Newsletter

There are still a number of available volunteer opportunities in Alexandria this summer.

“We need hundreds of people per week,” Volunteer Alexandria Executive Director Marion Brunken told ALXnow. “More people are in need now than ever.”

Here’s Volunteer Alexandria’s list of new and upcoming opportunities.

  • Help Provide Meals to Children — “Alexandria City Public School (ACPS) will provide two days worth of breakfast and lunch meals with a snack pack free for any enrolled ACPS student on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Friday distribution will include a meal(s) for Saturday. Volunteers will meet at various schools to assist with packing boxes and loading buses with boxed meals. Then, volunteers will ride the bus along to distribute the meals while on site at a few ACPS mobile pop-up locations. Click on each location to sign up: Francis C. Hammond Middle School, Alexandria City High School, or Jefferson Houston School.”
  • Alexandria Dept. of Community and Human Services Volunteer Guardian — “Looking for individuals who can assure the well-being of an
    incapacitated Alexandrian living in an Assisted Living Facility or Nursing Facility. Volunteer Guardians are appointed by the Court to make decisions for older Alexandria residents who have lost the capacity to understand the consequences of their decisions. The volunteer will visit the resident monthly and follow the person’s wishes as much as possible. To express interest, click HERE.”
  • Alexandria Families for Safer Streets Executive Assistant to Board of Directors — “The agency is seeking an executive assistant to help coordinate a diverse group of tasks necessary to keep us on track and moving forward. Someone with office manager skills would be the ideal candidate. To learn more click HERE.
  • ALIVE! — “Volunteers are needed to assist with multiple programs relating to their Food Program, ALIVE! House, and Alexandria Eviction Prevention Partnership Program will distribute food at Mobile Pop-ups and Truck to Trunk events, etc. Click HERE to learn about each opportunity and to register.”
  • ALX Fit Fair Volunteer — Join in the ALX Fit Fair, a fun day in the park connecting the community of health and wellness businesses with fitness brands in mini-workouts and tasty samples! The event will begin at 10am and go until 2pm, but volunteers will be needed to set up an hour earlier and break down for up to 3pm. Energetic, health- focused individuals 16+ years of age who have a passion for fitness and the outdoors are needed to assist with registration, traffic control, directing people, and assigning raffle tickets. Click HERE for more information.”
  • FACETS – Front Desk Volunteer at Alexandria Location — “Volunteers are needed to work at the front desk. Tasks include assisting clients, answering phone calls, receiving donations, data entry/filing, and maintaining the front desk and lobby of the office. Register HERE.”
  • Teacher positions at Friends of Guest House — “Friends of Guest House – Various Teacher Positions Dedicated volunteers needed to teach various subjects and skills classes to women. The ideal volunteer will be patient and interested in the success of these women as they further their knowledge. Volunteers are also needed to assist with vaccination pods and instruct substance abuse, addiction, and recovery classes. To register and learn more click HERE.”
  • Friendship Firehouse Street Festival — “Volunteers needed between 8 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. on August 7 to assist with set up, visitor counts, greet, monitor tables and interact with guests. Ages 16 and above welcome, (skills needed: perseverance and a smile) fun for the whole family. To register, click HERE.
  • On-Call Event Photographer — “Use your photography skills to help document the incredible work of our volunteers. Flexible schedule. Perfect for a student looking to build their portfolio or an experienced photographer looking for a service opportunity. Must provide digital photographs (and all rights to photographs) to @VolunteerAlex for use in digital and print promotions. Person must provide their own camera equipment and transportation. To express interest, click HERE.”
  • ALIVE! — “Volunteers are needed to assist with multiple programs relating to their Food Program, ALIVE! House, and Alexandria Eviction Prevention Partnership Program will distribute food at Mobile Pop-ups and Truck to Trunk events, etc. Click HERE to learn about each opportunity and to register.”
  • The Alzheimer’s Association and the Walk to End Alzheimer’s -Saturday, September 25 (National Harbor) and Saturday, October 9, 2021, on the National Mall, Washington, DC. Volunteers are needed on the day of the events to help with set up, sign placement, information services, promise flower distribution, cheerleaders, and route monitors. To learn more and register, click HERE for September 25 and click HERE for October 9.
  • Create COVID-19 Care Packages with the Salvation Army — “We are collecting items for seniors and vulnerable populations. You can help by creating care packages from the security of your own home and safely dropping items at our locations. To express interest, click HERE.
  • Long Term Client Intake Case Workers — “Provide financial and logistical assistance to those in need of a Virginia state ID, needed to access housing, food assistance, jobs and more. While helping clients get IDs we also register them to vote and help others restore their voting rights. To register, click HERE.
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Morning Notes

