Newsletter

ACT for Alexandria’s ACT Now COVID-19 Response Fund has now raised more than $1 million, and $910,000 has been given in grant funding to other city nonprofits.

ACT for Alexandria Executive Director Heather Peeler says that even though COVID-19 numbers are going down, the community needs are still great. The nonprofit has paused its grant request process for the month of June while it maps out its fundraising strategy for the rest of the year.

“The needs of community members are still substantial,” Peeler said. “All of our community partners are getting calls from constituents who need assistance. The health and economic impacts of the pandemic are still with us, even though I think everybody’s really geared up to get back to work. There are still many community members who are disproportionately affected and we need to continue to support them as they navigate this crisis.”

Peeler and her staff of four employees and two interns also organized and managed the Spring2ACTion fundraiser on April 15, which broke the city’s one-day giving record by raising $2.45 million for Alexandria nonprofits.

Now ACT for Alexandria is crafting a racial equity statement to guide its future priorities, and Peeler and her staff are organizing racial equity workshops. Peeler said that there is currently a waiting list of 100 people who want to attend in June and July.

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Morning Notes

Beyer Lauds Supreme Court LGBT Decision — “This is such a big step forward. Employers shouldn’t be able to fire people because of who they are or who they love. After a long and difficult struggle by activists and civil rights organization, an historic decision and a great moment for the country.” [Twitter]

Former Mayor Silberberg Marched in D.C. on Saturday — “All around me, there were poignant reminders of all that had transpired in this location in recent days and weeks — handmade signs attached to the remaining fence and bouquets of flowers. And then that evening, there was breaking news about another tragedy, this time in Atlanta. Heartbreaking.” [Facebook]

Twig Junior Auxiliary Donates $100K to Inova Alexandria Hospital — “The Twig Junior Auxiliary of Inova Alexandria Hospital presented a check for $100,000 to Dr. Rina Bansal for the Inova COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness Fund during a May 22 ceremony held outside the hospital’s entrance.” [Gazette]

Feed The Fight ALX Gives Out 5K Meals to Health Care Workers — “Thank you for your continued support, and please continue to follow us in the coming months on Instagram @FeedtheFightALX. We are so grateful to all of our hospital teams and restaurant partners.” [Facebook]

City Recycles 700 Tons of Glass in First Year of Recycling Program — “The City just hit the 1-year mark for the glass recycling program. In that time, 700 tons of glass (1,410,560 lbs) has been recycled through the purple can glass drop-off program. You crushed it Alexandria!” [Facebook]

‘Mind The Mat’ Owner Gets Creative During Pandemic — “I was trying to be this super-serious fitness instructor on camera, and it was not working.” [Washington Post]

Recreation Centers Opening With Modified Schedule June 20 — “These changes are in place to follow the second phase of reopening. Senior-only hours will be introduced to help protect vulnerable persons on the community while providing an opportunity for exercise.” [Zebra]

Scholarship Fund Honoring Awardees With Individualized Social Media Posts — “We’ll be profiling a student each day this week…as they share their joy and gratitude with the Alexandria Community!” [Facebook]

Center for Alexandria’s Children Receives Face Mask Donation — “We received another donation of 100 adult masks and 100 children’s masks for our Learn & PlayGroup families! We are so grateful to Brooksie & Cas and Jenna Adams for investing so much time and energy into making so many great masks.” [Facebook]

Deal: Rent a Pedego Electric Bike, Get Second Rental Half Off — “Pedego Electric Bikes has the perfect solution for cabin fever. Rent one bike and get the second rental 50% off. Enjoy the outdoors, flowers and sunshine with the safest bikes and equipment from Pedego. This offer will be available until further notice.” [Visit Alexandria]

New Job: HR/Office Manager — “Small but busy security company in need of an experienced HR professional who can really multitask. Candidate should be comfortable screening, interviewing and on-boarding applicants.” [Indeed]

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As Alexandria enters into the second phase of reopening its economy, ALIVE! is expanding its free food distributions for families in need. The nonprofit has given out hundreds of thousands of pounds of food during the pandemic.

“This is not over, people are still food insecure,” ALIVE! Executive Director Jennifer Ayers told ALXnow. “The food insecurity is real. People are still without jobs. We gave out 110,000 pounds of food in April and 127,000 pounds of food in May. Our normal monthly average is about 30,000 pounds, so we are giving away a lot of food.”

The nonprofit, which needs donations and volunteers, is currently planning another mass distribution of food for the later part of June at Cora Kelly School and John Adams Elementary School.

In the meantime, here are the following distributions this week:

Thursday, June 11 Food Distribution

4-5:30 p.m. Food Distribution in the Charles Houston Recreation Center parking lot

ALIVE!, in coordination with Washington Street United Methodist Church, Royal Restaurant, ARHA, and the City of Alexandria, will distribute bags of shelf-stable groceries and boxes of produce until supplies run out.

5-6 p.m. Food Distribution at Landmark Mall

ALIVE!, in partnership with World Central Kitchen and Hunger Free Alexandria, will distribute bags of shelf-stable groceries until supplies run out at Landmark Mall. People are encouraged to drive through. People who walk to the site should bring bags/carts to carry food away. Everyone is asked to observe social distancing and safety guidelines.

