As protests against police brutality carry on across the country, and as law enforcement continue using excessive force against those exercising their First Amendment rights, communities everywhere are searching for ways to gather, show solidarity, express their emotions, and demand change. On Friday, June 5, 2020, Tenants and Workers United and La ColectiVA will co-host a community vigil in Alexandria and a Cacerolazo (Rally) for Black Lives in Arlington to remember and honor victims of police brutality and call for systemic changes that advance racial justice. Everyone is welcome to join the peaceful events. Face coverings and physical distance are strongly encouraged.
The vigil will be from 7:00-8:00pm in TWU’s parking lot, behind 3801 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22305. Participants are invited to bring posters, candles, and other tributes to honor the victims.
The Cacerolazo for Black Lives will be from 7:00-8:00pm and will take place at Tyrol Hill Park, 5101 7th Rd S, Arlington, VA 22204. Participants are invited to join in by making posters and banging pots and pans.
Ingris Moran, Lead Organizer at TWU, said “These events provide an opportunity for our communities to unite in solidarity with the Black community and honor all those who have had their lives taken away by police violence.” She added, “It’s a critical time for us to come together to push our local and state leaders to improve and change policies to end police brutality, increase police accountability, and advance social justice.”
Tirzah Sheppard of La ColectiVA said, “We gather because Black Lives Matter. Black LGBTQ+ Lives Matter. Black Trans Lives Matter. Black Disabled Lives Matter. La ColectiVA firmly believes that #WeKeepUsSafe and eagerly participates in the fight for police reform and abolition. Join us in uplifting our Black brothers and sisters as we honor George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and countless others who have lost their lives to police brutality and systematic racism.”
More information can be found on the Facebook event pages: A Vigil for George Floyd & Other Victims of Police Brutality and Cacerolazo for Black Lives. To speak with TWU staff or community members, contact Evelin Urrutia at 571-332-3251 or Ingris Moran at 571-251-9537. To contact LaColectiVA, call Danny Cendejas at 703-474-1330.
Tenants and Workers United builds power of low-income communities of color – primarily immigrants – to create changes that positively impact the quality of our lives in Northern Virginia. We organize and support people to be agents of change in their own lives by addressing the issues they care about.
La ColectiVA is an inclusive collaborative led by gente Latinx who are committed to upholding social justice and equity.
During an increasingly volatile time when tensions are heightened and nerves are frayed, the Arlington Coalition of Police would like to offer a series of apologies. We offer these apologies humbly in the hopes that they can serve to begin to mend a number of wounds on a number of fronts that were a long time in the making.
First and foremost, we apologize to George Floyd and his family. What happened in Minneapolis on May 25 was murder. The behavior shown by the involved police officers was callous and inexcusable. It should not have happened. It should never happen. That behavior is not what we stand for, nor what our members represent. We support those Minneapolis police officers being held accountable for their actions.
We apologize to Black and Brown communities across the country and within Arlington County. We understand that the immense pain, anger, and frustration you feel was not born out of a single incident, such as what happened in Minneapolis, but rather has been building for lifetimes. We understand that your trust and faith in our profession is at perhaps the lowest point it ever has been. It is not lost on us that it is our responsibility to work alongside you to address that.
We want you to know that we, too, are angered and frustrated by the environment in which we all have found ourselves. For as long as this department has been in existence, we have striven to serve all of this county’s citizens — and the thousands of people who travel in and out of Arlington each day — in as upstanding a manner as possible. When we have failed in that regard, you let us know. We appreciate that feedback and we take steps to improve the service we provide you. The product you experience today, unfinished and constantly adapting as it may be, is something you repeatedly have told us you are proud of. Community Satisfaction Survey – 2018 Results
And so we also apologize to our ACOP members, specifically the ones who hastily were pulled out of Washington, D.C. last night while serving in a mutual aid capacity to assist another agency. Just like we respond every time someone in Arlington calls us for help, we also respond when our surrounding jurisdictions need assistance. The mutual aid agreements we have with those agencies are not new, and everyone in a position of supervision over our department, including but not limited to the Arlington County Board, has known — or had ample reason to know — about their existence and terms for quite some time.
Nonetheless, last night the County Board decided impulsively to order the ACPD contingent out of D.C. We believe the County Board acted rashly, and a number of different constituencies now may pay a price. The officers from other agencies that remain in D.C. amid continued protests are now less numerous and, thus, less safe. Our department now has a stain on its reputation throughout the region because we backed out of a commitment at an incredibly challenging time.
