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It took more than 10 years to dream up and two years to build, and the 370,000-square-foot Potomac Yard headquarters for The Institute for Defense Analyses officially opened this month for more than 1,000 employees in Alexandria’s Potomac Yard neighborhood.

The new office was designed in 2012 by D.C.-based KGD Architecture, and is located a stone’s throw from the incoming Potomac Yard Metro station, which is expected to open this spring.

“The new IDA headquarters will allow more than 1,000 employees to use mass transit and be within easy reach of the Pentagon, IDA’s primary client,” the nonprofit said in a press release.

The property includes a two-story lobby, a courtyard with views of the D.C. skyline and a “robust” art collection for the public on street-facing spaces. There is also an auditorium that seats 300 people, as well as breakout rooms, a green room, large conference rooms and a multimedia recording studio.

IDA said that the property also takes the health of staff into account.

“For IDA – a non-profit dedicated to answering the most challenging U.S. security and science policy questions – safeguarding the health of staff and staying up and operational under hazardous conditions was critical,” IDA said in the release. “The design team deployed an array of resilience-building strategies, including interventions aimed at combatting the spread of infectious diseases. The implemented measures include enhanced filtration, ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI), humidification, and ceiling fan design for increased circulation, as well as 3D modeling of epidemiological scenarios and space usage patterns.”

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Rebuilding Together DC Alexandria has been chosen to receive a $1.6 million grant to reduce housing related hazards to 120 homes in the city.

RTA is one of  three nonprofits in Virginia to get the multi-year funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s $104.7 million package. There were 60 similar organizations that were awarded revitalization funds.

“By providing these grants, HUD makes it clear that ensuring healthy and safe homes for communities across our nation is a priority,” HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge said in a release. “HUD is working every day to keep families safe from home health hazards like lead paint because for many Americans, their home is a primary determinate of their health, and that is why HUD is committed to protecting families from these hazards and to providing healthy and sustainable housing for all Americans.”

RTA was founded in 1986, and is among the 130+ Rebuilding Together affiliates. The nonprofit has dedicated more than $8.8 million toward local revitalization efforts to homeowners in need, and 28,000 volunteers have donated their time and energy on more than 2,200 projects.

Via RTA/Facebook

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Alexandria nonprofit ALIVE! is launching a reusable bag drive later this month to help residents get free food and reduce waste.

ALIVE has given away millions of pounds of food to city residents since the pandemic started, and the reusable bags are also intended to bring awareness to the city’s new 5 cent plastic bag tax. The bag tax went into effect on Jan. 1.

These bags and their contents will then be sorted and redistributed to the food insecure in Alexandria at our on-site distributions and eventually, our food center,” ALIVE! said in a release. “When clients return to the next ALIVE! event, they bring back the bag for another, creating a closed loop and hopefully reducing the waste that comes with plastic or paper bags.”

Donors should drop off the bags at the ALIVE! food warehouse at 801 South Payne Street between Friday, Jan. 14 and Monday, Jan. 17.

The next ALIVE! food distribution will be conducted at three sites on Saturday, Jan. 29. The event will be from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. at Cora Kelly Elementary School (3600 Commonwealth Avenue), Northern Virginia Community College (500 Dawes Avenue), and William Ramsay Recreation Center (5650 Sanger Avenue).

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It was a warm holiday for Friends of Guest House residents in Alexandria, as a local realtor more than doubled her goal by receiving more than 130 sets of new pajamas and warm socks from the community.

The Friends of Guest House reentry programs help women transition back to the community from prison, and the pajamas and socks were given to 30 women in both of the nonprofit’s facilities.

“It was amazing,” said Kathy Goode, a program assistant at Friends of Guest House, who delivered the presents on Christmas day. “They were ecstatic. Most of them put on their pajamas and wore them for the day.”

