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Help A-SPAN Win a New Van

by | June 22, 2011 at 10:50 am | 1,629 views | 26 Comments

The Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network is asking Arlingtonians to help them win a new van.

A-SPAN is one of 500 finalists in the Toyota 100 Cars for Good contest, which is awarding a new vehicle to 100 charitable organizations over the course of 100 days. Each day, the public can vote for one of five nonprofits via Toyota’s Facebook page.

Today, A-SPAN is up against organizations like a Florida arts center, an Illinois animal shelter, a Connecticut HIV/AID clinic and the large, nationwide service organization City Year.

“We are very excited to participate in this contest and have the chance to win a new van for outreach. We are placing more people into housing than ever before, but the first step for each of these formerly homeless people was an A-SPAN outreach staff person finding and building a connection with them,” A-SPAN Executive Director Kathleen Sibert said in a statement. “A new van will help us with this, please encourage all of your friends to vote too!”

A-SPAN has also released a video (after the jump) explaining how a van would help the organization. Vote for them here.


With Shelter Closed, Arlington’s Homeless Look for New Places to Sleep

by | April 1, 2011 at 3:26 pm | 1,954 views | 56 Comments

Arlington County’s emergency winter shelter is now closed, and the dozens of homeless individuals who stay there will be looking for a new place to sleep tonight.

About 50 percent of the shelter’s clients will stay in Arlington County over the summer, according to shelter director Olivia Payton. Most others will go to Fairfax, Bailey’s Crossroads, Alexandria and the District, where shelters remain open year-round.

Those who do stay in Arlington will sleep in parks, under bridges, and in wooded encampments. John Rotalsky, who slept at the shelter last night, said he will likely sleep in an encampment near Gateway Park and the Mt. Vernon Trail in Rosslyn tonight.

“We can go to the national parkland, stay there at night, and pack out in the daytime,” he said. “They let us do that.”

Rotalsky, whose religious convictions are documented in a recent online video, said the service provided to the homeless in Arlington “is a huge blessing.”

“Arlington County is just light years better than anything else in this area,” Rotalsky said. “I have not been threatened in the three and a half months that I have been living there. No one has tried to shake me down or rob me, and that’s normal stuff in D.C. shelters.”

The county mandates that the shelter only remain open from Nov. 1 to March 31. The Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network (A-SPAN), which runs the shelter, has been pushing for a year-round shelter in Arlington for some time now. Such a shelter is needed, especially during spring cold snaps and summer heatwaves, they say. The County Board formally set the goal of establishing a new, year-round shelter last month. First, however, a location for the new shelter must be found.

While A-SPAN does not operate a shelter in the warmer weather months, it still provides services via volunteers who travel the county bringing food and supplies to homeless individuals and through its Opportunity Place headquarters in Shirlington. A-SPAN also tries to place homeless individuals into permanent housing, but those resources are limited.

Rotalsky says he looks forward to the day when the county is able to open a year-round shelter.

“It’s a real treat staying here at the A-SPAN shelter,” he said. “I don’t want to leave.”

Flickr pool photo by Chris Rief

Arlington Young Dems Prep for Charity Date Auction

by | March 21, 2011 at 3:47 pm | 1,298 views | 33 Comments

The Arlington Young Democrats are preparing for their biggest night of the year, not counting election night.

The Young Dems will be holding their 10th annual charity date auction Wednesday from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. at Clarendon Grill (1101 N. Highland Street). More than 100 people have RSVPed for the event, which will feature “over twenty of Arlington’s sexiest bachelors and bachelorettes,” as well as celebrity auctionees Rep. Jim Moran, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, former Rep. Tom Perriello and former DNC Chair Terry McAuliffe.

AYD has released YouTube videos featuring two of its non-celebrity auctionees. Kat, above, is a personal trainer who says she can squat 175 pounds, enough to (probably) lift her date. Be forewarned, gents: you don’t want to pay for her meal with a Groupon. Chris, seen here, will take a lucky lady on a Potomac River sailboat ride with wine and cheese. He expects to fetch at least $10 to $15 at auction.

The auction will benefit the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network. Attendees are encouraged to bring a new pair of men’s boxer shorts — in large, XL or XXL sizes — to donate at the door for a raffle ticket.

A-SPAN Holding Christmas Eve Dinner for Local Homeless

by | December 23, 2010 at 2:31 pm | 640 views | 3 Comments

The Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network is holding a Christmas Eve dinner for homeless individuals at the county’s Emergency Winter Shelter in Courthouse.

The non-profit issued the following press release about the event.

A-SPAN staff, local volunteers and community religious and business organizations have joined forces to serve a festive dinner at Arlington’s Emergency Winter Shelter (EWS), on Christmas Eve. A stuffed turkey has been donated by Temple Rodef Shalom and an assortment of pies and cookie plates for dessert has been donated by Harris Teeter. Dinner set up will begin at 5:30 pm and served to clients from 6:00 to 7:30 pm. The EWS is located at 2049 N. 15th Street, across from the Arlington Courthouse.

Early frigid temperatures have filled the EWS to an average capacity of 60 clients with over 3,000 bed nights so far this season, which began on November 1st and runs through March 31st, 2011. When temperatures reach 32 degrees, the shelter remains open for clients 24 hours. Regular EWS hours are 4:00 pm to 9:00 am, with dinner, showers, social services and breakfast provided.

A-SPAN provides life-sustaining services for Arlington’s homeless, which include daily street outreach, drop-in services such as showers, laundry, and food, and a bagged meal program serving up to 80 individuals 365 days a year. In addition, from November 1- March 31, A-SPAN operates the Arlington County Emergency Winter Shelter. The current economic and unemployment crisis has driven client numbers from 940 to 1740 this year. A-SPAN offers a wide variety of case management services through the Permanent Supportive Housing Program and the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program, which is funded by the Federal Stimulus.

