Alexandria, VA

Updated 9:30 p.m. — A UMDGC representative noted that the program is available for staff, not for residents. The article and headline have been updated

Alexandria senior care facility Goodwin House — a non-profit organization offering housing for seniors — has announced a new partnership with the University of Maryland Global Campus that will allow staff and their families access to affordable college degrees.

“The alliance brings together [University of Maryland’s] pioneering online degree programs and commitment to low cost, accessible higher education and [Goodwin House’s] commitment to expand support for staff who want to grow their skills and credentials,” Goodwin House said in a press release.

Goodwin House manages two locations: one in Alexandria’s West End at 4800 Fillmore Ave and one at Bailey’s Crossroads in Fairfax County.

The partnership is the first of its kind for UMDGC. The program will allow the nearly 1,000 employees at Goodwin House, along with their spouses and dependents, to waive the university’s application fee and take classes at discounted tuition rates.

“Goodwin House’s mission focuses on older adults and also on those who support their success – our employees,” said Rob Liebreich, President and CEO of Goodwin House, in the press release. “As part of our growing dedication to our staff to enhance their skills, we are ecstatic to align with the world-renowned University of Maryland Global Campus and make online college education more affordable for our staff.”

The classes will be available entirely online, UMD said, with discounts on digital resources.

Photo courtesy Goodwin House

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Senior Services of Alexandria has been seriously impacted by the pandemic, and two new initiatives will help the nonprofit in its mission to help deliver meals and services to the city’s older residents.

The annual Senior Services gala was canceled, leaving a $135,000 hole. Consequently, the SSA virtual auction started on July 19 and runs until July 25, and items include gift cards, an Apple Watch Series 5 and a vacation in the Outer Banks.

“I need money and volunteers,” said SSA Executive Director Mary Lee Anderson. “The basics. We’ve applied for every grant out there that we remotely qualify for. We are scrounging, because we have to make up for a lack of a gala.”

Anderson said residents can also donate their old cars to Meals on Wheels Through America, and that SSA will get 70% of the proceeds when the donor selects SSA as the participating program.

“In February, we were delivering 900 meals per week,” Anderson said. “We’re now delivering upward of 2,500 meals per week, and we have fewer volunteers.”

Anderson added, “There was never a question of if we could do this, but how we will do this. We can’t stop these services because people will die. When you have something so basic, you don’t question it.

Photo via Senior Services of Alexandria/Facebook

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The Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority (ARHA) is planning to sponsor COVID-19 testing later this week.

“ARHA will be sponsoring COVID-19 testing for residents of Ladrey (300 Wythe Street) and Annie B. Rose (399 Pendleton Street) buildings on Thursday, July 16, from 8-11 a.m. in the parking lot behind the building,” said Rose Williams Boyd, spokesperson for the organization.

Both Annie B. Rose House and Ladrey Senior Highrise Apartments are senior housing locations.

The testing is part of a joint partnership between ARHA, the City, the Alexandria Health Department and Neighborhood Health. Local seniors have been particularly vulnerable to the virus, with all but one of the city’s 57 deaths being locals over 50. The majority of those deaths have been in long term care facilities.

Boyd said there will be no cost for the testing with 275 kits available. If more testing is needed, Boyd said it could be continued on Saturday, July 18.

While there was early frustration from residents at some of the measures ARHA took to isolate residents in the early stages of the pandemic, some have since praised the organization for decisive action in response to COVID-19.

Photo via ARHA

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Alexandria’s annual program providing fans or air conditioning for low-income seniors is coming back. This year, the city said the focus is ensuring seniors are comfortable staying home to avoid exposure to coronavirus.

“The City’s Division of Aging and Adult Services’ Senior Cool Care Program provides assistance for seniors ages 60 years or older who need cooling in their homes,” the city said in a press release, “especially while seniors are encouraged to stay home as much as possible to avoid potential severe illness from COVID-19.”

The seniors must be at least 60 years old, meet income eligibility requirements and must be residents of the City of Alexandria to apply for the program — though they could be a homeowner or a renter.

The program provides seniors with electric fans and, in some cases, room air conditioning units, according to Senior Services of Alexandria.

Seniors interested in applying for the program can email [email protected] or call 703 746 5999 for more information.