Hotel expansions to increase meeting planning options in Alexandria — “Alexandria is continuing to expand its hotel offerings with an extensive multi-million dollar renovation of the Sheraton Suites Old Town Alexandria…The historic George Mason Hotel is set to undergo restoration in 2021 (and) will have two buildings located in Old Town, and will feature 141 hotel rooms, two restaurants, rooftop dining and outdoor dining. The Hilton Alexandria Mark Center will also begin a $10 million renovation starting in late November, with a target opening of the first week in January 2022.” [Previewmeetings.com]

ALIVE! resumes collecting food — “Community members are welcome to drop off purchased or collected food items at 801 S. Payne St. ALIVE! accepts donations on Thursdays from 3 to 7 p.m and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon.” [Zebra]

Neighborhood Restaurant Group honored for pandemic pivot — “Alexandria-based Neighborhood Restaurant Group has been nominated for a RAMMY Award, presented by the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW). Their nomination is in a new, coronavirus-influenced category: Most Impressive Pivot to Provisions or Market.” [Alexandria Living]

Locals theorize that bug bites could be tied to cicadas — “The Facebook group members have hatched a theory that these bites are tied to oak itch mites, or pyemotes, which are thought to feed on cicadas eggs. Similar outbreaks of itchy bug bites have coincided with periodic cicada cycles in Chicago and Northern Ohio.” [ARLnow]

Kids restore preschool playground and garden boxes —  “Thanks Trinity United Methodist Church youth group & @Volalex Breaks with Impact (BWI) youth group who restored the ALIVE! preschool playground and garden boxes. They’ve been busy weeding, pruning, and cleaning but still needs much more!” [Twitter]

Today’s weather — “Except for a few afternoon clouds, mainly sunny. High 89F. Winds NW at 10 to 15 mph… Generally fair (in the evening). Low 63F. Winds N at 10 to 15 mph.” [Weather.com]

New job: Anthropologie key holder — “At Anthropologie we tell stories – of products thoughtfully designed, crafted, and curated, and of a collaborative, inventive community. We are, above all, devoted to our customer – to the smart, creative individual who seeks beauty wherever they go.” [Indeed]

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Brandon Byrd can actually cook.

In recognition of Juneteenth, last month the owner of Goodies Frozen Custard & Treats in Old Town partnered with Rachel Tracey of D.C.-based Historic America tours for their first Soul Food Saturday. So far, meals have included shrimp and grits and Jamaican jerk chicken.

“Growing up and watching my mom and my grandmother cook brings a lot of the inspiration to the food,” Byrd said. “It’s what I grew up with.”

In Tracey’s ‘Lunch & Learn’ food tour series, she guides groups to historic sites in a multi-sensory walking tour. Customers use interactive tablets as they stop by Market Square, Christ Church, the Carlyle House, Alfred Street Baptist Church and Freedom House. They smell tobacco — one of Alexandria’s cash crops of the 17th and 18th centuries — and then wrap up the experience with a home-cooked soul food lunch at Goodies, usually followed by frozen custard.

“It’s important for us to tell a full and inclusive narrative,” Tracey said. “We talk about the Trans-Atlantic Migration, where people were brought over to Colonial America. There’s also the trans-Atlantic food migration. There are foods that we can directly trace back to Africa, and so we share those connections on the tour.”

One of Tracey’s favorite stories is about Hercules Posey, the personal chef to George Washington. While walking along the grounds of Christ Church, Tracey will talk about Posey’s escape from slavery, and well as Washington’s recovery attempts before being granted freedom after the founding president’s death in 1799.

“Washington loved his cooking and took Hercules with him when he was operating the government out of Philadelphia,” Tracey said. “There was a rule in Philadelphia at that time that if any slaves were in the city for six months to the day that they were automatically set free. So, Washington would make sure that (his slaves)… would go home to Mount Vernon for a bit before they hit that six month mark and come back.”

Tickets for the experience cost $95 per person, and Byrd isn’t yet sure what’s on the menu for the next meal, which will be on Saturday, August 21.

“I haven’t exactly figured it out yet,” Byrd said. “I’m thinking about something with black-eyed peas and fried okra for next month.”

