Alexandria, VA

Most of all, what Hard Times Cafe (1404 King Street) staff said they’ll miss about Mike Dankwa is his ever present smile and deep-bellied laugh.

In a GoFundMe raising support for Dankwa’s family — organized by Cindy MacIntyre and Hard Times owner Richard Kelly — MacIntyre said Dankwa was an optimistic and cheery presence at the restaurant.

Last Friday, Feb. 19, Dankwa died as a result of complications from COVID-19, Zebra first reported.

“Mike succumbed to COVID-19 on Friday the 19th and leaves behind his lovely wife, Gina; three children and a large extended international family,” MacIntyre said. “Originally from Ghana, he settled in Woodbridge, VA over a decade ago… We hope you will join us with a generous donation to help cover the cost of Mike’s funeral and to support his family as they deal with this unexpected tragedy.”

Dankwa had been at hard times since 2002, working as assistant manager while studying at George Mason University.

“Mike was the friendliest, most positive person at Hard Times,” Kelly said in the post. “He was always there for his staff and our many customers who loved to come visit with him.”

The post noted that Dankwa enjoyed golf and hockey, and was an avid fan of the Washington Capitals.

“It’s heartbreaking to post this but Mike Dankwa the long time GM at Hard Times in Old Town passed away last Friday after a month long battle with Covid,” MacIntyre said. “Mike wasn’t just my Boss during my years there he became someone I considered a friend. He leaves behind his wife, a young son and a daughter in college… He will be truly missed.”

At time of writing, the GoFundMe has raised $4,020 of its $50,000 goal.

Photo via GoFundMe

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Morning Notes

GoFundMe Raises $29K for Family of Bishop Ireton Student — “It is with a heavy heart that the BI community mourns the death of our fellow classmate Andrew Benson, who was taken from us much too soon. He was one of the nicest people we knew and was a member of the BI varsity soccer team. He played fullback  and was an avid soccer player and was one of the hardest workers on the team. He always had a smile on his face and he never failed to make you smile with a joke or make a stressful or hard day a little better.  Please donate if you can or remember him in your thoughts and prayers. All proceeds go to the family and to help with funeral arrangements.” [GoFundMe]

Holy Cow Honors Sue Kovalsky with ‘Burger of the Moment’ — “Sue, we appreciate you! This #BOTM is for you.” [Facebook]

Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter Announces Reelection Bid — “I hope that you will join us online for our campaign kick-off on Wednesday, March 3rd at 7:00 p.m. This will be a great opportunity to learn more about how you can be involved in this campaign and our vision of criminal justice reform.” [Facebook]

Virtual Open House on FEMA Flood Map Update Process — “The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is updating its flood maps of Alexandria and has requested that the City of Alexandria provide community outreach assistance. The City will host a virtual open house on March 1, from 7 to 8 p.m. Residents and businesses are encouraged to participate to learn more about the update to the floodplain maps.” [City of Alexandria]

Bennett-Parker Gets More Endorsements in Race for 45th District Seat — “I’m honored to announce I have been endorsed by Arlington County Board, Vice-Chair @kcristol and Board Member @libbygarvey! Both have an impressive record of public service and I look forward to continuing to work with them on the issues that are important to our region.” [Twitter]

ALIVE! Free Food Distribution Set for Saturday — “On Sat, Feb 20, 8:30-10:30am, @ALIVE4AlexVA will distribute food in Cora Kelly Elem School parking lot and parking lot B-1 of NOVA-Alexandria Campus (map at alive-inc.org, if college closes due to weather, distribution cancelled).” [Twitter]

Today’s Weather — “Intervals of clouds and sunshine (during the day). High 36F. Winds NNW at 5 to 10 mph… Cloudy (in the evening). Snow showers developing after midnight. Low 28F. Winds NE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of snow 80%. Snow accumulating 1 to 3 inches.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Real Estate Photographer — “Nova Virtual Tours, Inc. provides photography, videography, aerials, and interactive 3D Virtual Tours to all industries. We work closely with realtors in the Northern Virginia area to provide them with marketing tools and media to sell their listings, and we also work with commercial clients in many different industries within NoVa and beyond.” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

Beyer Says Images of Capitol Siege Should be Viewed by Everyone — “These images of one of the darkest days in our nation’s history are disturbing. But these things happened, and we cannot erase these events, their causes, or their meaning. Everyone should watch this.” [Twitter]