The Arlington Community stands to suffer, as well. Should we ever be in a position where we need help from an adjoining jurisdiction, we are now less likely to receive it. That situation could come in the form of a protest or a riot. It also could come in the form of recovery from a natural disaster or an active shooter. The reality is we never will be able to plan for all of the situations in which we might need help, but it sure would be nice to know other agencies are ready and willing to assist at a moment’s notice should we make the request. That’s why mutual aid agreements exist.
For anyone who is of the opinion that ACPD officers should not be involved in the particular protests going on right now in the District at all, we respect your viewpoint. But please consider that especially right now, everyone is searching for answers. And one solution of the many that are needed is to rely more heavily on police officers that are intelligent, level-headed, compassionate, and fair. ACPD takes great lengths to hire and retain police officers of the highest quality. If there are going to be police officers monitoring a protest and attempting to ensure the safety of all involved parties, ACPD employs the type of officer you would want involved in such an undertaking.
The County Board did not appear to take any of that into consideration last night before making its mandate. What follows is what actually transpired last night leading up to the County Board’s hasty decision:
Members of ACPD’s Civil Disturbance Unit and SWAT teams were integrated with members of similar teams from U.S. Park Police and other agencies. On Sunday, May 31, protesters overran a fence barrier that was attempting to
protect a park near the White House. Protesters then set two different fires, one of which ultimately caused a nearby church to burn.
The CDU teams were told on Monday, June 1, that their mission was to clear the roadways near that park of protesters so that construction could begin on non-scalable fencing that would prevent further destruction of the park and surrounding buildings. One of the objectives was to relocate the protesters so that they could continue protesting in another area while the construction took place, not to disband and disburse the crowd altogether.
The timing of what ultimately took place was unfortunate. As the CDU teams were finishing that task, President Trump was escorted through the area that had just been cleared. The leadership of the CDU teams had not been made aware that President Trump was going to come out when he did or take the path he took. Clearing a path for him was never a designated objective for the CDU teams clearing those roadways.
Throughout that experience, protesters threw bricks and bottles at the CDU teams. Arlington officers were pushed and shoved and kicked and hit. But they continued on with their task of relocating the protesters so that they could protest elsewhere, and they completed their task without losing their composure. No ACPD unit deployed tear gas while in the District. ACPD units did deploy safe smoke and pepper balls that were targeted at particular individuals identified as needing to be detained.
We respect the right to protest, but part of our job is ensuring that such protests are done in a manner and location that is safe for the protesters and for us.
In the hours since the ACPD contingent was removed from the District, several false accusations have been lobbied. For example, social media was abuzz with video of a police officer in CDU gear using his shield to strike a protester who was backing away from the officer. It was alleged that said officer was from the ACPD. That allegation was and remains false.
We understand that there will be some who view ACPD as guilty by association. We understand that there will be some who believe it is just that ACPD was cast in a negative light because our uniform bears resemblance to the officers from other jurisdictions that we were working alongside. Again, we hear and feel your anger and frustration.
And we are sorry. We are sorry it has come to this. But we are resolved to continue serving this community as best we can. We are resolved to working with you to address the problems you see. We are resolved to wade through the politics of this moment with you and to rise above it together.
— The ACOP Board
Fashion Centre at Pentagon City today announced that it will reopen May 29. As part of the reopening process, the property published its comprehensive COVID-19 Exposure Control Policy, developed in conjunction with a team of leading experts in the fields of Epidemiology and Environmental Health and Safety (EHS), in order to deliver an elevated set of safety standards at the property.
Fashion Centre at Pentagon City’s enhanced safety protocols have been communicated to all tenants, who are expected to adhere to the same rigorous policies in their tenant spaces. Additionally, the property has joined forces with local non-profits to support initiatives aimed at assisting those in the community experiencing hardship as a result of COVID-19.
“The health, safety and well-being of the community we serve will always be our highest priority, and we have developed a thorough and detailed set of protocols highlighting the exceptional measures we’ve implemented for shoppers, retailers and employees as we reopen,” said Jonathan Juricic, General Manager at Fashion Centre at Pentagon City. “We also recognize that individuals and families in our community are suffering significant hardship as a result of both COVID-19 and the economic shutdown, and we believe that reopening our property will not only help people get back to work during these challenging times, but also enable us to use our property to further support charitable initiatives.”