Staff photo by Vernon Miles

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COVID-19 has meant the cancellation or postponement of a number of events and services, and Senior Services of Alexandria has finally canceled its most popular event of the year.

The Senior Services of Alexandria gala, which was initially supposed to be held in March, has finally been canceled. The gala usually accommodates hundreds of guests to honor a few select Alexandrians who help the senior community.

“This was a tough decision,” said Mary Lee Anderson, SSA’s executive director. “However, our priority now is to continue to serve the city’s most vulnerable population — our older adults — with programs that are keeping them safe and healthy.”

SSA is now delivering nearly 2,500 meals each week, a large increase from the 900 weekly deliveries in February, according to an SSA release.

SSA Board ChairLaurie Blackburn said that donations from gala sponsors have been appreciated.

“We are very thankful for the generosity of our Gala sponsors and donors for their continued support of SSA during this critical time,” Blackburn said in a statement. “Your donations will allow SSA to continue responding to the increased need for services to the senior population.”

Photo by Elizabeth-Bennett Parker

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Local seniors who once marched for Civil Rights rallied over the last week to show their support for a new generation they see as carrying on the torch in an ongoing fight against racism and injustice.

Seniors at both Goodwin House communities — in Alexandria (4800 Fillmore Avenue) and Bailey’s Crossroads (3440 S Jefferson Street) — that couldn’t attend local vigils and rallies decided to host some of their own in their facilities.

Staff said at in Alexandria nearly 80 residents and staff gathered in our courtyard area for a silent vigil held to honor George Floyd, whose death in Minneapolis sparked international protests. At the Bailey’s Crossroads, residents couldn’t leave the facility but made signs that decorated the nearby street to support the Black Lives Matter movement.

At the Alexandria location, a chaplain offered a prayer and song, followed by 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence. Staff said the ceremony was broadcast on the internal TV channel for those residents are who are unable or uncomfortable leaving their apartments.

The vigils and surrounding activities started with a group of advocates in the Bailey’s Crossroads facility called the Silver Panther Huddles.

“We started after the Women’s March on Washington, to do advocacy works,” said Carol Lewis, one of the organizers and a resident of the Bailey’s Crossroads facility. “One of the women in that group had the idea of doing something to honor George Floyd, but she was in quarantine. She had to stay in her apartment and couldn’t take it over, but word got passed along to the rest of the women in the huddle.”

Protesting injustice is something many of the residents of Goodwin House were familiar with long before they moved into the senior-care facility.

“We had people in our 80s, or in our 90s, and some were some of the people here were working on Civil Rights things in the ’40s and ’50s,” said Margaret Sullivan, one of the lead organizers of the vigil. “We had people who had been at the March on Washington when MLK spoke, but we also had with us some of our younger staff members who have come to the United States as children and were both participating in their own right and watching people who had done it before. We were in a sense keeping on with the work and passing it on.”

Lewis said many of those in Goodwin House spent their formative years protesting. Lewis recalled her own involvement with the Poor People’s March on Washington and traveling, against the wishes of her parents, to anti-war protests in the ’60s.

“Many of the women on the huddle and live here were part of the earlier protests and the Civil Rights movements,” Lewis said. “One of the first things Margaret [Sullivan] did when she opened the vigil was to ask about people who did this work in the ’40s and there were a couple of hands, more from the ’60s.”

Sullivan said that when the director of Goodwin House found out that the residents at the Bailey’s Crossroads facility were planning a vigil, they stepped in to help coordinate the activity with the Alexandria location. Sullivan noted that it was also a chance for employees at the facility who have been unable to attend the marches in D.C. to show their support.

“A member of the staff said afterward how pleased she was to see this at her work,” Sullivan said. “Another member of the staff was very clear before we started said that she, as a young black woman, wanted to go down to the (National) Mall and the White House and march. She and many of the other staff members who had been involved in Goodwin House and Civil Rights things for years had not gone because they didn’t want to bring the virus back, but they were as determined to be a part of this and to keep silence and honor George Floyd and speak out for justice as we were.”

Lewis said that many old residents said similarities to the fights they experienced in their lifetime, from Civil Rights to demonstrations in support of the gay, lesbian and transgender communities.

“What I sensed this time around, with these vigils and protests, there seems to be a real chance for change,” Lewis said. “Of course I thought that in the ’60s too.”

