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A small cohort of dedicated volunteers is stepping up to help support low-income homeowners, performing home improvements at no cost.

Since 1988, the nonprofit Rebuilding Together Arlington/Fairfax/Falls Church has worked to ensure low-income homeowners in Arlington and elsewhere in Northern Virginia have safe and accessible living spaces.

The group, a branch of the national organization Rebuilding Together, is based in the city of Fairfax but lends support to area nonprofit housing organizations, including Choice. Respect. independence, which aids people with disabilities. Last year, the volunteers spent 6,924 hours helping repair 100 homes across the region, according to the nonprofit’s website.

Volunteers are often involved in multiple projects each week, ranging from installing grab bars to new dryers. Typically, these projects involve a team of five volunteers and are completed with a budget of $500 or less.

Daphne Lathouras, communications manager for the local nonprofit, shared an anecdote with ARLnow from one homeowner who said, “I’ve been going up and down these stairs for 57 years and I can’t believe the difference two handrails make.”

Recently, in Arlington, volunteers also helped renovate a new building for the Lions Eyeglass Recycling Center, which has recycled more than 3 million pairs of eyeglasses for people in need.

Rebuilding Together’s local Northern Virginia affiliate heavily relies on the dedicated work of volunteers, some of whom provide year-round support.

“The key [to our success] is the incredible volunteers,” Lathouras told ARLnow.

The local organization receives funding from several sources including the Arlington County government, faith and corporate partners as well as individual donors.

“I want to thank the wonderful group with hearts of gold that came to my aid when I really needed it,” a homeowner said when giving feedback to the organization.

Additional information, as well as the volunteer sign-up link, are available on the nonprofit’s website.


Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring Three Ballston Plaza

A sponsor for Arlington’s premier youth soccer league is helping girls hone their skills as players and coders.

Tim Yang, who owns an online coding school called 355Code, has been hosting classes for members of the Arlington Soccer Association Girls with Goals program this year.

Girls With Goals is a free, six-week after school club that helps low-income families at select elementary schools in Arlington Public Schools participate in sports. It aims to break down barriers to participation, including cost and transportation, while increasing membership in the soccer league.

Yang, who liked the mission of the program, decided to offer his services as a coding coach during a six-week session this spring at Drew Elementary School.

“I felt Girls with Goals was a great program and wanted to connect further,” he told ARLnow.

Tim Yang provides coding coaching to two girls through Girls with Goals (courtesy Jerome Boettcher)

Yang says elementary school students are the “perfect age” for the first stages of instructional coding.

In the last session, Yang — who has previously worked as a software engineer for the IRS, the bank Citigroup and Nike — conducted 45-minute classes. Girls warmed up with 15 minutes of typing, moving to 15 minutes of computer activities and then 15 minutes of theory connection, reflection and discussion.

After witnessing the girls’ passionate, dedicated attitude and persistence, Yang says he hopes to continue hosting classes for Girls with Goals this fall.

“The girls are great — they work very hard,” Yang said. “There is no reason not to [continue].”

The coding lessons were in part possible through the partnership Girls With Goals has with the Extended Day after school program through Arlington Public Schools.

Christyna Haskins, a program assistant supervisor, says coding was new to the girls and they love it.

“Every day they come in asking if he is coming today,” she told Arlington Soccer Association. “They really do enjoy it. Some of the girls said they want to do coding as they get older. So it has opened new doors for them.”

Yang offers classes for Javascript and Python to students from grades 4-12. This summer, he is offering a Javascript course for one hour a week, on Zoom or in person at 901 N. Glebe Road, according to the Arlington Soccer Association.

Henry Price NYO Jazz
Henry Price photographed with beloved trombone (courtesy of Henry Price)

(Updated at 1:30 p.m.) When Henry Price first picked up a trombone in fourth grade, he could only imagine a summer touring Europe as one of the 22 brightest young jazz musicians in the United States.

The 17-year-old Barcroft resident will return to Washington-Liberty High School this fall with a summer’s worth of top-tier musical experience under his belt.

NYO Jazz — Carnegie Hall’s National Youth Jazz Orchestra — is a prestigious program set to recognize young, musical minds as the future of jazz on an international scale.

The program kicks off with a two-week training residency in New York City, followed by an NYO Jazz performance at Carnegie Hall on July 25. Trumpeter Sean Jones will lead the concerts and Grammy-winning vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater will be featured as a musical guest.

Following the Carnegie show, participants of the program will abruptly begin their NYO Jazz Europe summer tour, as the team arrives in St. Moritz, Switzerland just three days later (July 28) to play their first international show.

According to the website, “The musicians serve as dynamic music ambassadors as they share this uniquely American genre with audiences around the globe.”

After facing rejection from the 2021 program, Price decided to apply for last year’s NYO session — held within the United States rather than abroad. He was accepted to both the jazz and classical groups but ultimately chose jazz.

