Alexandria, VA

Lee Raynes has been humbled by community support after her Del Ray home burned down on Saturday, September 12.

At around 7 p.m., Raynes, who owns Bellies and Babies Consignment Boutique on Mount Vernon Avenue, was on her front porch when she smelled smoke. At first she thought it was her dinner burning in the oven, but knew it was more serious after opening the front door of her house.

“The fire marshal told me that it was my drier in the basement, which wasn’t even on,” Raynes told ALXnow. “The biggest problem is that the structural integrity of the house is compromised, because the cross beams on the main level are charred. It looks like I will have to tear down to foundation and rebuild.”

Raynes’ 10-year-old son was not home at the time, and their 16-year-old cat died in the fire.

Within 48 hours, the Del Ray Business Association organized a GoFundMe campaign for Raynes that has since raised more than $11,000.

“Thankfully, Lee and her 10-year-old son are both safe,” the DRBA said. “However, Lee left the house with only the clothes on her back; the family lost their cat in the fire; and their home suffered significant damage in the floorboards on the main level and smoke damage on the third floor… We are in awe of Lee’s constant upbeat attitude despite everything 2020 has thrown at her.”

Raynes said she’s looking at silver linings.

“This community raised $10,000 in less than 12 hours, and I don’t even know 75% of people on that list,” she said. “It’s been very humbling. I started my store to help the community and to feel like they have a village, and it’s me who’s now thriving from the village.”

Image via GoFundMe

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Morning Notes

A Quarter of Alexandria Voters Have Requested Mail-In Ballots — “Over a quarter of Alexandria’s registered voters have applied for a ballot by mail for this November’s election (!!!). Ballots will be mailed out beginning next week when in-person early voting also begins. You can apply online today for a mail ballot!” [Twitter]

Seven Alexandria Students Make National Merit Scholarship List — “Students from Alexandria area high schools have been named 2021 National Merit Scholarship semifinalists, taking the first step in securing a scholarship in the competitive program.” [Patch]

Beyer Criticizes Trump for Complaining Over Scandals — “You were recorded admitting you deceived the entire country about the danger of a virus that has killed more Americans than all wars since WWII combined. Can’t lie your way out of this one.” [Twitter]

ACPS Needs Donations for School Supplies — “While this year is considerably different because of the coronavirus pandemic, students still need essential supplies. ACPS is asking for community support. However, instead of donating physical items, they request that interested parties donate funds electronically.” [Zebra]

Alexandria Police Officer Appointed to State Board — “Governor Ralph Northam announced on September 4 that he has appointed Alexandria Police Officer Bennie L. Evans to the Commonwealth of Virginia Criminal Justice Services Board.” [Facebook]

Here’s Seven Things to do in Alexandria This Fall — “Enjoy a cruise aboard the tall ship Providence or set out for the new cat café or coming-soon dog bar. Contemplate new outdoor artwork like the ‘Come Together’ mural in Old Town. Mask up and visit just-opened independent businesses including the D.C. area’s first zero-waste sustainable grocer plus the national eco-conscious brand Patagonia, coming to King Street in September. Twelve new restaurants will tempt you with takeout or outdoor seating. Don your face mask and discover what’s new in Alexandria.” [Visit Alexandria]

Workforce Development Center Offers Job Counseling — “Are you recently unemployed or want to change your career and don’t know where to start? We are now offering free one-on-one Job Search Coaching to help Alexandrians who have experienced job loss during the pandemic.” [Facebook]

Today’s Weather — “Thunderstorms likely during the day. Potential for heavy rainfall. High 83F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 80%.Thunderstorms likely in the evening. Then a chance of scattered thunderstorms later on. Low 73F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 80%.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Scholarship Fund of Alexandria Assistant Director — “The qualified applicant will be eager to support the organization’s effort to help Alexandria high school students obtain college scholarships and college and financial aid advising. This position is full-time, year-round and provides an opportunity to work in a small, dynamic, mission-driven, collegial nonprofit organization.” [Indeed]

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Get your trainers ready, because the 39th annual StepALIVE! Walkathon is going virtual this year.

For the last 38 years, ALIVE! has hosted a five-mile walkathon to raise funds for its programs. The event raises upward of $80,000 and is held in the spring, but all that has changed with the coronavirus pandemic.

The event will now be held from September 11 to 13, and participants will walk at their leisure to raise awareness and funds for ALIVE!, which has given away hundreds of thousands of pounds of food since the pandemic hit Alexandria.

“We gave out 160,000 pounds of food last month, and that’s the most we’ve ever done,” ALIVE! Executive Director Jennifer Ayers told ALXnow. “The persistent need is still there. We are seeing our numbers increasing, not decreasing, and the funds we raise from this walk will support our family assistance program to help people pay their bills.”