ALIVE! is also helping Alexandria City Public Schools with its food distribution, and food is available during the week at the following locations:

  • 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

Photo via Alive!/Facebook

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Morning Notes

ACT for Alexandria Calls COVID-19 a Racial Issue, Sends $900K to Nonprofits — “To work towards a community where all Alexandrians have an equal chance of living prosperous, fulfilling lives, we must work together to address systemic racism. That is a tall order. But together we can make a difference. Your support of the ACT Now COVID-19 Response Fund is an important step. That support allows our community to better respond to the needs of our neighbors facing overwhelming challenges.” [ACT for Alexandria]

Beyer Finds Fault in Indicted Fairfax County Police Officer — “This officer’s actions were unjustified, and he failed his oath to protect and serve. Body-worn camera footage clearly shows he escalated the situation with unnecessary violence against an unarmed black man.” [Twitter]

Police Disproportionately Use Force Against Black Alexandrians — ” Force is used against black males more than any other group, according to numbers compiled by the police department and acquired through a public-records request… In the most recent report, which covers 2019, 54 percent of the instances of use of force was against African Americans. That’s significantly higher than the black population in Alexandria, which is 23 percent.” [Gazette]

Alexandria Black History Museum Executive Director Makes Statement on George Floyd’s Death — “All keepers of African American heritage pledge to forever say George Floyd’s name, preserve the history he represents, and educate the public about the millions of brilliant minds lost to hate in America.” [Zebra]

Alfred Street Baptist Church Pastor Marchin in D.C. on Sunday with NAACP — “We want to personally invite ALL believers to join Pastor Wesley and the Alfred Street Baptist Church in Collaboration with the NAACP for a Prayer Walk for Peace and Justice on this Sunday, June 14 starting at 6am ET. We’re gathering at the NAAMHC and walking to the newly named Black Lives Plaza, NW in Washington, DC. Visit our website to register.” [Facebook]

Joe Theismann’s Restaurant Reopens — “The restaurant will be open for take-out and delivery via online ordering at Theismanns.com, delivery via select third-party apps, and walk-in patio dining. The restaurant will debut an adjusted menu for lunch and dinner, and will be open Sunday through Thursday from 12 to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 12 – 10 p.m.” [Theismann’s]

Hundreds Sign Petition to Rename T.C. Williams High School After Petey Jones — “Additionally, we believe the name should be changed to honor one of the men who participated in giving the school that reputation, and who worked as a longtime employee at T.C. Williams High School.  Petey Jones died in 2019 of prostate cancer.  We believe that T.C. Williams should be renamed after him.  Please sign this petition if you agree.” [Change.org]

New Job: Assistant Magazine Editor — ” Content creation and coordination for national trade association magazine, including reporting, writing, editing and contributing to monthly print edition (circulation 40,000) and weekly digital newsletters.”[Facebook]

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Morning Notes

Beyer Supports Justice In Policing Act — “George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and too many others should still be alive today, and the fact that they are not is a deep injustice that should outrage us all. We need reform now. I’m an original cosponsor of the #JusticeInPolicing Act, and look forward to helping pass it soon.” [Twitter]

Mayors and Chairs in Northern Virginia Decry Systemic Racism — “As the Mayors and Chairs of Northern Virginia, we raise our collective voices on behalf of the more than 2.5 million residents of our region to express our sorrow for the decades of injustices that have befallen the African American community in America.” [Gazette]

With Pools Closed, City Advises Against Swimming in Natural Waters — “As temperatures climb and many pools remain closed, a dip in a river, lake, or stream may be tempting, but risky, as shown by the recent drowning of a Loudoun County teen in a local creek. In addition to the potential for drowning, natural waterways may contain harmful bacteria and organisms, particularly after heavy rains or storms. Avoid swimming in natural waters for a few days after a heavy rain event; avoid swimming in muddy water of lakes, ponds and rivers; and avoid swimming in unfamiliar ponds, streams, creeks, ditches and canals.” [City of Alexandria]

City Provides Resources for Coping with Coronavirus and Social Change — “The City’s Coping with Uncertainty and Fear and Multicultural Resources: Race Based Trauma and Support in Times of Civil Strife web pages provide information and resources to help during this difficult time.” [City of Alexandria]

Former Police Chief Cook Opines on Race Relations — “We have not progressed to the point where we’ve changed our institutions. They are exactly at the place they were when I was a teenager.” [WJLA]

Trinity United Methodist Church Thanks Community for Donations — “On behalf of Trinity Church, we want to extend our gratitude to all of you who contribute to the Rising Hope Mission Church food drive!  We started this food drive shortly after COVID-19 hit to try to meet some of the growing needs for food and personal hygiene items for our friends at Rising Hope Mission Church, a mission that serves communities living in poverty south of Alexandria, along the Route 1 Corridor… As of last week, we have donated 2,869 lbs. of food and donated over $1,500 of community contributions! …We will continue this food drive each Wednesday from 4-7 PM through the end of the July.” [Trinity UMC]

Board of Zoning Appeals Denies Seminary Road Sign Appeal — The BZA voted 5-1 on Monday to order the removal of the “Take Back Seminary Road #JustinsTrafficJam” sign. [City of Alexandria]

New Job: Event and Promotions Assistant — “Local event firm is currently seeking an Event & Promotions Assistant to join a rapidly growing team! This firm identifies and develops new streams of revenue for clients through on-site promotions, innovative marketing strategies and advertising campaigns with a personal touch. This is an entry-level position with fully paid training and the opportunity for growth into an executive management role after completion of training program.”
[Indeed]

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The Scholarship Fund of Alexandria has set its deadline for renewal scholarships for July 15, and the nonprofit currently needs donations after its annual gala was canceled due to COVID-19.