“Jazz is more comfortable for me,” Price said in a brief interview with ARLnow. “It’s more social, and more reckless — in a good way.”

Sean Jones led the youth jazz program through the country last summer, and Price says he feels incredibly lucky to be going on tour with such a prominent musical figure and mentor — one who consistently dedicates time to the musical progression of jazz in teenagers.

Price did not think twice when it came time to re-audition for the 2023 European tour.

“Everyone wants to re-audition,” he said. “I haven’t met a person [in the program] that hasn’t had a life-changing experience.”

This year’s young musicians will have the opportunity to perform at world-renowned events and concert halls such as the BBC Proms in London, St. Moritz Jazz Festival, Lucerne Festival and Rheingau Musik Festival in Germany. Shows in Berlin and Amsterdam are also included in the tour.

Now, after touring with Carnegie twice, Price understands that this opportunity is just the beginning.

Tickets as well as the full schedule are available here.

Volunteers serve Arlington Kabob’s packaged meals at Children’s Inn (courtesy Susan Clementi)

Earlier this month, Arlington Kabob cooked up hot dinners for a cause.

About two weeks ago, the restaurant donated 75 individually packaged meals to the Children’s Inn at the National Institutes of Health. The nonprofit provides housing and programming to young people with rare diseases being researched and treated at the NIH campus in Bethesda.

Arlington Kabob owner Susan Clementi says she was approached about a meal donation by longtime customer Gindy Feeser, who regularly serves dinners at the Children’s Inn with her coworkers.

Clementi said she worked with Feeser and her team at General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT) in Falls Church to offer a “moment of kindness” to kids living at the hospital, who lack normalcy in their day-to-day lives.

“One of my personal spiritual values is to stay involved and have awareness for my community,” Clementi said. “We at Arlington Kabob are always eager to support any great cause… and partner with [the restaurant’s dedicated customers] to make a small difference.”

Together, for the GDIT team’s June dinner contribution, Clementi provided the kabobs and Feeser provided the service.

“I think most of us know by now how lucky we are to have a gem like Arlington Kabob in our neighborhood,” Feeser said in a recent post that received considerable attention on the social media platform Nextdoor.

She said delivering a car full of kabobs to Bethesda was “a mouth-watering experience.”

“Once delivered, they were gone in minutes,” Feeser said in her post, which garnered nearly 530 reactions. “Bellies and hearts, full.”

Arlington Kabob is located at 5046 Langston Blvd in the Halls Hill/High View Park neighborhood and is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. The restaurant was founded by Clementi a decade ago and, as reported earlier this year, is noted for its partnerships with local schools on various fundraising initiatives.

Hamid Habib Zada tabla photo
Hamid Habib Zada plays the tabla (courtesy Ingrid Lestrud)

(Updated at 10:40 p.m.) When Hamid Habib Zada and Negin Khwalpak fled Afghanistan with their daughter Maram two years ago in hopes of escaping the Taliban, all they brought to America was a backpack full of diapers.

Their story is the inspiration for Arlington Chorale’s new concert, “We Stand Together,” which is premiering this Sunday, June 11 at 5 p.m.

Zada worked as a professional tabla player and Khwalpak as a conductor of Zohra, Afghanistan’s first all-female orchestra, before their escape. She currently studies conducting with a private teacher.

The Chorale’s artistic director, Ingrid Lestrud, noticed an online fundraiser for the couple in early 2022.

The fundraiser was posted by Jim Ross of the Alexandria Symphony, where Zada has played previously. After donating, Lestrud reached out to the couple and they quickly developed a relationship based on a shared love for music.

Zada and Khwalpak’s story serves as a guiding light behind Lestrud’s creative efforts to inspire change.

“This is one of the amazing things the show has — the voice of the refugee, the voice of the people that come from a hard situation, the people that started a life from zero and struggled [to get where they are today],” Khwalpak said in a brief interview with ARLnow.

For the upcoming show, Lestrud called upon Los Angeles-based composer Saunder Choi to create a piece that reflects the couple’s experience with loss, uncertainty, relocation and cultural empowerment. Zada will play the tabla during the live performance.

Choi commissioned Iranian poet Sholeh Wolpé to write a poetic narration to accompany his music. Both Choi’s composition and Wolpé’s poem are titled “Exile,” and will debut at Sunday’s concert.

“Poetry and music have the capacity to carry our histories, longings, and dreams,” Choi said in a statement. “Together they can create a bridge between people and cultures where we can meet and truly see one another.”

The couple and Lestrud believe that the music will raise awareness for local refugees and inspire community support. Though Lestrud has worked with Zada in the past, she aims to feature Khwalpak as a conductor later this year.

