Alexandria, VA

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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Employees of local coffee shop Killer E.S.P. (1012 King Street) who quit in protest of controversial tweets made on the company’s social media have raised $5,119 in a GoFundMe campaign, more than twice the campaign’s initial $2,000 goal.

“Due to the recent issues that have come to light on social media, the employees who stayed and worked through this pandemic have all officially quit (as of 6/10/20),” the campaign organizers said on the page. “We made this decision despite not having other jobs lined up because we felt it would be in our best interest for various reasons. We are currently looking for new work opportunities, but for the time being, will not be receiving any income. We created this page for any support that regulars, friends, and/or family may be able to donate to help us bridge the gap between employment during this stressful time.”

Tweets made from the Killer E.S.P. Twitter account, which has since been deleted, included calling coronavirus a “scam” and liberalism “a disease.” Posts liked by the account were even more insensitive, including jokes about George Floyd’s death and a proposal to electrify the White House fence.

Owner Rob Shelton told Washingtonian that the account was hacked, or was being abused by an employee with access, but also doubled down on many of the sentiments expressed on the social media account.

Former Killer E.S.P. employees Hannah, Nate and Kristyn said in the GoFundMe that the social media posts were reflective of views Shelton had shared with staff.

“We would also like to note that we do not condone any of the views shared via the company’s social media pages,” the former staff said. “Additionally we would like to note that these comments have been shared in person to both staff and customers.”

The employees noted that the mass quitting was also inspired by Shelton’s handling of employee safety during the pandemic.

“One of the main reasons we left was for our safety during the pandemic,” the former staff said. “Now that there are laws requiring face masks, we all finally felt comfortable enough to wear them without backlash. The owner encouraged staff to not wear a mask by stating that he would pay any fines we received. He also encouraged customers to take off their masks and encouraged customers to sit inside, even though it is currently against the law.”

The GoFundMe was shared across social media — including by City Councilman John Chapman.

In an update to the campaign, staff said they missed their interactions with customers and thanked the community for their support. Donations ranged from $5 and $10 to two anonymous donations of $200 and $250.

“We cannot thank the community enough for their support,” staff said. “We are so grateful for everyone helping us through this difficult time!”

Photo via GoFundMe

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The family of an Alexandria man killed Monday night on Interstate 495 have launched a GoFundMe campaign to help with funeral expenses.

The fund to help the family of Derrick A. Marbury was launched three days ago and has so far raised more than $3,100 out of a $10,000 goal.

“Me and my siblings lost my father last night around 10pm,” Danaeyah Marbury wrote. “He left behind 4 daughters and 1 son. He was loved so much by everyone around him. He always had a smile on his face. Me and my family need help laying my father to rest. Anything helps thank you❤️ it was a hit and run.”

Marbury, a 49-year-old tow truck driver, was killed running out of the way of an accident as he responded to a disabled vehicle on southbound I-495 on Monday night. The incident occurred less than a mile north of Route 236 in Fairfax County and it remains under investigation, according to Virginia State Police.

“The Virginia State Police Fairfax Division Crash Reconstruction Team responded to the scene and is assisting with the ongoing crash investigation,” Virginia State Police said in a statement on Thursday. “This is all the information we have at this time.”

Photo via GoFundMe

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Morning Notes

Alexandria Enters Phase 2 of Reopening Economy — “Under phase two, the maximum number of people allowed to gather increases from 10 to 50. Restaurants can open indoor dining at 50 percent capacity, and fitness centers can open at 30 percent capacity.” [Alex Times]

Del. Herring Supports Criminal Justice Reform — “As legislators there is a lot of work ahead of ahead of us. This piece was originally published in 2018 & updated. From policing to solitary confinement this is worth reading & then acting.” [Twitter]

Sheriff and Staff Congratulate T.C. Williams High School Graduates — “You’ve handled it with true Titan spirit — responsibly, creatively and boldly! We’re so proud of you and we will always remember the 2020 Titans!” [Facebook]

Locals Create Face Mask Company — “The masks sell for only $5.00 apiece in packs of 3/$15 for a very breathable fleece, and 3/$20 for the scuba knit. They also have adorable children’s masks, in colorful fabrics, sized appropriately.” [Zebra]