Maureen Clyne wanted to deliver at least 65 sets of pajamas and just as many pairs of socks, which is about how much she was able to get a few years ago. After a story with ALXnow, she says that her office at Coldwell Banker Realty in Old Town and her Del Ray home were deluged with donated gifts.

“A lot of times there’s not a lot of thought and attention given to previously incarcerated women,” Clyne said. “A lot of them are coming out with their prison clothes, they don’t have a whole lot, and pajamas are something everyone can relate to. It’s much more personal than writing a check. Everyone likes new pajamas.”

The remaining pajamas and socks have been stored away to give to new residents as they enter the residential program in 2022.

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A number of local nonprofits are rolling up their sleeves to increase outreach for COVID-19 vaccines for children with families ages 5-11.

The “Sleeves Up, ALX: COVID-19 Vaccine Partnership Program” is a collaboration between ACT for Alexandria and the Alexandria Health Department, which dispersed $145,657 in grant funding to increase awareness of booster shots with populations disproportionately affected by the virus and provide information for young families.

“These organizations bring that critical message to our underserved communities by meeting people where they are and in the language they prefer,” said Natalie Talis, AHD’s population health manager. “Our residents deserve access to life-saving information and vaccines.”

The following nonprofits received grant funds:

“These organizations have the trusted relationships, innovative ideas and know how that will enable us to reach neighbors who are most at-risk,” said ACT’s President and CEO Heather Peeler.

The program started last month and will run until March 2022.

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Earlier this year, the City of Alexandria dedicated some of its American Rescue Plan Act funding to a program that would guarantee a basic income, but now one of the non-profits working on the pilot said it’s hit some delays with no estimate of when the pilot will start.

The pilot program is now called, in a sort of transparent backronym, Alexandria’s Recurring Income for Success and Equity (ARISE). It will focus on 150 families who will receive a $500 monthly cash payment for 24 months, with no strings attached on its use. Eligibility has been set at 50% of the area median income or below.

The Department of Community & Human Services (DCHS) has been overseeing the pilot in cooperation with Bruhn Morris Foundation and ACT for Alexandria, two local non-profits. ACT for Alexandria said in an email that “while great progress has been made” there have also been some delays.

“Enrollment has been postponed and an estimated start date for applications is not yet available,” ACT for Alexandria said. “DCHS is in the process of securing a research partner to study and report on the outcomes of the pilot and to identify a partner to disburse the funds.”

ACT for Alexandria said the hope is to start the program sometime in spring 2022.

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A local realtor is hosting a pajama party this month for Friends of Guest House residents.

The nonprofit’s reentry programs help women transition back to the community from prison. The pajamas and cozy socks will go to up to 70 women affiliated with the organization.

Realtor Maureen Clyne is leading the effort, and in a recent social media post wrote that Del Ray Cafe has donated 30 pairs of pajamas and socks. It’s her second time collecting pajamas for Friends of Guest House, and she was able to get 65 sets of pajamas donated in 2018.

“Everybody deserves a new pair of pajamas on Christmas morning,” Clyne told ALXnow. “My goal is 100 pairs of pajamas and socks by December 21. I’m at 32 sets right now.”

Donations of cozy socks and L-3XL pajamas can be dropped off at Coldwell Banker Realty, 310 King Street. Pickups can also be arranged by calling or texting 703-967-8884.

Friends of Guest House got a financial boost recently on Giving Tuesday by raising $30,300, and surpassing its goal by more than $10,000. Last year, the nonprofit reported 56 women participating in its six-month residential program. It has helped more than 4,000 women transition from incarceration since it was founded in 1974.

Sapan Patel/Unsplash

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After being canceled last year, the 50th annual Campagna Center Scottish Christmas Walk Parade is back on Saturday, Dec. 4.

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) will be the grand marshal at Saturday’s parade, which begins at 11 a.m. at St. Asaph and Queen Streets and ends in front of City Hall.

In the parade, dozens of Scottish clans march to “Scotland The Brave” and other favorites as played by the City of Alexandria Pipes and Drums.