Pat Malone, Cancer Survivor to ‘Stand Up To Cancer’ for 24 Hours Straight — “Patrick J. ‘Pat’ Malone, a seven-year cancer survivor, and 20-year Air Force veteran will ‘stand up to cancer’ for 24-hours straight, during his Seventh Annual Stand Up To Cancer.” [Zebra]

City Says There Was Error in Vaccine Scheduling — ” AHD has recently identified an internal process error that resulted in several hundred people within the 65-74 age group receiving appointment phone calls out of order. To ensure that no one was skipped due to this error, AHD sent emails for appointment scheduling on Sunday, February 7. Many people who have already scheduled appointments or received vaccines were contacted, and those who received the email unnecessarily should ignore it. The link cannot be used to schedule second doses and it cannot be used by others. As of February 8, AHD has contacted everyone ages 65-74 who pre-registered for their first dose by 7:30 a.m. on January 12.” [City of Alexandria]

South Alex Construction Moving Along One Year After Fire — “One year ago on Monday, a large fire caused $48 million in damages to the South Alex development, which was under construction at the time. Now, developer Combined Properties and architect, Hord Coplan Macht, are getting closer to opening, despite the setback.” [Alexandria Living]

Former Mayor Kerry Donley Endorses Alyia Gaskins for City Council — “I am happy to support Alyia as she launches he campaign for City Council. Alyia has a solid background in public finance and community activism, which will be important as she serves Alexandria on City Council. Alyia represents the enthusiasm of a new age of the Alexandria community which will be important for years to come.” [Twitter]

Today’s Weather — “Partly cloudy skies in the morning will give way to cloudy skies during the afternoon. A few flurries or snow showers possible. High 43F. Winds NNE at 5 to 10 mph… Cloudy with snow (in the evening). Low 32F. Winds light and variable. Chance of snow 80%. Snow accumulating 1 to 3 inches.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Private Piano Teacher — “Old Town Music School, an old fashioned preparatory Music School in Old Town Alexandria for over 20 years, is expanding and hiring a community of professional musicians/teachers who offer a nurturing, positive and personal approach to piano lessons. Students are beginning through advanced intermediate levels. Seeking out-going, motivated and fun teachers to join our faculty.” [Indeed]

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The Connection Newspapers, like many local news organizations across the country, has been hit with a drop-off in advertising during the pandemic. Now, with the network of local papers on its last legs, the Alexandria Gazette Packet has gotten a groundswell of support from the community it’s covered for around 200 years.

The GoFundMe fundraiser aimed at helping to save the paper has earned $10,982 of its $50,000 goal since it launched on Christmas Eve.

The fundraiser has received support from 174 donors, from an anonymous $500 donation to donations as small as $5.

The Alexandria Gazette Packet, which has a lineage dating back to the Virginia Journal’s founding in 1784, is part of the Connection Newspapers network covering Northern Virginia and part of Maryland. The paper has covered everything from breaking news to local community profiles and has several featured editions throughout the year on things like local pets or a newcomer’s guide to the city.

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After working as close partners through the pandemic, the City of Alexandria and community non-profit ACT for Alexandria have come together to launch a new program called the Alexandria Resilience Fund.

The new fund focuses on allocating funding to organizations dedicated to addressing the racial inequalities exhibited in coronavirus’ impact. The fund looks specifically to support nonprofits that have histories of supporting marginalized communities in Alexandria.

The Fund made grants up to $50,000 to 57 organizations from October to December 30, 2020.

“The City of Alexandria has designated CARES Act funding to establish the Alexandria Resilience Fund, in partnership with ACT for Alexandria,” ACT for Alexandria said on its website. “This effort builds on the significant investment and support provided by the ACT Now COVID-19 Response Fund.  This new Fund will support the health and sustainability of local nonprofit organizations that are addressing ongoing and emerging human service needs of City residents impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

ACT for Alexandria listed additional criteria for the fund on its website:

  • Nonprofit must have the immediate ability to carry out proposed programs/services.
  • Nonprofit must be able to demonstrate how the grant request addresses direct costs incurred due to COVID-19.
  • Nonprofit must demonstrate how this funding request will impact City of Alexandria residents who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19.
  • Nonprofit must be committed to addressing racial equity and demonstrate deep, trusted relationships with communities that have been marginalized and disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

So far, the Resilience Fund has raised a little over $1 million, with a goal of $1.5 million.