Old Town Books Closed Sunday in Recognition of Black Lives Matter Protestors — “Our storefront will be CLOSED this Sunday, June 14 to stand in solidarity with protestors in Old Town. We’ve also extended our donations from the antiracist reading list on our homepage, with 20% of sales from those books going toward the Black Lives Matter movement. A lot of the books on the list are in high demand right now and are taking a bit longer than usual to receive, so we appreciate your patience as we continue to fulfill all your orders!” [Facebook]

fibre space Staying Closed Until Next Week — “While northern VA will begin phase 2 tomorrow, we will remain closed to the public for in store shopping until some time next week. This will allow us to monitor Nova cases of covid as well as figure out a schedule for the team that balances processing web orders with hosting customers in the shop. More details to come. See you soon.” [Facebook]

Bishop Ireton High School Raises $70K for Annual Fund — “We did it! Thanks to YOU and your generosity, we met our goal of getting a donation from every state (and DC) during our 2020 Annual Fund Day of Giving. We raised more than $70,000 with a number of first time donors. Thank you for supporting Bishop Ireton, our current students and faculty and the future of our school.” [Facebook]

New Job: Event Manager — “The Individual will be responsible managing part and full time employees in operations, logistics, and events. The position requires a strong Project Management background to ensure the continued success of our various events offered throughout the country.” [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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Morning Notes

Regal Potomac Yard Movie Theater Closed for Good — “Regal Cinemas has scrubbed the 16-theater multiplex at 3575 Potomac Ave. from its list of Virginia locations on its website. Couple that with the fact Virginia Tech and JBG Smith Properties (NYSE: JBGS) plan to redevelop the North Potomac Yard site on an accelerated timeline, it’s likely the theater showed its last film months ago — when Disney’s “Onward” was No. 1 at the box office.” [Washington Business Journal]

Governor Releases ‘Forward Virginia’ Phase Two Guidelines — “Most of the state will enter phase two on Friday, June 5. Northern Virginia, including the City of Alexandria and Fairfax County, might enter about a week later — but only if local coronavirus and health metrics indicate it is safe to do so. The governor has not given Northern Virginia a projected date for entering the second phase.” [Alexandria Living]

Group Raises Thousands for Alexandria Families — “We are helping more than 30 families every week with food, toiletries, cleaning supplies, and baby supplies during the COVID 19 pandemic.  Many of these families are unemployed and not eligible for benefits.” [GoFundMe]

Virtual Job Fair Today — “The city of Alexandria Workforce Development Center is hosting a free “Meet the Employer” event tomorrow! Learn more about immediate employment opportunities in Virginia.” [Facebook]

Food Drive Replaces First Thursday in Del Ray — “On Thursday, June 4 (by 4 p.m.), plastic tubs or boxes will be placed on Mount Vernon Avenue at the intersection of all streets from Hume to Braddock; in front of the Mount Vernon Recreation Center; and at the intersection of Commonwealth Avenue and the following streets: Braddock, Monroe, Alexandria Ave., Windsor, Del Ray, and Ashby. Items will be picked up by 7:30 p.m.” [Facebook]

Teens Plan Peace Walk for Saturday — “The public is invited to the Alexandria Peace Walk and encouraged to wear blue, the color for peace. Walkers are asked to bring posters, wear masks and stay six feet apart for the walk, cha-cha slide, and prayer.” [Zebra]

Hyatt Centric Old Town Welcomes Back Customers With Video — “We at the Hyatt Centric Old Town Alexandria are ready to welcome you back with the highest safety and cleaning procedures for your peace of mind when you travel.” [Youtube]

New Job: Shopkeeper Apprentice at Ice Cream Shop — “Shopkeeper Apprentices are full-time employees sharing the same responsibilities as the Shopkeeper including accounting, scheduling, inventory/ordering, and all HR functions (hiring, training, development, and performance management of all team members).” [Indeed]

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After receiving two recent donations totaling $150,000, ACT for Alexandria is nearing $1 million for its ACT Now COVID-19 response fund, and the organization will be taking a break from giving grants to nonprofits to plan for the summer.

“We’re working with the city and our nonprofit partners to think through what the next phase of recovery is going to look like,” ACT for Alexandria President and CEO Heather Peeler told ALXnow. “We’ll be pausing grant making for a couple of weeks. While we talk through and get a better sense for how the needs of our community are evolving.”

Last week, Act for Alexandria was notified that it won two unsolicited grants, one for $50,000 from the Myer Foundation and another $150,000 grant from the Frank and Betty Wright Foundation.

Peeler set a personal goal of raising $1 million for the fund by the end of the summer, and the recent grants have put the total raised at more than $985,000. As of mid-May, the fund has awarded $686,860 in grants to Alexandria nonprofits, including ALIVE!, Together We Bake and Neighborhood Health.

ACT for Alexandria will pause the grants from May 26 until mid-June.

Last month, the organization also raised a record $2.45 million for 156 nonprofits during the Spring2ACTion event, and the platform remains open to donate to local organizations.

