitchen food distribution will be at William Ramsay Elementary School after 5 p.m.
Staff photos by James Cullum
The following Letter to the Editor was written by Adriana Gomez Schellhaas, executive director of Casa Chirilagua, a Christian nonprofit in the Chirilagua/Arlandria neighborhood that provides help for local low-income families.
“When will we go back to normal?”
Like me, I’m sure you’ve asked yourself this question since this crisis started.
What was normal to you, pre-pandemic? For me, normal was spending time with friends and happily not social distancing, going to work without having to wear a mask and being able to work for eight+ hours a day because my toddler twins were spending the day with our lovely babysitter.
Before COVID-19, normal for many of our neighbors in Chirilagua was spending any free time working a second or third job to ensure bills were paid and food was on the table. Normal for many others was an accustomed reality of food insecurity, joblessness, and lack of medical care. The normalcy of the economic disparities that exist in this vibrant community where we, Casa Chirilagua, have spent the last 13 years building long-term relationships with neighbors has caused it to be one of the hardest hit areas of COVID-19 in Northern Virginia.
Since COVID-19, normal has turned upside down for Casa Chirilagua and our neighborhood. The squeals and excitement of our Kids Club students during the afternoons have been replaced by a donation pantry bursting at the seams with vital food and essential items for Casa families, thanks to the outpour of generosity from city residents and folks all the way from Rockville, Maryland.
Our parking lot is not filled with cars of dedicated volunteers coming to spend time to read and tutor students, but has been turned into a COVID-19 testing site thanks to our wonderful partnership with Neighborhood Health.
Our regular fundraising pattern for this time of year isn’t the normal lull we experience after Spring2ACTion but has changed drastically as we continue to see donation after donation from kind individuals, church partners, and organizations like the Del Ray Business Association and Hume Springs Civic Association, all wanting to support the mission of Casa Chirilagua and make sure Casa families have the necessary resources to survive this pandemic.
This is not normal. But what if it was?
What if this outpouring of generosity lasted all year round, year after year, ensuring that our most vulnerable neighbors in Arlandria have what they need? What if vital health screenings were readily available week after week to neighbors who could not afford them or do not have access to a doctor?
What would it look like to truly love our neighbor as ourselves?
This crisis has caused the “normal” negative issues which plague our community to rear their ugly heads even more. However, it has also resulted in generosity, camaraderie and empathy to shine ever so brightly. Business owner Jason Yates sent us a donation of 100 handmade masks. Sheriff Lawhorne and his deputies did not hesitate for one second when I asked for their assistance in directing traffic during our donation hours. City residents like Marcia Call organized her own donation drive, delivering to us the biggest haul of donations we have seen to date.
There are countless others, like Rosa Landeros, the parent liaison at Mount Vernon Community School, who said to me, “Anything this community needs, please call me.”
The ways that many in our city have loved our neighbors in Chirilagua during this crisis is emotionally overwhelming for me in a beautiful way. When this is over, my prayer is that these gestures of love and kindness will not cease but increase, making it the new normal for us and our city.
ALXnow.com occasionally publishes thoughtful letters to the editor about issues of local interest. To submit a letter to the editor for consideration, please email it to [email protected] Letters may be edited for content and brevity, at our discretion.
Staff photo by James Cullum
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The city’s Hispanic population is largely located in Arlandria and leads with positive cases at 533 and four reported deaths.
“Our Latino community members are suffering disproportionately with COVID-19,” Casa Chirilagua said in an email. “Casa Chirilagua in Del Ray is a hub of support for the community. Their needs are great, but not anything we can’t address with concerted action.”
Donors are being asked to drop off donated items at 2610 Terrett Avenue and at Casa Chirilagua at 4109 Mount Vernon Avenue in Del Ray by this Thursday at noon.
The Christian nonprofit located in Arlandria works with more than 120 families living below the poverty line, and so far the nonprofit has also paid more than $25,000 in rent and utilities for families impacted by COVID-19. At this time, the 22305 ZIP code, which includes the Arlandria, Potomac Yard and Potomac West neighborhoods, had the largest number of reported cases at 360, with an estimated population of 16,095 residents.
Additionally, last Friday, local groups demanded that Virginia Governor Ralph Northam authorize supplying 10,000 testing kits to the Arlandria area, and provide housing for poor COVID-positive patients living in jam-packed housing. It is not clear how many people have recovered from the virus, and an accurate count on the number of cases is difficult to maintain in Alexandria since the highest infection rates are in the city’s poorest areas.
Casa Chirilagua also conducts a donation drive from 1-4 p.m. on Thursdays and a weekly food distribution every Thursday at 5 p.m.
Here is a list of what they are looking for:
The most commonly needed household items for families in the community are the following:
- Laundry Detergent
- Body Soap
- Dish Soap
- Cleaning Supplies such as Windex and All-Purpose Spray Cleaners
- Dental Floss
- Toilet Paper
- Paper Towels
The following food items are much needed in the community:
- Uncooked beans (black/pinto)
- Instant coffee
- Oil (canola, olive)
- Uncooked pasta
- Canned tuna/chicken
- Canned beans (black/pinto)
- Canned tomato sauce
- Canned soups
- Baby food
- Granola bars
- Maseca (corn flour)
- Packaged flour tortillas
- Packaged corn tortillas
- Baby formula
- Apple Sauce
Staff photo by James Cullum