The ACT Now COVID-19 Response Fund has now re-branded as the Alexandria Resilience Fund., which is distributing money into our community to support the many needs this crisis has created,” Mayor Justin Wilson said in his newsletter. “Please join me in supporting this fundraising effort.”

Image via ACT for Alexandria

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Morning Notes

Beyer Calls Trump ‘Super Spreader in Chief’ — “The Super-Spreader-In-Chief strikes again. From coast to coast he visits American communities spreading dangerous aversion to science and public health precautions. He brings large groups of people together under unsafe conditions in state after state, and this is what results.” [Twitter]

Halloween Weekend Events in Alexandria — “While Alexandria police are not planning to close down Lee Street for the annual Halloween party, there are lots of activities Halloween weekend.” [Alexandria Living]

ACT for Alexandria’s #ArtsALX Fundraiser Extended to Nov. 6 — “We are still fundraising to save the arts! 100% of donations will directly support artists in Alexandria. Donation portals open thru Friday, Nov. 6.” [Twitter]

Two Alexandria Restaurants Make Washingtonian’s List for Cozy Escapes — “The Yates family went above and beyond when reimagining the outdoor space at Lena’s Wood-Fired Pizza & Tap during the pandemic. The 5,200 square-foot set-up has cabanas–hung with Moroccan lanterns–for parties of ten or less; pergolas glowing with string lights; and a new beer garden ringed around a fire pit… Pick (at Del Ray’s Evening Star Cafe) between two homey outdoor areas at this Alexandria mainstay: the Front Porch, where you can sip a bourbon slush by a fire-pit table, and the new, roomy Back Yard.” [Washingtonian]

ALIVE! Hosting Food Distribution Event on Halloween — “The event will be held at two drive-through sites: the parking lots of John Adams Elementary (5651 Rayburn Ave.) and Cora Kelly Elementary (3600 Commonwealth Ave.). Residents can pick up food at either location from 8:30-10:30 a.m. or until supplies last.” [Zebra]

Animal Welfare League of Alexandria Gets Pets Displaced by Zeta — “We are so glad we were able to welcome a group of dogs and cats from @LASPCA last night. In preparation for the landfall of Hurricane Zeta, The Louisiana SCPA needed to make extra room in their shelter so they could help animals displaced by the storm.” [Twitter]

Today’s Weather — “Cloudy skies (during the day) . High 53F. Winds NNW at 10 to 20 mph. A few clouds from time to time (in the evening). Low 37F. Winds N at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Deputy Clerk — “The Deputy Clerk (Grade 7) is assigned operational responsibilities and ensures court’s instructions are executed and legal papers are prepared with accuracy and in accordance with appropriate policies and procedures.” [Indeed]

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Alexandria has identified hundreds of families, older adults and kids with disabilities who are eligible to receive gifts in the Fund for Alexandria’s Child Holiday Sharing Program.

The deadline to send in gift cards and donations is November 13, and all contributions are tax-deductible.

“The holiday time can be stressful for those experiencing financial or emotional stress,” according to the city. “This is especially true for low-income families, older adults and children in foster care.”

The city identified 450 families, 100 older adults and adults with disabilities, and 120 kids in foster care who will benefit from the annual program.

“We’ve made some changes this year to keep people safe,” said Fund Coordinator Krystal Fenwick. “But one thing hasn’t changed — Our community needs to reach out and support people in need, especially during this holiday season.”

The Fund for Alexandria’s Child is asking for the following no-contact participation:

  • Sponsor children and teens in foster care, older adults and adults with disabilities, or a family by providing gift cards to designated grocery stores and businesses (learn more about guidelines around sponsorships)
  • Make a donation by credit card online to meet unfulfilled needs or wishes
  • Make a donation via check payable to “The Fund for Alexandria’s Child” or to the “DCHS Senior Fund” and mail to: Holiday Sharing Program, 2525 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria, VA 22301
  • Ask family, friends and colleagues to join you in sponsoring
  • Ask an employer to match your contribution
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With limited public performances, shuttered galleries and cancelled events, the Alexandria art scene has been hit hard this year.