While the main attraction, the parade is usually the proverbial cherry on top of a weekend caked with Scottish-themed events that historically generates approximately $250,000 in revenues such for the Campagna Center’s Early Learning Center at St. James, it’s New Neighbors program and Building Better Futures program, among others.

The festivities begin on Friday at 6:30 p.m. with the Taste of Scotland scotch tasting, which will be held in the newly renovated Atrium building (227 S. Washington Street).

The event is sold out.

Attendees are asked to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19, which includes a photo of a CDC vaccination card or a confirmation email from a negative test result.

“Guests who do not bring proof of vaccination/test results will not be allowed into the venue,” the Campagna Center said. “To expedite the check-in process, you may email a photo of your vaccination card to [email protected] by December 1, 2021.”

The festival is not yet back to full strength, as cancellations still include the annual historic homes tours and the Campagna Center’s heather and greens sale.

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It’s Giving Tuesday, and a number of Alexandria businesses are donating a percentage of sales to nonprofits in partnership with the Old Town Business Association.

The following businesses within the association are participating:

  • AR Workshop Alexandria, 1212 King Street
  • Augie’s Mussel House, 1106 King Street
  • Bishop Boutique, 815 King Street
  • Emmy Squared Pizza, 124 King Street
  • Enchanted Florist, 139 S. Fairfax Street
  • fibre space, Beneficiary – Project Knitwell, 1319 Prince Street
  • Holy Cow, Beneficiary – Casa Chirilagua, 2312 Mt Vernon Ave
  • Lilly Pulitizer, Beneficiary – Medstreet, 1123 King Street
  • Lucky Knot, 101 King Street
  • Nerds to Go, 321 S. Washington Street
  • Penny Post, 1201 King Street
  • Pork Barrel BBQ, Beneficiary – Carpenters Shelter, 2312 Mt Vernon Ave
  • Red Barn Mercantile, 1117 King Street
  • Salon DeZen, 118 N. Fayette Street
  • She’s Unique Boutique, 205 King Street
  • Shop Made in Virginia, 1121 King Street
  • Sonoma Cellar, 207 King Street
  • Sushi Bar, Beneficiary – Neighborhood Health, 2312 Mt Vernon Ave
  • Sweet Fire Donnas, Beneficiary – Alive, 510 John Carlyle Street
  • Tequila & Taco, Beneficiary – Animal Welfare League of Alexandria, 540 John Carlyle Street
  • The Dog Park, 705 King Street, Beneficiary – Project Second Chance
  • The Hive, 315 Cameron Street
  • The Hour Shop, 1015 King Street, Beneficiary – Animal Welfare League of Alexandria
  • The Shoe Hive, 127 S. Fairfax Street
  • The Warehouse Restaurant, 214 King Street
  • Three Sisters Boutique, Beneficiary – Medstreet, 213 King Street
  • Twist Boutique, 109 N. Fairfax Street
  • Whiskey & Oyster, Beneficiary – American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, 301 John Carlyle Street

Unless specified, funds from these businesses will go to MedStreet, The Dream Project, The Potomac Conservancy and The Spitfire Club.

The event is part of Shop Small Week in Alexandria, which runs until Dec. 2..

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Alexandria non-profit ALIVE! is looking for help to put together Thanksgiving baskets for locals in need.

The non-profit is looking to fill 150 baskets by Sunday, Nov. 7.

ALIVE! needs the following items:

  • Canned pumpkin
  • Canned yams
  • Corn
  • Cornbread mix
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Gravy
  • Canned or packaged turkey or mushrooms
  • Instant mashed potatoes
  • Sweetened condensed milk
  • Green beans
  • Mac and cheese
  • Pie crust
  • Stuffing

Donations can be dropped off tomorrow (Saturday) from 9 a.m. to noon at the ALIVE! food warehouse (801 S. Payne Street).

Photo via Alive!/Facebook

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