Morning Notes

by | December 17, 2010 at 7:59 am | 629 views | 2 Comments

A-SPAN Holds Holiday Gala — The Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network held its 5th annual Help the Homeless Holiday Gala last night at Artisphere in Rosslyn. Party-goers were treated to food from Lebanese Taverna, Santa Fe Cafe and Sushi Rock, music from BMT and a performance by BalletNova. An auction held to benefit A-SPAN proved that deep down, there is something people care about more than politics in Washington. Tickets to a Capitals / Tampa Bay Lightning game fetched a higher price than a private lunch for four with Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va).

VSP Busy During Snowstorm — Virginia State Police responded to a total of 555 calls for service during yesterday’s snowstorm. Of those calls, 109 were for crashes and 135 were for disabled vehicles.

PenPlace Planning Hearing Postponed — Due to the snow, a scheduled planning meeting about the proposed PenPlace development in Pentagon City has been postponed. The current proposal is to build a five-building office and hotel complex located on a large swatch of undeveloped land between Eads and Fern Streets, adjacent to Army Navy Drive.  If approved, concessions from developers (including land owner Vornado) would help to fund the construction of nearby Long Bridge Park. More from TBD.

Steal This Cocktail Recipe — It’s For a Good Cause

by | November 10, 2010 at 12:37 pm | 643 views | 4 Comments

To help mark its upcoming 20th anniversary, Rosslyn Renaissance held an invite-only cocktail contest at the Hotel Palomar last night.

The neighborhood booster group pitted mixologists from three Rosslyn hotel bars against one another. Their goal: to concoct a drink worthy of being dubbed Rosslyn’s “Skyline cocktail.”

Guests sampled their spirits — multiple times, in some cases, to be thorough — and then voted for their favorite by placing dollar bills in each mixologist’s jar. The winner was the home team: with nearly 300 votes cast (and donated to A-SPAN) Hotel Palomar’s tropical, fruity cocktail beat out cocktails from the Marriott and the Hyatt.

With due respect to the Hotel Palomar, the Hyatt’s Michael Bryan was robbed. His cocktail, “At Ease,” was the a work of boozy art. Good news: if you weren’t there, you can either go to the Rosslyn Hyatt and order the drink, or make it yourself using the recipe below. Cheers!


  • 1/2 oz. Pernod
  • 3/4 oz. Cognac (Bryan uses Courvoisier VS or Hennessey VS)
  • 1/4 oz. Benedictine
  • 3-4 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
  • 1/4 oz. Simple Syrup

Pour Pernod into an old fashioned glass. Add ice and let sit until Pernod turns opaque (this technique is called ‘louching’). Swirl Pernod so that it coast the inside of the glass and then dispose of excess mixture.

In a mixing glass, add the rest of the ingredients. Add ice. Strain mixing glass into Pernod-coated old fashioned glass.

Add a few cubes of ice, zest the rim of the glass with an orange peel, then drop the orange peel on top of the drink.

Photos courtesy of Monique O’Grady/Rosslyn BID


A Look Inside the County’s Emergency Winter Shelter

by | November 8, 2010 at 1:13 pm | 1,748 views | 16 Comments

Arlington’s emergency winter shelter in Courthouse is now open and serving dozens of homeless individuals. On Saturday, reporters got a tour of the facility.

The Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network, which runs the shelter, gave the tour in advance of the group’s Community Walk for Homelessness. The group highlighted the shelter’s housing case management, nursing services and mental health services.

Also emphasized during the tour was A-SPAN’s big push for the funding and resources needed to operate the shelter year-round.

“Homelessness is not a five month issue, it’s a 12 month issue,” said Kathy Sibert, A-SPAN’s executive director. Newly re-elected congressman Jim Moran, who stopped by to offer words of encouragement, agreed.

“I would like for [the shelter] to be all year round,” he said. “We have people in the community who ought not suffer when we have the resources we do.”

The shelter can only stay open from Nov. 1 to March 31 due to insufficient funding and building code issues, Sibert said. If the shelter is to operate year-round, a new facility and additional funding must be obtained. A-SPAN is working with county staff and the county board to figure out a way to turn its vision of a year-round shelter into reality.

The current shelter facility is remarkably clean and well-kept — Sibert places an emphasis on cleanliness — but there’s no hiding the fact that it’s in an aging building that’s probably just a few years away from being torn down to make way for new development.


A-SPAN Receives $90K Federal Grant

by | July 8, 2010 at 8:33 am | 770 views | 9 Comments

The Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network is getting a $90,750 grant from the feds.

A-SPAN was one of 550 local homeless organizations selected to receive funds through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Continuum of Care program.

The funding “supports the Obama Administration’s far-reaching and ambitious plan to end homelessness,” HUD said in a statement.

A-SPAN Provides Hot Weather Relief

by | July 7, 2010 at 1:54 pm | 405 views | No Comments

The Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network has stepped up some of its services in response to the dangerously hot weather.

Executive Director Kathy Sibert says volunteers have been visiting homeless camps in Arlington and handing out ice water-filled water bottles donated by Harris Teeter. A-SPAN has also been opening its drop-in center in Shirlington at 9:00 a.m. instead of the usual 1:00 p.m. And they’re handing out additional water to the 90 people who usually show up for dinner.

Sibert says days like today demonstrate the need for a year-round homeless shelter. Currently, the county only operates an emergency winter shelter.

“Homeless people don’t just exist in the winter, it’s a year-round issue,” Sibert said.


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