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After years of legal wrangling and pandemic pressures, the controversial halal slaughterhouse at 3225 Colvin Street quietly opened on Wednesday, July 28. There is no discernible smell of chickens in the air yet, and there are hundreds in cages in a back room.

The D.C. Poultry Market is now open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is giving away two free chickens per customer for the first two days that it is open.

“If you go around the neighborhood, this is the cleanest place,” owner Abdul Mused told ALXnow. “We are cleaner than a supermarket. Do you smell any chickens? Of course not.”

Mused says he spent more than $400,000 in rent for the property, which is near a number of pet-related businesses, including the Wholistic Hound Dog AcademyFrolick DogsDogtopia, Pinnacle Pet Spa & More, as well as the Wild Bird Center of Alexandria. A number of those neighbors deluged City Council with letters after their 5-2 approval of a special use permit in 2019, which gave Mused the green light.

Or so he thought.

Neighbors were concerned that the smell of chickens would incense canines at these businesses. Alexandria Circuit Court Judge Lisa Kemler ended up throwing out two cases levied by 10 area citizens and business owners against the city and council for the decision. At the end of the day, Mused reportedly spent $600,000 on interior renovations and $150,000 in legal fees, and says he won’t be opening any new locations in the area anytime soon.

“It’s not worth it for me,” he said. “My plan is to open one-to-two stores a year. I opened four stores while this one was in development, and I’m moving on. My next city is Raleigh, North Carolina.”

Mused, who owns 18 slaughterhouses around the country, was born in Yemen and emigrated to the U.S. in 1997. He started work as a teenager at his father’s corner deli in New York City, and with his brother, Ahmed, opened their first halal slaughterhouse.

“I had two locations by the time I graduated high school,” Mused said, adding some advice to business owners facing adversity. “You need to stick to it, and not everybody can do that. If you give up once you will never succeed again.”

The slaughterhouse will get 300-to-500 chickens in closed box trucks every other day from an Amish community in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Customers select a chicken in a steel cage with a number attached to its leg. The customer will get a ticket with the number as the chicken is taken into another room and slaughtered in accordance with Islamic law.

Pork Barrel BBQ in Del Ray took home the first two slaughtered chickens.

“We are honored to cook the most controversial chickens in modern Alexandria history,” Pork Barrel BBQ owner Bill Blackburn said. “Although I’m not sure they are still considered halal after being cooked on equipment that also cooks pork.”

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What an unexpectedly busy summer week in Alexandria. Here’s the rundown.

Our top story was on an Alexandria woman who claims she was roofied at a restaurant on the waterfront on the evening of July 9. A police report has been filed, and no charges have been made.

This week we sat down with acting Police Chief Don Hayes, who said that he’s thrown his hat in the ring with City Manager Mark Jinks to keep the top job. Hayes, a 40-year veteran of the Alexandria Police Department took over after the sudden departure of Chief Michael Brown last month, and will have to contend against candidates in a national search.

The Tokyo Olympics also start this week, and the games will include three T.C. Williams High School graduates — sprinter Noah Lyles, high-jumper Tynita Butts-Townsend and boxer Troy Isley. In fact, Lyles just had a comic book biography published in the Washington Post. If you’re a fan of the Olympic games, check out this list of local restaurants celebrating with special events and meals.

Important stories

Top stories

  1. Woman claims she was roofied at Old Town restaurant
  2. Residents protest against conditions at West End apartment complex
  3. Developers eye Beauregard redevelopment with West End upgrades on the horizon
  4. Former chef at ‘The Alexandrian’ opening new restaurant in Arlandria on Monday
  5. No injuries after shots fired in Braddock area on Wednesday
  6. DASH takes lessons from D.C., Baltimore and Oregon in eliminating bus fares
  7. ‘Call Your Mother Deli’ signs lease in Old Town
  8. After last month’s Democratic primary, Republican Darryl Nirenberg tops campaign donation leaderboard
  9. New city health improvement plan aims to fix inequities
  10. Poll: Have you been to the Winkler Botanical Preserve?
  11. Lee-Fendall House to throw speakeasy party to finance building repairs

Have a safe weekend!

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There are a number of available volunteer opportunities in Alexandria this summer.

“We need hundreds of people per week,” Volunteer Alexandria Executive Director Marion Brunken told ALXnow. “More people are in need now than ever.”

Here’s Volunteer Alexandria’s list of new and upcoming opportunities.