Registration costs $25 for an individual walker and $10 for seniors and kids up to 13 years old.

“We still continue to need funds to provide food and financial support to residents of Alexandria,” Ayers said. “We’re not expecting to raise this much this year, but we’ll take whatever we can get.”

Image via ALIVE!/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Alexandria Woman Finds Missing $100K Lottery Ticket — “Four months ago she purchased a ticket using some of her favorite numbers, 2-14-15-17-21, and matched all five winning numbers on March 1, but she only just discovered that fact when she cleaned out her purse recently.” [Zebra]

Beyer Says Economic Warning Signs Troublesome — “It’s been a month since Senate Republicans cruelly allowed Americans’ enhanced unemployment benefits to expire amid a pandemic and economic crisis. Don’t be fooled by the stock market: millions of families are experiencing deep hardship. Warning signs for the economy abound.” [Twitter]

Mayor Gets Sneak Peek at ‘The Spire’ Affordable Housing Complex — “Great opportunity to check out AHC Affordable Housing’s latest housing project in the City under construction and arriving early next year. ‘The Spire’ will be 113 units serving 40% – 60% of Area Median Income.” [Facebook]

Ascend Cycle Wins Northern Virginia Magazine Award — “Did you hear?? We won the Best of NOVA: Cycling Studio 2020  ​We are SO excited to win this honor for a 3rd year in a row!” [Facebook]

Firefighters Raising Funds With Virtual Boot — “Ordinarily at this time of year, the men and women of Alexandria Firefighters, Inc. IAFF Local 2141 would be out around our community working to ‘Fill the Boot’ in support of Muscular Dystrophy Association. Join me in helping them Fill the ‘Virtual’ Boot this year!” [Facebook]

Volunteer Alexandria and Senior Services of Alexandria Need Help — “To meet the increased need due to COVID-19, Senior Services of Alexandria urgently needs 10 more volunteers to help deliver meals to local seniors. Volunteers are asked to commit to delivering meals once a week for three months.” [Facebook]

Today’s Weather — During the day, “Mainly sunny. High 88F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph.” At night, “Partly cloudy. Low 73F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Virginia Quality Mental Health Specialist — “ACPS serves as a Local Coordinator for the City of Alexandria and is a part of the VQ Northern region. The VQ Mental Health Specialist will increase caregivers/teachers/directors use of strategies and practices to promote the social emotional development of infants, toddlers, and preschool-aged children.” [TopSchoolJobs.com]

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The Alexandria Tutoring Consortium has launched a fundraising campaign to continue a virtual program that teaches young children how to read.

The 24-year-old nonprofit needs $22,000 to fund a leveled reading program that started after its personalized literacy tutoring program was shifted online after the pandemic hit the city in March. So far, Burke and Herbert Bank donated $1,000 to kick things off, and donations can be made on the ATC website.

“This has been a trying time,” said ATC Board Chair Yvonne Folkerts, who is also a former chair of the Alexandria School Board. “Yet despite the challenges, our tutors remained dedicated, the parents supported our virtual needs, our staff stayed true to our mission, and the students have benefitted.”

ATC, which uses a University of Virginia curriculum, was tutoring 128 students in its “Book Buddies” program last March. It was able to connect with 102 of those students when the virtual program started in late April. Now, the nonprofit estimates that 84% of those kindergarten and first graders will be reading on grade level.

With the entire school system going virtual this fall, the leveled readers will replace books that are kept in the classroom.

“Our staff has decided leveled readers are the best choice for a virtual program and therefore we intend to find the resources to provide this literacy tool for these young readers,” Folkerts said.

Photo via ATC/Facebook

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ACT for Alexandria has broken fundraising records this year, and next month will celebrate its achievements with its first-ever virtual fall fundraiser.

“There is a lot to celebrate,” Heather Peeler, the CEO of ACT for Alexandria, told ALXnow. “We had our best-ever Spring2ACTion, we raised more than $1 million for the ACT Now Fund, and gave most of it away to 80 organizations, we are partnering with the city on a grocery gift card distribution program and launched a fund to support city employees on the front lines facing financial hardship.”

The Fall Salud and Virtual Celebration will be held for an hour on Wednesday, September 23, from 7 to 8 p.m., and includes performances from local artists and musicians.

The event is still being planned, and all funds will go to ACT for Alexandria.

“Throughout the year, our partners and supports have been extraordinary with the support and care they have shown for our community,” Peeler said. “This is an opportunity to come together and celebrate what we’ve collectively achieved in supporting Alexandrians throughout the pandemic.”

Join ACT for Alexandria for it's first virtual fundraiser on Wednesday, September 23! From the comfort of your own home,…

Posted by ACT for Alexandria on Monday, August 10, 2020

Image via ACT for Alexandria/Facebook

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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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