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West End residents now have a new hub to to take care of food insecurity and other basic living needs.

On Thursday morning (May 26), nonprofit and city leaders cut the ribbon for the ALIVE! West End Food Hub at 510 S. Van Dorn Street in the Van Dorn Station Shopping Center. The brick and mortar location was made possible by funding from the American Rescue Plan.

Residents will now be able to pick up free food five days a week, in addition to personal items, cleaning and school supplies, and connections to other city and federal services.

“I’m very excited about this,” Mayor Justin Wilson said at the ribbon cutting. “It’s addressing a critical need that multiplied exponentially at the beginning of COVID — our food insecurity, but it allows us to try to meet that need long into the future.”

Rolf Blank, is the vice president of the ALIVE! board, which is made up of dozens of representatives from religious congregations.

“For a long time, the board and a member of congregations have been looking for another way to be able to distribute food and interact with our community,” Blank said. “It’s really more than about food. It’s a way for people to interact with our staff.”

The Food Hub is open from noon to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

ALIVE! has given away millions of pounds of food during the pandemic, and needs donations and volunteers.

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Alexandria’s Homegrown Restaurant Group just stumbled across a proverbial goldmine of infant baby formula, and on Friday morning (May 20) they donated 10 cases of Similac Advance to ALIVE!.

It could take months before Alexandria grocery store shelves are stocked with infant formula, as communities around the country are struggling through the shortage.

HRG’s Bill Blackburn was inspired to find the formula after reading a Washington Post article about a restaurant owner who found a stash through his commercial food supply chain.

Blackburn made a call and found that his distributor had 10 cases of Similac Advance. It cost $1,000, which was paid for by HRG, Alexandria Celebrates Women and the Del Ray Business Association.

“Homegrown Restaurant Group is proud to partner with these organizations to provide this much-needed baby formula to ALIVE! during this crisis,” Blackburn said.

ALIVE! Executive Director Jennifer Ayers said that the nonprofit needed the formula and is grateful.

“Once again neighbors have demonstrated that if there’s a need in this community that we can work together to help other neighbors,” Ayers said.

Courtesy photo

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Hermitage Northern Virginia, image courtesy Goodwin House

Alexandria-based Goodwin House Inc., a non-profit organization built around senior living, has acquired the West End senior living community Hermitage Northern Virginia with plans to undergo an expansion in the coming years.

While the current operator of Hermitage will remain in place until August 1, after that the facility will become part of Goodwin House.

Rob Liebreich, President and CEO of Goodwin House, said the acquisition of one not-for-profit of another is unusual for fortuitous because Goodwin House plans to keep staffing and pricing at Hermitage intact.

“It’s unusual for two non-profits to have this interaction,” Liebreich said. “[Hermitage] could have been bought by a developer or sold to a for-profit, but as not for profit, we can keep those residents in mind.”

There are currently around 100 residents in Hermitage, but Liebreich said the plan is to increase that to around 135.

“Going to take a good amount of work, but it’s a good product already and we think we can elevate that in the market,” Liebreich said.

Liebreich said talk about the acquisition started around three years ago. For Hermitage, it will be a chance to take advantage of the deeper well of resources available from the larger Goodwin House organization, which operates facilities in Alexandria and Bailey’s Crossroads. Meanwhile, Liebreich said the acquisition also gives Goodwin House Inc. a chance to expand its mission into middle-income residents.

“We’ll be able to serve more older adults in ways we haven’t been able to,” Liebreich said. “[Hermitage] is at a price point lower than what we currently offer and they offer a different amenity package. We’re excited to learn that model.”

Liebreich said many seniors are stuck in a “middle market” where they don’t qualify for government assistance programs but can’t afford the expenses of many senior living facilities.

Current monthly rates at The Hermitage are:

  • Assisted living rental rates range from $3,675 to $7,660
  • Long term care rental rates range from $9,900 to $13,100
  • Some residents pay additional fees for extra services.

Those rates represent an increase by the current operator, which will take effect in June, but Liebreich said there are no plans to increase the rates above that.

Liebreich said Goodwin House also plans to increase the pay structure for Hermitage staff to offer a “competitive living wage” and offer additional benefits, like an educational program.

The full press release is available below the jump:

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ACT for Alexandria raised $2.5 million for 172 local nonprofits in its 12th annual Spring2ACTion fundraiser on Wednesday (April 27). The fundraiser is the largest single day of giving in Alexandria, and came just short of matching the amount raised last year, ACT CEO Heather Peeler told ALXnow.

“I’m almost speechless in terms of thinking about how to describe just the care and love that people show for our community,” Peeler said shortly after midnight. “This is really about the entire community coming together. It’s about the nonprofits that are doing incredible work that people want to support, the donors who are feeling really generous and the local businesses who see giving back as core to their business. It’s really an all-hands-on-deck effort from across the city.”