“The economic impacts our families are going to continue to be felt in the coming days, weeks and months, but we feel like it’s really important to still be there for the kids,” Beth Lovain, executive director of the Scholarship Fund of Alexandria, told ALXnow. “They have hopes and dreams, and the proper education will make a difference in not only their futures, but for the futures of their families.”

Lovain anticipates awarding more than $500,000 in renewal scholarships, which are for students who previously received awards through the fund, and are now in college and need additional assistance.

“We need to make sure that we’re there for them so they can count on the money so that they can graduate in four years,” she said.

The fund awarded 181 scholarships for the class of 2020 totaling $507,000. In all, the fund has awarded $16 million in college scholarships to more than 4,750 students since 1986, and the annual gala raises upward of $400,000 every year. As the numbers of students at T.C. increase every year, the number of scholarships has also increased — especially since two-thirds of the students in Alexandria’s public high school are living at or below the poverty level.

Recipients made the following video talking about what it meant for them to get a scholarship.

Photo via ACPS/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Beyer to Introduce Legislation for Law Enforcement to Wear Identifying Badges — “We don’t do secret police in the United States of America. I will introduce House legislation in the next few days to require uniformed federal officers to identify themselves by wearing badges. Next step will be working for broad support in the House. More soon.” [Twitter]

Tenants and Workers United Gives Food and Supplies to 400 Families — “Today we gave food, needs, and diapers to almost 400 families!! This was possible by Arlington Calvary United Methodist Church. Our community greatly appreciates this support during these difficult times!” [Facebook]

Alexandria Back to Business Grant Application Deadline at 5 p.m. — “Applications for the ALX B2B Grant are open (as of Thursday, June 4th at 8:00AM EDT), and will close Monday, June 8th at 5:00 PM (EDT).” [AEDP]

Del. Herring Thanks Inova Alexandria Hospital Workers — “Thank you @InovaHealth Alexandria for this display of unity & caring for our community. #WhiteCoatsforBlackLives” [Twitter]

Vice Mayor Sends Message of Solidarity With Black Leaders — “I have a responsibility to use my platform to speak up about these issues. The best way to do that is to amplify the voices of black leaders in our community. If you haven’t already done so, please listen to and read their words. And then take action.” [Elizabeth Bennett-Parker]

ACPS Announces Collection and Return of School Materials — “The school closures related to COVID-19 and the Governor’s stay-at-home order have forced us to make a new plan of how we collect students’ school materials and also allow our students to get personal belongings from their lockers or classrooms.” [ACPS]

Alexandrian Named National Eagle Scout Runner-Up — “Noah Ventura, an Alexandria resident and rising senior at Gonzaga College High School, has been named the American Legion’s Eagle Scout of the Year Runner-Up for 2020. As a recipient of the award, he is receiving a $2,500 college scholarship.” [Zebra]

Local Filmmakers Selected for Alexandria Symphony Series — “The films will accompany music by American composers performed “live to picture” by the orchestra as part of ASO’s 2020-2021 season on November 7 and 8, 2020. The works will also be screened as part of the Alexandria Film Festival on November 12-15.” [Zebra]

Reminder: Here’s a List of ACPS Free Food Distributions — “ACPS has multiple distribution meal site locations throughout Alexandria for all ACPS students and children over the age of two.” [ACPS]

New Job: Contact Tracer — “The Contact Tracer is an entry level public health professional responsible for identifying and contacting individuals who may have come in contact with persons recently diagnosed with an infectious disease associated with an outbreak or pandemic.” [Indeed]

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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

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Local dry-cleaning shop Yates Dry Cleaning has donated hundreds of masks during the pandemic and added another 150 to their total in a donation to at-need children in Alexandria.

According to a press release from Yates, the company donated 150 face masks designed to limit the spread of coronavirus to PK Move, a local parkour company putting together boxes promoting physical activity during the pandemic.

“The masks will be included in 150 ‘PK Move in a box’ kits that will be distributed to at-need children in the Alexandria City School System,” the press release said. “[the boxes] feature creative ways to be active while social distancing.”

The donation was overseen by Mayor Justin Wilson.

“We are so lucky in this community to have a very generous business community,” Wilson said, “particularly during this time right now when our community is in such need.”

Yates Dry Cleaning has donated over 1,000 face masks to non-profits but also sells the masks for $15 with the full cost being donated to an employee relief fund.

Photos courtesy Yates Dry Cleaning

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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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