“Our strategy is to constantly share the work that the nonprofits are doing in our community,” Peeler said. “By showing that all the donations are making a real difference in people’s lives, that’s the best strategy for engaging donors and helping them see how they can continue to make a difference.”

Photo via Alive!/Facebook

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Morning Notes

City Helps World Central Kitchen Give Out 1,250 Meals — “On May 14, City staff and volunteers distributed 1,250 hot meals to 350 families in the third food distribution organized in Alexandria by World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit food distribution organization founded by chef José Andrés. Local nonprofit ALIVE! also distributed 800 pounds of food at the event. This food distribution will take place again at Casa Chirilagua on May 21 and Ramsay Elementary School on May 28.” [City of Alexandria]

10,000 Maniacs Show at The Birchmere Rescheduled to November — “his show has been RESCHEDULED AGAIN, now for Friday November 20, 2020! All 3/20/20 & 5/31/20 tickets will be honored on the new date. Refunds available through Ticketmaster if you cannot attend the new date. If you purchased at The Birchmere Box Office, please hold on to your tickets until we reopen. Tickets for 11/20/20 on sale now!” [Birchmere]

Old Town Books Raising Funds to Stay Afloat — “I never thought I would be turning to crowd funding to keep the store open. This fundraiser is to cover payroll, rent, and fixed costs during the shut down. It will keep the store open through the next very uncertain year while we adapt our business model to continue operating through the COVID-19 outbreak. I want Old Town Books to be here when the clouds part, and I hope you do, too.” [GoFundMe]

Here’s the Latest from the Old Town Boutique District — “The Old Town Boutique District kindly asks for you to continue to hold hands with us and support us little guys any way that you can. We love our loyal shop local community and we still need you.” [OTBD]

Tall Ship Providence Hosting Virtual Tours on Tuesdays — “Every week, historic re-enactors talk about Providence, life aboard the ship and much more in a series of videos, online discussion and other virtual features.” [Alexandria Living]

North Potomac Yard Virtual Community Meeting at 7 p.m. — “The Virginia Tech Foundation and JBG SMITH will host a virtual community meeting to provide information regarding transportation, open space, sustainability and community benefits.” [City of Alexandria]

Sixth Grader Leaves Colorful Rocks in Neighborhood — “Sophie Richardson, a 6th grade student at St. Stephens/St. Agnes School, is brightening up the Vauxcleuse neighborhood near Inova Alexandria Hospital with rocks painted with uplifting messages for her neighbors to find.” [Gazette]

Virtue Feed and Grain Donates Meals to D.C. Nonprofit — “We are grateful for the partnership & hope to continue giving back to our community.” [Facebook]

Pedego Electric Bikes Gets Colorful Shipment of Helmets — “We just received a shipment of new Thousand helmets! Refilling some favorites and adding a few new awesome colors. Come and get them while they last!” [Facebook]

The Art League is Offering Online Courses — “Check out our new online classes to help keep you connected to each other and your creativity. Connect to online classes using Zoom, a video-conferencing platform that is simple and easy to use. And stay in touch with your classmates and teacher with Google classroom.” [Art League]

New Job: Alexandria Health Department Communications Officer — “The AHD Communications Officer is a key member of AHD’s Population Health team comprised of the Population Health Manager, Health Planner, and HIV/AIDS Prevention Coordinator. 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.” [Indeed]

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Even though Alexandria Little Leaguers won’t be knocking the covers off baseballs this season, their organization has raised $15,850 so that local nonprofits can provide emergency food assistance in the city.

Alexandria Little League raised the money in a GoFundMe campaign, and funds were divided between ALIVE! and Feed The Fight Alexandria, which gives food to local hospitals. The organization also received some help from a local church.

Del Ray United Methodist Church partnered with us by matching the second $5000 with their own check for $5000. Which brought us to the total of $15,500 which we distributed over the weekend,” Alexandria Little League president Sherry Reilly told ALXnow.

Jennifer Ayers, the executive director of ALIVE! spoke to ALXnow as she held a check for $7753.40, which was awarded on Giving Tuesday on May 5. ALIVE! did not participate in Giving Tuesday because it received more than $145,000 in the Spring2ACTion fundraiser on April 15, and Ayers said she appreciated the support.

“That’s a really big donation for us,” Ayers said. “People are giving right now, and that’s important.”

Photo via Alexandria Little League/Facebook

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Alexandria photographer Billy Sabatini had no idea how popular his Front Steps Project would be, and over the last several weeks he’s ended up taking photos of more than 150 families and sequestered individuals in front of their homes.