On Saturday (October 24), the Alexandria Arts Alliance and ACT for Alexandria will host a virtual fundraiser for arts organizations and artists in the city.

“We knew as the weather gets colder, gathering will become more challenging,” said Alexandria Arts Alliance Board President Melinda Kernc. “There is amazing and inspirational art happening all around us, and we want Alexandria residents to experience it, even if they are staying home. These artists and arts organizations desperately need support from the community they serve so well. This entertaining, collaborative showcase provides a way to ensure the arts will emerge strong when the pandemic subsides.”

The event, which will raise funds for dozens of organizations, will be live streamed Saturday at 7 p.m. on the Alexandria Arts Alliance Facebook page. The event will include Guests will include an appearance by the mayor, a Saturday Night Live cast member and video vignettes from 23 Alexandria-based artists and arts organizations.

Additionally, Homegrown Restaurant Group (Holy Cow, Pork Barrel BBQ, The Sushi Bar, Sweet Fire Donna’s, Tequila & Taco, and Whiskey & Oyster) will donate 10% from its take-out orders that night if customers mention the event.

The following artist organizations will be featured:

  • Alexandria Choral Society
  • Alexandria Citizens Band
  • Alexandria Film Festival
  • Alexandria Harmonizers
  • Alexandria Singers
  • Alexandria Symphony Orchestra
  • Art on the Avenue
  • Arts on the Horizon
  • ArtSpire VA
  • Brave Spirits
  • Del Ray Artisans
  • Eclipse Chamber Orchestra
  • Fantastical Glass
  • Karen Fitzgerald Art
  • Lisa Schumaier
  • Local Motion Project
  • Metropolitan School of the Arts
  • MetroStage
  • QuinTango
  • The Art League
  • UpCycle Creative Reuse Center
  • Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic Association
  • Yellow Door Concert Series

Wow! Just WOW! We are so grateful for the ACT donors who have pledged $14,000 in matching funds to save #artsALX!

Posted by Alexandria Arts Alliance on Wednesday, October 21, 2020

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Morning Notes

U.S. Secretary of Education Commends ACPS Superintendent for Sending Child to Private School — “How great that Superintendent Hutchings is able to make this choice for his child. Every family in Alexandria, VA, and across the entire country, should have the same freedom to choose where, when and how their kids learn.” [Twitter]

Beyer Says Trump Lying About Health Care Plan — “rump has no health plan. He’s been lying for five years, always saying there’s this amazing plan just around the corner. Meanwhile he’s suing to get the health law that protects Americans with preexisting conditions struck down by the Supreme Court.” [Twitter]

City Wins Grant to Add WiFi and Seating to Four Mile Run Park Plaza — “Alexandria was one of just 10 cities to receive the award.” [City of Alexandria]

City Releases Guidance for Trick-Or-Treaters — “The City of Alexandria and the Alexandria Health Department (AHD) strongly urge residents to choose lower risk Halloween and Dia de los Muertos activities this year to reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 outbreaks. There are many alternative options to celebrate Halloween and Dia de los Muertos while also maintaining a lower level risk of spreading COVID-19.” [City of Alexandria]

Virtual Fundraiser for Artists on October 24 — “ACT 4 #ArtsALX was inspired by the need for artists to share their work given the difficulty of performing, teaching and holding exhibits in the time of COVID-19. The lack of revenue from performances, classes and exhibitions has led to critical financial problems for the arts. Most artists and organizations have had to cancel seasons and indoor events for the foreseeable future, transitioning to smaller, outdoor events and virtual presentations.”

Today’s Weather — “Mainly sunny (during the day). High 73F. Winds W at 5 to 10 mph. A mostly clear sky (in the evening). Low 54F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Keyboards/Guitar Teacher — “3+ years teaching experience on keyboards/guitar. Multi-instrumentalist a plus. Experience working with children as young as 6 years old. Ability to pass a standard background check and sign a code of conduct.” [Facebook]

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Image may contain: 4 people, sky, shoes and outdoor

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…

Posted by Casa Chirilagua on Thursday, October 8, 2020

Challenge: Can you complete the Casa Virtual 5K while pushing a double stroller with kids? Our Executive Director,…

Posted by Casa Chirilagua on Thursday, October 1, 2020

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