Sullivan joked that many seniors wanted to break out of the facility and march nearby in support, but that concerns about the still lingering COVID-19 — which has been particularly fatal in Alexandria’s senior care facilities — kept them from doing so.

“We’re all old and creaky, a good number of us are in walkers and wheelchairs, but for me and for a lot of the people here, it was a chance to do something — to be involved again,” Lewis said, “and to let people know that this didn’t happen yesterday. Racism isn’t new and it wasn’t new in the ’60s either. It goes way back. It was a very somber experience, but quite touching.”

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Morning Notes

High School Student Assaulted Walking Home — “The assault occurred near the intersection of Russell Road and Rosecrest Avenue in the Del Ray/Rosemont neighborhood. The victim was a member of the T.C. Williams High School baseball team.” [Alex Times]

Officers Complain of Toxic Work Culture at Alexandria Police Department — “There are employees, including some who resigned after allegedly being subjected to retribution, who blame Chief Michael L. Brown for establishing an environment without discipline or accountability, where misconduct is swept under the rug. They say that under Chief Brown’s leadership, problems have gotten worse, which has fueled retirements and resignations from the department.” [Alex Times]

Vigil for Victims of Police Brutality Tonight in Arlandria — “Let’s join in solidarity with our Black community. Please bring a candle, poster, or other tribute to honor the lives lost at the hands of police. We will gather in the parking lot behind TWU’s building at 3801 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22305. For everyone’s safety, please wear a face covering.” [Facebook]

fibrespace Gives May 31 Profits to ‘Innocence Project’ — ‘Thanks to your shopping, we sent almost a thousand dollars today to this incredible organization who is working to exonerate the innocent and reform our broken criminal justice system.” [Facebook]

George Mason Elementary Donates Books to Community Lodgings — “The principal, Mr. O., was so generous to collect the books and spread them around the lawn at Fifer so that families could select books while maintaining a safe distance from one another.” [Facebook]

Virtual Concert Saturday Benefiting Senior Services of Alexandria — “100 percent of your contributions to the Löwball virtual tip jar for our June 6th webcast will go to support SSA Meals on Wheels program.” [Facebook]

Wesley Housing Closes on Affordable Housing Near Huntington Metro — “Located at 2317 Huntington Avenue, The Arden will be a seven-story building at the intersection of Huntington Avenue and Biscayne Drive.” [Zebra]

New Job: Brand and Public Relations Specialist — “The Specialist, Brand and Public Relations is a core member of the SHRM Brand and Communication team with responsibilities to support national TV commercials, brand activations, PR campaigns and earned media to amplify SHRM’s thought leadership and reputation.” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

Alexandria Family Recovers From COVID-19 — “In early March, 18-year-old Ana Murphy came down with a sinus infection. But as her symptoms persisted, her parents, Gregg and Monica Murphy, both became ill. It was then that the family began to suspect that this was not a normal seasonal virus.” [Gazette]

Beyer Criticizes Maskless President Trump at Memorial Day Ceremony — “It’s true today and every day: the President should lead by example instead of ignoring health precautions designed to protect the public.” [Twitter]

Pork Barrel BBQ Drops Off 300 Meals at COVID-19 Testing Sites — “This afternoon we dropped off 300 meals at the Landmark & Cora Kelly COVID testing sites. One of our more memorable jobs that’s for sure. THANK YOU to all the emergency responders and volunteers administering tests today, we appreciate you!” [Facebook]

Inova COVID Hospital Fund Gets $100,000 Contribution — “Twig’s contribution to this fund helps Alexandria meet the escalating needs of COVID-19 patients by providing for additional staffing, personal protection equipment for our front line heroes, specialized equipment for the unique needs of COVID-19 patients, increased services for homebound families, and other resources to address the rapidly changing situation.” [Zebra]

Here’s How to Get Rental Assistance in Alexandria — “Applications received through Friday, May 29 will be reviewed as part of the first application cycle, with priority given to applicants in the Tier 1 income range. Applications received after May 29 will be reviewed on a rolling basis contingent on funding availability.” [Facebook]

Jason and Loren Yates Donate $12K in Face Masks to Local Groups — “The masks were sent to the volunteers in local service organizations including Senior Services of Alexandria delivering Meals on Wheels, ALIVE, Carpenter’s Shelter, Casa Chirilagua, and the Grace Episcopal Food Bank.” [Zebra]

New Job: Alexandria Health Department Communications Officer — “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. They plan, design, implement, and evaluate AHD public relations, publications, and promotional health and service communications.” [Indeed]

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Mask makers, translators and grocery bag packers are just a few of the opportunities that Volunteer Alexandria has identified around the city.