“I thought it’d be kind of a fun, small thing and maybe get a handful of people to participate,” Sabatini told ALXnow. “I started taking photos of friends and neighbors, and after about a week-and-a-half word of mouth spread and it just took off. I’ve now got 100+ families on my list and my plan is to take pictures of them all.”

Sabatini, who has lived in Alexandria for 20 years, will leave the comfort of his wife and two daughters to go take pictures on weekends and after 4 p.m. — just when the light is right for taking pictures. He’ll drive to the street where he’s supposed to take pictures and then text the family. Once in front of the house, he will greet everyone at a distance (while wearing a cloth face mask) and then quickly take their portrait with a Nikon D50 and a 70-200mm telephoto lens.

“Everyone has been tremendously friendly and upbeat,” he said. “It warms your heart to see this in your community, and it’s been rewarding because I get to meet all these new people that I’d never probably would have met otherwise.”

One woman he photographed was so happy to interact with another human being after being isolated that she walked out of her house to meet him and extended her hand for a handshake. She then realized what she was doing and told him that she was simply excited to interact with another person, he said.

Incidentally, at 6 p.m. today, the Del Ray community will have a front porch party for its first monthly Thursday celebration.

“I found that people really are appreciative of this effort, because I think they think it really brings a sense of community,” Sabatini said. “It really kind of captures the time when everyone is together, and it’s not something we’ll hopefully ever experience again. It’s a really unique time. And for some people, maybe, it’s been really difficult. And maybe for some it’s been really good to have all of their family together at this moment in time.”

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Alexandria Realtors The Goodhart Group has raised nearly $14,000 for local restaurants in a GoFundMe campaign, and each $15 meal goes to Inova Alexandria Hospital.

The Goodhart Group raised $13,925, exceeding its goal of $13,500.

“We were actually inspired by some other company agents we know in Brooklyn, New York,” DuShuttle said. “We started this GoFundMe page in order to provide, meals to frontline health care workers at Inova Alexandria Hospital to just thank them for everything they’re doing here in the community during this crazy time.”

Each week, the Goodhart Group features a new restaurant, starting off with meals from Mason Social on April 7, followed by Sweet Fire Donna’s, Mia’s Italian Kitchen and Osteria Marzano. Each restaurant delivers $100 means per week, and each meal costs $15.

“The goal was to do 100 meals per week through the end of the June 10 stay at home order,” DuShuttle said. “So, we’ve exceeded our goal and will either increase the number of meals per week or just keep going with it.”

As far as the local real estate market goes, DuShuttle said that April and May are usually the busiest period in Alexandria. Open houses are still happening, but have mostly been eliminated.

“Obviously I don’t think that will be the case in 2020,” she said. “Everyone’s making sure that we’re really only letting pre-approved, well-qualified buyers into properties. People are doing a lot of virtual showing before doing an actual physical walkthrough.”

DuShuttle added, “It’s actually probably a pretty good time to buy at the moment because interest rates are still really low, and there’s less competition right now. So, there are a lot of people who do need to buy and do need to sell and we’re seeing buyers get some good deals.”

We wanted to THANK YOU again for your generous support and donations thus far for our program to provide meals for…

Posted by The Goodhart Group on Thursday, April 30, 2020

Staff photo by James Cullum

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Arlandria bar Hops N Shine (3410 Mount Vernon Avenue) is running a GoFundMe for its laid-off kitchen staff.

The bar opened last January and has become a local fixture; full to the point of overflowing on Wednesday trivia nights. Like other restaurants, Hops N Shine is operating a limited carry-out and delivery business, and the company said in the GoFundMe that it’s had to minimize the number of employees for financial and health reasons.

“Our kitchen team became part of our family over three years ago at Tysons Biergarten and moved to Hops N Shine with us when TBG closed due to redevelopment,” Hops N Shine said. “They are parents and husbands responsible for caring for more than just themselves. If we could just give them the money to feed their families, pay their rent, or take care of their car payments, we absolutely would. As a small business that has been open for about a year that has closed its doors indefinitely (barring takeout & delivery), we just do not have the funds.”

Many of those in the donated column are regulars at the bar, which has raised $3,600 of its $25,000 goal.

Hops N Shine is open for carryout and delivery, and is also hosting online happy hours and live music.

The fundraiser said the bar is planning on opening again soon and former employees will be offered their jobs back, but that those employees needed help in the meantime.

Hops N Shine isn’t alone. Other bars and restaurants in Alexandria with GoFundMe campaigns for laid-off staff include:

Photo via Hops N Shine/GoFundMe

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