The final numbers keep changing, as stragglers will be allowed to donate on the Spring2ACTion website until Sunday, May 1.

The top three recipients were the same as last year: RunningBrooke took in $157,000 from 197 donors, followed by Casa Chirilagua with $114,000 from 313 donors and Friends of Guest House with $112,000 from 180 donors.

Spring2ACTion has raised nearly $19 million over the last 12 years, and awarded $28,000 in prizes to the organizations with the most donors.

The Del Ray Business Association also raised the most of the five competing business associations, raising $20,525 from 90 donors, and final tallies are still be made for participating businesses that contributed 10% of proceeds toward Spring2ACTion.

Spring2ACTion Top 10:

 

 

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Spring2ACTion has broken Alexandria’s single-day fundraising record two years in a row, but can ACT for Alexandria do it again?

The nonprofit wants to raise $2.5 million from 10,000 donors for 171 Alexandria nonprofits and charities — essentially matching the amount raised last year.

While the pandemic might be winding down, the need is greater than ever, told ALXnow.

“There are still so many families struggling to meet their basic needs, whether it’s paying rent, having food or accessing childcare,” Peeler said. “These are all still critical day-to-day needs for our neighbors and Alexandria, and the work that Alexandria nonprofits are doing is as essential now as it was during the height of Covid.”

Giving is set to begin at midnight (Wednesday, April 27) and last for 24 hours.

Last year, the Del Ray Business Association beat the Old Town Business Association, raising $18,466 to Old Town’s $16,272. This year, Peeler and her staff have expanded outreach to the city’s five business associations, which have competed against each other all month by donating portions of sales toward the cause.

The Del Ray Business Association will also hold spontaneous raffles all day Wednesday at Piece Out Del Ray, Taquera Pablano, Pork Barrel BBQ, Holy Cow and The Tiki Bar.

“The outpouring of support from Alexandria’s small business community has been unprecedented,” Peeler said. “They’ve been phenomenal.”

There are also 15 more nonprofits participating this year, Peeler said.

“If there’s a cause you’re interested in, chances are there’s not just one but probably a couple of nonprofits working on that cause,” she said.

The top three recipients last year were RunningBrooke with $165,053.60, followed by Casa Chirilagua with $106,247.34 and Friends of Guest House with $100,715. RunningBrooke and Casa Chirilagua have been in the top three of the leaderboard for two years in a row.

Spring2ACTion has raised $15 million for local nonprofits and charities since its founding 12 years ago. Donations can be as little as $5, are tax deductible and irrevocable.

Via Running Brooke/Facebook

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Elbert Avenue Apartments, image via Google Maps

Alexandria non-profit Community Lodging has announced plans to significantly expand affordable housing in Arlandria-Chirilagua with the redevelopment of a 1940s apartment complex.

Elbert Avenue Apartments, a set of three three-story buildings constructed in the 1940s, currently has 28 units affordable for renters making 60% of the Area Median Income (AMI) — the standard applied for evaluating affordable housing. But these buildings are in rough shape after what Community Lodging called years of “Band-Aid fixes”.

In a release, Community Lodging said the plan is to redevelop the site with 96 units available at various levels of affordability.

“The new property, currently proposed to include 96 apartments, would substantially expand Community Lodging’s impact,” the non-profit said. “The project provides a unique opportunity as Arlandria-Chirilagua faces challenges of rent increases and gentrification due to its location near Amazon HQ2 in Arlington and the upcoming Potomac Yard Metro.”

Community Lodging said affordable housing investments are particularly important for Arlandria-Chirilagua’s majority Latinx community where median household incomes are below 50% of AMI and are a “historically underserved and underinvested community.”

Financing for the project is being sought through a housing tax credit program. Households will be accessible for those at or below 60% of AMI. Of the new units, 20% will be dedicated to households at or below 50% of AMI.

Image via Google Maps

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Inova Health System announced today that it plans to put $1 million in grant funding into non-profits addressing health needs in Alexandria and its neighbors.

The hospital system announced today that applications are open for the 2022 Health Equity Grant program, into which Inova is putting a record $1 million in funding. The grant program helps nonprofit organizations that provide services for under-resourced locals and promote equity.

“In 2021, Inova awarded $240,000 to 14 nonprofit organizations in Northern Virginia through the (then named) Community Health Fund,” Inova said in a release. “With the healthcare inequities experienced by many in our community exacerbated by the global pandemic, Inova nearly quadrupled its grant funds to $1 million and refocused the program to specifically address health equity locally.”