“Every week, we need more than 100 volunteers to help our community to help people in need,” Volunteer Alexandria Executive Director Marion Brunken told ALXnow.

The following volunteer opportunities are now available:

Additionally, Volunteer Alexandria needs help making face masks.

Sewers needed to make masks. If you have a sewing machine — your sewing skills are needed to make masks. Have a sewing…

Posted by Volunteer Alexandria on Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Photo via DASH/Facebook

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A planned senior care facility called The Landing in Potomac Yard is returning to the city for approval of some changes to reflect new city guidelines.

Silverstone Healthcare Co. is applying to the City of Alexandria to increase the size of a project at 2602 Main Line Blvd., originally approved in 2018, from 150 units up to 190 units in one building but with an overall decrease in units.

The plan had been to build two buildings with 336 units, but changes in the designs and in local ordinances have led to a series of changes to that plan to make some of the spaces more flexible, leaving the project with a new total of 313 units.

“Since the original approvals, the applicant has refined the unit mix for Building 1 to replace the assisted living units on the 7th through 9th floors with 40 independent living units that can be converted back and forth to assisted living units,” Silverstone Health Co. said in the application. “89 assisted living units and 34 memory care units will continue to be provided on the 2nd through 6th floors and will remain assisted living units. The Applicant will be commencing the construction of Building 1 in the near future. The Applicant is now requesting an increase in the number of independent living units within the project to maintain the units originally contemplated and approved for Building 2 and allow the final site plan and building permits to proceed for that building.”

After the initial approval of the project. Alexandria changed a zoning definition from “home for the elderly” to “continuum of care facility” and the new application reflects a similar revision in the project.

Concept rendering via Silverstone Senior Living

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Morning Notes

Family Says Lack of Information Contributed to Nurse’s Death — “Some family members who have loved ones at Silverado are also upset, complaining they are being kept in the dark. A woman whose mother is at the facility asked that News4 conceal her identity. She says families need more information about the outbreak such as how many staff and residents have tested positive and how many have died.” [NBC4]

Beyer Blames President for U.S. Coronavirus Outbreak— “Tens of thousands of Americans – over 73,000 – have now died from a pandemic that has hit our country so much harder because this President ignored warnings from health officials over and over again. This is so dangerous.” [Twitter]

City Partners With AT&T and FirstNet so 911 Dispatchers Can Work at Home — “Under this innovative approach, Alexandria’s remote dispatchers are using equipment that includes a laptop, headset and smartphone, FirstNet hotspot, mobile router with computer aided dispatch, and other necessary hardware. The hotspot with its FirstNet connection is critical to the operation.” [FirstNet]

Former Alexandria Teacher Adopting Child in India When COVID-19 Struck — “The Mosiers flew to India in March to pick up their daughter. The country locked down before they could leave.” [New York Times]

Volunteer Alexandria Puts Out Call For Face Masks — “Homemade Masks Needed! With personal protective equipment in critically short supply. Catholic Charities urgently needs masks for staff, volunteers, and the vulnerable populations they serve.” [Facebook]

Jefferson Houston School Introduces Principal Candidate Finalists — “Our search for the next Head of School for the Jefferson-Houston PreK-8 IB School is down to two finalists: Dr. Ingrid Bynum and Dr. John McCain. Both candidates have considerable experience in the education field.” [ACPS]

ICYMI: Taverna Cretekou is Open for Carryout — “Call us 703-548-8688 for daily specials and for placing orders. Limited menu , reduced prices, half off for all the wines and free dessert with each entree!” [Facebook]

Watch: Alexandria Symphony Orchestra Trio Performs at Guest House — “The Alexandria Symphony Brass Trio featuring Maestro Jim Ross, horn, Gil Hoffer, trumpet and Bryan Bourne, trombone thrills residents of Goodwin House retirement community with a socially distanced concert in the courtyard. ASO’s first live in-person concert since February. Sunshine and live music– you could see the smiles even under the masks!” [Facebook]