The concert will take place at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington (4444 Arlington Blvd) at 5 p.m. Tickets are available for $20 on the Chorale’s website. Attendees may also purchase tickets at the door.


When the pandemic hit, Arlington resident Matt White, like many others, could not get a haircut.

He noticed his hair grew quickly and, rather than cut it, he decided to challenge himself and see how long he could grow it out.

“At some point, I realized it could definitely be long enough to donate,” White told ARLnow.

Last Wednesday — almost three years after his last haircut — the 21-year-old went to his mother’s hair salon, Magnus Opus, for a long-anticipated haircut. Hairdresser Clinton Jones tied it into a long, 12-inch ponytail and snipped it off.

White sent his hair to Children With Hair Loss, a nonprofit that donates wigs made with human hair to children and adolescents suffering from medically-related hair loss. Picking the organization was an obvious choice for White because of a family friend who also donated her hair there.

Leading up to the haircut, White said he was excited to see how long his hair had actually grown — four inches longer than the nonprofit’s donation minimum.

Dealing with longer locks, however, had its challenging moments, he admitted.

“The hardest part of the process is when your hair isn’t long enough to go into a ponytail but too long to stay out of your eyes,” White said. “For those with short hair — it can be a challenge, and it can feel quite weird — but you will get used to it pretty quickly.”

New Velocity bike shop
Interior of the storefront (photo courtesy of John McClanahan)

Velocity Bike Cooperative is hosting a grand opening for its new Arlington location this weekend.

The location at 2647 N. Pershing Drive has been serving customers for a few months, but will formally celebrate its opening on Saturday, June 10. The event will include a ribbon cutting at 11 a.m. and giveaways.

“During Saturday’s celebration, we will offer a 20% discount on bikes and accessories,” said John McClanahan, a volunteer for the cooperative. “Giveaway items will include socks, shirts, caps, and basic tune-ups with pickup at Arlington. And, we’ll offer coffee, water, juices, and small pastries.”

Founded by John Patterson and Christian Myers in 2009, Velocity aims to foster an inclusive biking community through “affordability, education, and embracing the fun of riding,” according to its website.

The new Lyon Park location is its second location; the first is at 2111 Mt. Vernon Avenue in Alexandria’s Del Ray neighborhood.

Velocity’s storefronts facilitate sales, bike donations, bike education, as well as do-it-yourself and full-service repairs. Regular shop hours in Arlington are Tuesday-Friday from noon to 6 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.


Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that highlights Arlington-based startups, founders, and local tech news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1515 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn. 

Arlington-based fintech company Rize Money was started seven years ago with a simple goal: to help consumers navigate the opaque world of financial services.

Although CEO Justin Howell steered the company from serving people to fintech and technology companies in 2021, the underlying point of simplifying transactions stayed the same.

“Our goal was to break down the barriers between various financial siloes and enable financial user experiences that were simple and intuitive,” he tells ARLnow.

One service it offers is an “embedded payments platform,” which companies can use to provide customers with a seamless experience paying for a service, like an Uber ride, without leaving its application to make the payment.

But Howell had goals beyond what Rize could achieve on its own as a startup, though it raised several million dollars in early financing rounds.

Justin Howell Headshot - High Rez
Rize Money CEO Justin Howell (courtesy Rize)

The biggest opportunities we see in the market require a level of scale that is very difficult to achieve on a standalone basis as a startup,” he said.

Enter Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bank, which acquired the startup as part of its goal to capitalize on emerging technology in the banking sector. The Washington Business Journal first reported the move.

“While there will certainly be changes moving from a stand-alone venture-backed startup to one of the largest banks in the U.S., working with the Embedded Payments team will enable us to remain tech-first; only now we’ll be more equipped than ever to have a lasting impact on the sector,” he said.

Howell is optimistic about joining forces with a banking institution that is staying on top of market trends by acquiring fintech companies.

“Fifth Third brings the scale, Rize Money, Inc. brings the technology, and by joining forces, we’re able to meet the needs of the best clients,” he said.

He said his goal is to make embedded finance a “mainstream reality” and that Tom Bianco — general manager of embedded payments at Fifth Third Bank — and his team are the perfect partners for reaching this goal.

Through the acquisition, Howell intends to add to his team of staff.

“We will rearrange the structure of our team as we integrate with the Embedded Payments team, but our team will only grow,” he said.

Howell says Rize will have succeeded when it is “attracting the largest clients and growing the high-margin revenue base.”

“Joining Fifth Third means we’ll have 100% alignment among the tech
platform and the bank as we conquer the space,” he said.

Charlotte Walsh wins second place in Scripps National Spelling Bee
Charlotte Walsh wins second place in 2023 Scripps National Spelling Bee (via Scripps National Spelling Bee/ Twitter)

When Charlotte Walsh qualified for the 2023 Scripps National Spelling Bee, she knew it was her last chance to pursue her childhood dream of becoming a finalist.