In prior years, organizations such as The Campagna Center in Alexandria and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington received grant funding. Special consideration will be given to eligible nonprofits that are owned and operated by Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), the hospital system said. Applications are available online and due April 6.

“Meeting the healthcare needs of the Northern Virginia community is a priority for Inova, and our community partners are instrumental in helping us identify effective ways to support under-resourced groups,” said Dr. J. Stephen Jones, President and CEO of Inova Health System. “Improving the health of our community is about more than direct healthcare, and we are proud to offer these grants to the wonderful organizations who provide the resources our residents need to thrive.”

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Alexandria nonprofit ALIVE! will conduct six free food distributions throughout the city this month.

No identification is required to pick up the groceries, produce, chicken, eggs and bread.

The food can be found at the following pop-up sites:

  • Friday, March 4, from 4:30 – 6 p.m. — Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center (200 S. Whiting Street)
  • Thursday, March 10, from 4:30 – 6 p.m. — William Ramsay Rec Center (5650 Sanger Avenue)
  • Friday, March 18, from 10:30 – 12:00 p.m. — Old Town Community Church (212 S. Washington Street)
  • Saturday, March 19, from 8:00 – 10:00 a.m. — Fairlington United Methodist Church (3900 King Street)
  • Saturday, March 19, from 10:00 – 12 p.m. — UNCUT Youth (1501 Cameron Street)

There will also be three larger distribution events on Saturday, March 26, from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m:

  • Drive through and walk-up — Cora Kelly Elementary School (3600 Commonwealth Avenue)
  • Drive through — NVCC Alexandria Campus (parking lot B-1 via 500 Dawes Avenue)
  • Walk-up — William Ramsay Recreation Center (5650 Sanger Ave)

ALIVE! has given away millions of pounds of food during the pandemic, and needs donations and volunteers.

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After two years in limbo, the Alexandria Seaport Foundation’s request to open a second floating Seaport Center on the waterfront is going back to City Council for approval next week.

The project was supposed to go to the Planning Commission in April 2020, but got sidelined by the pandemic. On Tuesday, March 8, Council will vote on the second center, which would be adjacent to its current location — the 1,200-square-foot McIlhenny Seaport Center at 0 Thompsons Alley.

Since 1992, the Seaport Foundation has trained hundreds of 16-to-22-year-old at-risk youngsters to become experienced woodworkers, boat builders and carpenters. The expansion would double the number of apprentices, from 15 to 30, and make up for losing its second location with the sale of Robinson Terminal South nearly a decade ago. Apprentices also have to earn their high school equivalency and take outside coursework. They’re paid between $8-$12 an hour for working Monday thru Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The plan for the 1,740 square-foot facility has also gotten the endorsement of the Waterfront Commission.

“The Commission recognizes the significant contribution the Seaport Foundation provides to the community,” the Commission wrote in a letter of support to Council.  “The addition of a second educational seaport center will provide the needed space to meet the increased demand to serve the City’s most vulnerable youth.”

Via Alexandria Seaport Foundation/Instagram

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Alexandria’s Florence King, a 2021 City Council candidate who died in December, has been posthumously awarded Volunteer Alexandria’s top award.

Volunteer Alexandria’s 2021 Volunteers are the Heart of Alexandria awards gala has been canceled due to Covid, but top honors were still announced on Monday (Feb. 15).

King, a 2018 Living Legend of Alexandria, received the Marian Van Landingham Lifetime Achievement Award for consistently serving the community over her lifetime. That work included 25 years as a city election officer, and as chair of the city’s Commission on Employment, chair of Agenda: Alexandria and vice chair of the city’s Historical Resources Commission.

“The donation of time, talents and skills of our community’s volunteers makes Alexandria a better place for all of us,” said Mayor Justin Wilson. “Without volunteers, our hard-working non-profits would not be able to fulfill their missions and we couldn’t do what we do to serve our most vulnerable residents.”

Last year, more than 1,760 people donated 62,560 hours to Visit Alexandria. That’s a value of $1.8 million, said the nonprofit’s Executive Director Marion Brunken.

“It is amazing, how many people serve our community and families in need,” Brunken said.

Awardees

  • Joan White Grassroots Volunteer Service Award — Eldon Boes
  • Joan White Grassroots Volunteer Service Award — Linda Thoms
  • RSVP Volunteer Service Awardee — Barbara Sherlock
  • RSVP Volunteer Service Awardee — Tami Stuckey
  • ASCEND Alexandria Youth Service Volunteer Award — Fatima Eldawah and Ian McDonough
  • Emergency Preparedness Volunteer Service Award — The Alexandria Medical Reserve Corps and the Community Emergency Response Team

There are dozens of volunteer opportunities available in Alexandria, including donation sorting, puppetry instruction and reading to elementary school kids.

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