Virtual Funeral Sunday for Hard Times Cafe Founder — “The family of Fred Parker, an Alexandria Living Legend who founded the iconic Hard Times Cafe in Alexandria, Virginia, is planning a virtual ZOOM Memorial on Sunday, May 10, at 3 p.m.” [Zebra]

NOVA Juvenile Detention Center adapts to COVID-19 — “The center took certain precautions early on to prevent the virus from spreading within the facility, McNair said. In the first week of March, staff increased cleaning regimens for the facility. Over the next few weeks, the center restricted all in-person visits to the facility.” [Alex Times]

Family Beats Quarantine Blues With Themed Dinners — “The first week, their 11-year-old daughter chose to theme the meal after one of Netflix’s biggest social distancing-era hits: the documentary series, ‘Tiger King.’ The second week, their son chose a sports theme. The three kids wore their favorite jerseys, Organek dressed up as a soccer mom and her husband, who has gone all out for every family dinner, dressed up as a 1970s news anchor to interview his kids.” [Alex Times]

New Job: Grant Officer Position Pays $50K-$60K — “Responsible for managing donor client relationships and the international/domestic grant making programs they support. In addition to providing excellent customer service, the officer will be responsible for maintaining expertise in international grant making, donor-advised fund and restricted fund regulations, anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing (AML/CTF) regulations and practices along with CAF America validation protocols.” [Indeed]

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Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday delivered personal protective equipment to the Woodbine Rehabilitative and Health Center in Alexandria — the first installment of PPE that Pence says will be delivered to 15,400 nursing homes around the country.

Pence and his staff, in addition to Woodbine administrators, were not wearing protective face coverings for the visit and spoke within six feet of administrators. Pence did not step foot inside the facility, which has reported a number of symptomatic COVID-19 patients.

“The President wanted me to be here today to help deliver these gowns and gloves and supplies and it’s the first two installments that will be delivered literally around the country,” Pence said. “Early in the coronavirus epidemic, we recognized that the risk to seniors, particularly those with serious underlying health conditions, is very real.”

Woodbine administrator Donna Shaw thanked Pence for the support.

“We have a fabulous team inside and they work hard every day, not just during the coronavirus. They well deserve praise for everything that they’re doing, and we appreciate and are honored that you’ve come here today,” Shaw said.

Mayor Justin Wilson (D) told ALXnow that regardless of whether Pence wore a mask he appreciated the support.

“We are appreciative of any Federal assistance to support the PPE needs of our Long Term Care Facilities. They have been especially hard hit during this outbreak. We look forward to additional Federal assistance to expand testing, support the housing and food insecurity of our residents, keep our small businesses afloat and protect critical local government services.”

large percentage of COVID-19 deaths in the city occurred at long-term care facilities, and three more deaths were reported today of women in their 80s who died of COVID-19.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise Americans to avoid close contact and to wear a protective face covering while outdoors.

The vice president has been widely criticized for recently visiting the Mayo Clinic without wearing a cloth face covering. On Sunday, Pence said that he should have worn a mask, according to CNN.

Former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign released the following statement from Biden for President spokesperson Ike Hajinazarian.

“With today’s visit, our heroes on the frontlines are getting a photo-op instead of meaningful efforts to produce and deliver the proper safety equipment they need to combat this pandemic. Now, months into this crisis, nurses still say access to PPE is ‘sporadic.’ With Joe Biden as President, our frontline workers won’t have to worry about getting the supplies they need to stay safe and save lives.”

The Biden campaign also released comments from Virginia’s Democratic Congressional delegation, which severely criticized the Trump administration for its attempt to overturn the Affordable Care Act in the Supreme Court.

“Countless families in Northern Virginia rely on the Affordable Care Act — either directly for their care or indirectly through the protections it grants for younger Virginians and Virginians with pre-existing conditions,” Northern Virginia Congressman Don Beyer (D-8th) stated. “It should not need to be said, but apparently it does: the height of a global pandemic is when our leaders should be expanding our access to health care, not seeking to rip it away. President Trump should end this reckless lawsuit.”

Photo via C-SPAN

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