Little did she know she would come in second place, out of 231 competitors, and win a $25,000 cash prize. She finished behind Florida student Dev Shah, who won with the word “psammophile” and took home $50,000.

“I’m very excited to start high school with this [spelling bee win] being one of the greatest things I’ve done so far in my life,” Walsh told ARLnow on Friday, amid interviews with several TV stations.

Walsh, an eighth-grader from Lyon Park, correctly spelled 13 words — including “akuammine,” “rescissible” and “sorge” — but was unable to capture first place when asked to spell the Scottish word “daviely” (pronounced “dave-yuh-lee“).

Her astonished facial expressions were splashed across newspapers nationally while her rapid-fire approach wowed some spectators.

The middle-schooler is no stranger to the Scripps Bee. In 2019, she finished in 51st place and in 2022, she climbed to 32nd place. This year’s contest was her final shot at a finalist title, as eighth-graders are the oldest eligible group.

The Fairfax County Council PTA in Merrifield sponsored her after she won the Fairfax County Bee and qualified for the national competition.

Now, spelling bees may be a thing of the past for Walsh, per her Scripps profile. The incoming high school freshman will continue homeschooling, but will be trading a list of 4,000 words to know for books on astrophysics and neuroscience — all while training for a black belt in tae kwon do.

Jeni's Shirlington
New Jeni’s shop at the Village at Shirlington (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Salute the summer with free ice cream this evening at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams in Shirlington.

The ice cream shop at 4150 Campbell Ave in the Village at Shirlington will offer free scoops, a limited number of “swag bags” and a sneak peek at new flavors tonight (Monday) from 7-11 p.m.

“This event is our way of saying, ‘Hey it’s summertime, bring your friends and family, come out for a date night’ — we want to celebrate the warm summer months,” said a spokeswoman for the company.

It also celebrates the kickoff of the first summer season for the Shirlington outpost, which opened earlier this year.

To scoop up this deal, one must be a Jeni’s Splendid Rewards member.

“Rewards members really have so many things in store for them — they get a heads up with news, special deals and rewards,” the spokeswoman said.

People do not have to be members to vye for merch, including tote bags with notebooks, sprinkles, koozies and other freebies. Instead, they need to be one of the first 25 spots in line.

Arlington is a unique place but it is not immune to the charms of free treats from national chains. The free donuts for “National Donut Day” this past Friday drew larger lines than usual to local Dunkin locations, ARLnow observed.

This Thursday, ice cream lovers can commemorate wedding season with the return of Jeni’s “Wedding Cake” flavor — made with vanilla cake, lemon, blackberries and buttercream icing. The seasonal treat will only be available for in-store scoops through June and may retire after just two weeks, the company says.

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2023 Scripps National Spelling Bee Finalists, photo via Scripps National Spelling Bee Twitter
2023 Scripps National Spelling Bee Finalists (via Scripps National Spelling Bee/Twitter)

(Updated at 11:10 p.m.) Arlington eighth-grader Charlotte Walsh will advance to the Scripps National Spelling Bee final after taking the semis by storm yesterday afternoon.

Fifty-six spellers from across the country — ages 9 to 14 — fought for a spot in the final. Only 11 remain.

Walsh advanced after correctly spelling “anilox,” a noun Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines as “a system of printing that utilizes ceramic-coated metal cylinders to transfer consistent amounts of ink from a supply to the printing plates.”

Walsh, who is homeschooled and lives in Lyon Park, was one of the last students to spell in front of the judges. In a brief interview with ARLnow, she acknowledged how nerve-wracking this wait was, as well as the feelings of relief she experienced after getting the word right.

“Making it to the finals has been my goal since I was little — no matter what happens, I’m proud of myself,” Walsh said this morning, just hours before her last Scripps competition.

Walsh’s photo was splashed across newspapers nationally after being captured gasping during her time on stage.

Another Arlington eighth-grade semifinalist, Nathaniel Hersey, will not be moving forward to the finals. He was thrown for a loop when given the silent-P-word “psalterial.”

“[Going into the competition] I was familiar with the majority of the 4,000-word list for rounds one and two,” Hersey, who lives in Bluemont, told ARLnow. “I heard that the words in the final rounds would be more obscure and less often studied.”

Judge Mary Brooks acknowledged his graceful efforts in the competition and wished him the best as he begins high school this fall. He currently takes classes through Virginia Virtual Academy.

A third Arlington participant, Kenmore Middle School student Ruby Kadera, was eliminated in the third round of the competition, their mother, Arlington School Board member Mary Kadera, confirmed to ARLnow. 

Walsh will represent Arlington County in the final competition tonight at 8 p.m. on the ION television network, available over the air and on several streaming platforms.

Photo via Scripps National Spelling Bee/Twitter


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