  • Help Provide Meals to Children — “Alexandria City Public School (ACPS) will provide two days worth of breakfast and lunch meals with a snack pack free for any enrolled ACPS student on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Friday distribution will include a meal(s) for Saturday. Volunteers will meet at various schools to assist with packing boxes and loading buses with boxed meals. Then, volunteers will ride the bus along to distribute the meals while on site at a few ACPS mobile pop-up locations. Click on each location to sign up: Francis C. Hammond Middle School, Alexandria City High School, or Jefferson Houston School.”
  • Alexandria Dept. of Community and Human Services Volunteer Guardian — “Looking for individuals who can assure the well-being of an
    incapacitated Alexandrian living in an Assisted Living Facility or Nursing Facility. Volunteer Guardians are appointed by the Court to make decisions for older Alexandria residents who have lost the capacity to understand the consequences of their decisions. The volunteer will visit the resident monthly and follow the person’s wishes as much as possible. To express interest, click HERE.”
  • Alexandria Families for Safer Streets Executive Assistant to Board of Directors — “The agency is seeking an executive assistant to help coordinate a diverse group of tasks necessary to keep us on track and moving forward. Someone with office manager skills would be the ideal candidate. To learn more click HERE.
  • ALIVE! — “Volunteers are needed to assist with multiple programs relating to their Food Program, ALIVE! House, and Alexandria Eviction Prevention Partnership Program will distribute food at Mobile Pop-ups and Truck to Trunk events, etc. Click HERE to learn about each opportunity and to register.”
  • The Alzheimer’s Association and the Walk to End Alzheimer’s –Saturday, September 25 (National Harbor) and Saturday, October 9, 2021, on the National Mall, Washington, DC. Volunteers are needed on the day of the events to help with set up, sign placement, information services, promise flower distribution, cheerleaders, and route monitors. To learn more and register, click HERE for September 25 and click HERE for October 9.
  • Create COVID-19 Care Packages with the Salvation Army — “We are collecting items for seniors and vulnerable populations. You can help by creating care packages from the security of your own home and safely dropping items at our locations. To express interest, click HERE.
  • Long Term Client Intake Case Workers — “Provide financial and logistical assistance to those in need of a Virginia state ID, needed to access housing, food assistance, jobs and more. While helping clients get IDs we also register them to vote and help others restore their voting rights. To register, click HERE.
  • On-Call Event Photographer — “Use your photography skills to help document the incredible work of our volunteers. Flexible schedule. Perfect for a
    student looking to build their portfolio or an experienced photographer looking for a service opportunity. Must provide digital photographs (and all rights to photographs) to @VolunteerAlex for use in digital and print promotions. Person must provide their own camera equipment and transportation. To express interest, click HERE.”
  • World Culture Food Festival on Saturday, July 31 – “Volunteers needed for the Around The World Cultural Food Festival. Shifts are in 4-hour and 8-hour segments. These shifts may be before, during, or after the festival. Each volunteer will receive food tickets. Upon request, students can also receive service hours for volunteering in the festival. To sign up, click HERE.”
  • Teacher at Friends of Guest House – “Dedicated volunteers needed to teach various subjects and skills classes to women. The ideal volunteer will be patient and interested in the success of these women as they further their knowledge. Volunteers are also needed to assist with vaccination pods and instruct substance abuse, addiction, and recovery classes. To register and learn more click HERE.”
  • Friendship Firehouse Street Festival — “Volunteers needed between 8 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. on August 7 to assist with set up, visitor counts, greet, monitor tables and interact with guests. Ages 16 and above welcome, (skills needed: perseverance and a smile) fun for the whole family. To register, click HERE.
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Morning Notes

NOVA Parks pledges $800K to maintain River Farm, if sale goes through — “Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority has taken steps to sweeten the offer it made on the historic River Farm property. Nova Parks Executive Director Paul Gilbert announced that the regional park authority has pledged $800,000 toward maintenance and improvement of the property should the American Horticultural Society, the current owner of River Farm, approve the sale.” [Alex Times]

Alexandria hosting Around the World Cultural Food Festival July 31 — “The biggest outdoor food festival in the D.C metro area will happen on Saturday, July 31. And this year’s edition will be held in Alexandria. Enjoy food, music, and an experience highlighting cultural diversity at Oronoco Bay Park from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.” [Zebra]

Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery dedication ceremony this Saturday — “Join Historic Alexandria in honoring Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial’s inclusion in the African American Civil Rights Network (AACRN). The free dedication will include a wreath laying by the 31st Masonic District, a reading by representatives of the United States Colored Troops (USCT), and remarks by Reverend Taft Quincey Heatley. The ceremony will take place rain or shine.” [City of Alexandria]

Today’s weather — “Except for a few afternoon clouds, mainly sunny. A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible. High near 90F. Winds WNW at 10 to 15 mph… Mostly clear skies (in the evening). Low 67F. Winds N at 10 to 15 mph.” [Weather.com]

New job: Part-time chess coach — “As a chess coach for us, you are the core of what we do! You provide a welcoming environment for elementary school children and instruct them on the game. Typically, you teach a group of 10 – 20 children (ages 5-11). You bring all the equipment (provided by us) and teach according to our curriculum, ensuring that you personalize and adjust your teaching to each kid and each group of kids as needed.” [Indeed]

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What a hot week in Alexandria.

With temperatures hovering in the mid-90s, the week started with a power outage at a 17-story apartment building in Landmark area. The outage lasted five days and residents had to find accommodations until the building reopened Friday afternoon.

On the coronavirus front, Alexandria experienced a slight uptick, and the health department says unvaccinated residents account for a majority of new cases. There have been 39 new cases reported so far this month in the city, and 13 cases were reported on July 9. That was the biggest single-day jump since May 20, when 18 new cases were reported.

In school news, this week we spoke with Alexandria High School Principal Peter Balas, who said that his staff are ready to fully reopen for full-time in-person instruction when the 2021-2022 school year starts on August 24.

Important stories

Top stories

  1. Here’s the plan for Alexandria’s birthday celebration this weekend
  2. City Council approves massive high-rise project without affordable housing near Eisenhower Metro station
  3. ‘Call Your Mother Deli’ signs lease in Old Town
  4. Del. Mark Levine raises eyebrows with letter that passes buck on constituent service
  5. Shortened Alexandria Birthday celebration is still on for July 10
  6. Alexandria City High School is ready to reopen at full capacity next month, principal says
  7. School Board Member Jacinta Greene faces reelection, wants race relations taught in ACPS
  8. Tropical Storm Elsa’s dregs tear through southern Alexandria
  9. Poll: Do you agree with reallocation of school resource officer funding?
  10. West End high-rise apartment building evacuated after power outage
  11. The Alexandria Police, Sheriff’s Office and Fire Department all want raises

Have a safe weekend!

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Rodrigo Ferman, a former chef at the The Alexandrian hotel in Old Town, is opening “Ferman Bar and Grill” in Arlandria on Monday, July 19.

Ferman, who cooked at The Alexandrian and Hotel Monaco for 15 years, spent the last three months renovating the interior of 4112 Mount Vernon Avenue. The space was formerly occupied by Chirilagua Pollo & Steak, and the overhaul includes new flooring, the installation of three new booths and an extended counter.

“To cook good food you need passion, and if you do things with passion they work out,” Ferman said. “It’s going to be a happy, exciting place.”

Ferman has applied for a beer and wine license and plans on serving Latin American cuisine with high-end American breakfasts and brunches on the weekends. Rotisserie Peruvian chicken and fajitas with all the fixings are still on the menu, and entrees will range between $10 and $15, he said.

Ferman and his wife lost their jobs last year, and got a third piece of shocking news — they were going to have a baby. Now, with a 15-month-old daughter, he says the time is now to open his first restaurant. He’s also working on a website for the business, as well as linking up with Uber Eats, Grubhub and DoorDash.

“I’m really good,” he said. “People will come to this shopping center just to eat at Ferman Bar and Grill.”

The restaurant will be open for breakfast at 6 a.m. and close at 10 p.m. every Sunday to Wednesday, and from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday to Saturday.

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After taking a year off, the Around The World Cultural Food Festival will be celebrated later this month at Oronoco Bay Park on the Alexandria waterfront.

It’s the first year that the annual event will be hosted in Alexandria, and it will feature more than a dozen food, dessert and smoothie vendors making dishes from around the world.

“This pandemic changed our lives and the way we look at tomorrow in a drastic way,” wrote event organizers on Facebook. “We should never take anything for granted, so while we have this opportunity to host the event in a safe way for everyone- a large, spacious park, we hope to see you on July 31st at Oronoco Bay Park.”

Food trucks and vendors include:

The festival will also be held at Freedom Plaza in D.C. on August 28. Admission is free.

via Facebook

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