Health & Safety
The property management team rigorously analyzed all aspects of the shopping experience and designed a complete set of safety protocols encompassing the following areas:
- Enhanced sanitization and disinfecting using the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) approved products with an emphasis on high-traffic locations such as dining areas, restrooms, escalators, stairs, directories, trash bins and door knobs.
- Shopper safeguards that include making available protective masks, sanitizing wipes and temperature testing at entrances or property offices, as well as the encouragement of pre-visit health screenings to ensure shoppers stay home if they have exhibited COVID-19 or flu-like symptoms within 72 hours.
- Hand sanitizing stations will be deployed throughout the property.
- Signage promoting CDC guidelines for maintaining personal hygiene will be prominently displayed throughout the property.
- Pre-emptive employee health screening to ensure that employees do not arrive at work within 72 hours of exhibiting COVID-19 or flu-like symptoms.
- Employee safety protections including implementing the CDC’s COVID-19 frequent hand-washing protocols, and offering personal protective equipment in addition to other CDC recommended practices.
- Promotion and enforcement of social distancing practices, including occupancy limitations, furniture and restroom spacing, closure of play areas and strollers, as well as coordinated traffic flow with traffic signage and distance markers.
Fashion Centre at Pentagon City closed on March 19 in order to address the spread of COVID-19. Reopening provides a much-needed economic boost to the local community impacted by COVID-19. Fashion Centre at Pentagon City is an important economic engine for the local community, providing more than 1,700 jobs and contributing $24.3 million of sales tax and $8.0 million in property tax revenue to the state. These tax receipts fund essential services in communities, including education and infrastructure as well as health and safety services.
“Our property is an integral part of our community not only in terms of shopping, dining and entertainment, but also job creation, small business growth and community support. We look forward to once again serving the needs of our community, and doing so in a safe and responsible manner,” said Mr. Juricic.
In addition to reopening, Fashion Centre at Pentagon City has joined a national initiative to host food banks, clothing donations, COVID-19 mobile testing, and blood drives as part of an outreach to 1,300 health providers, government agencies and non-profits.
On Friday afternoon, members of Marymount University’s graduating class will celebrate their accomplishments through a Graduation Parade, with faculty and staff cheering them on along a four-mile route that loops between Main Campus and the Ballston Center.
Graduates are encouraged to bring posters with them for the procession and decorate their vehicles. In order to ensure everyone’s safety, participants are required to stay in their vehicles for the duration of the program.
The parade, which will take place rain or shine, is scheduled to begin at 1 pm at the intersection of Yorktown Blvd. and N Brandywine St. in Arlington, Va., near Marymount’s Main Campus. Participants will start to line up their vehicles at this location at 12:30 pm. Once the procession begins, participants will travel south on N Glebe Rd. to the Ballston Center before looping back north to conclude the celebration at the Main House on campus. Click here for a step-by-step parade route.
If you wish to interview any graduates, faculty or staff members, please maintain a six-feet distance and wear a face mask/covering.
The Graduation Parade coincides with Marymount’s 2020 Commencement Weekend, with the graduating class set to participate in virtual commencement ceremonies on Sunday.
The Armed Forces Cycling Classic (AFCC), presented by The Boeing Company, will be offering free AFCC Virtual Ride options this year, as the overall event had to cancel due to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic. Virtual rides will be hosted on Strava and Zwift and a free rebroadcast of the 2019 AFCC will be available thanks to our media partner Monumental Sports Network.
“We hope that we can inspire cyclists to get out and either enjoy the great routes that we have to offer in our Strava Club or join us on our Zwift ride.” said Robert Laybourn, President of Arlington Sports and the Founder and Event Director of the Armed Forces Cycling Classic. “We look forward to seeing everyone in person when we return in 2021.”
Armed Forces Cycling Classic will kick off the weekend with a virtual Challenge Ride on their Strava Club. For those in the Washington D.C. area, three routes have been created to enjoy while riding safe and solo. For anyone outside of the D.C. area, we encourage them to ride, and we ask all participants to post photos to the AFCC Strava Club page or Instagram and tag @af_cyclingclassic to show that we are all riding together.
Saturday, May 30th at 11am, Armed Forces Cycling Classic will host a no-drop ZWIFT ride in partnership with Rapha. Athletes Justin and Cory Williams of Legion of Los Angeles will serve as ride leaders for this exclusive virtual event. AFCC and race announcer Brad Sohner will also host an Instagram Live during the event at instagram.com/af_cyclingclassic.
There will be no fees to participate in any of the Virtual Ride options and we do encourage participants to fundraise for our beneficiary, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). All riders who raise $200 or more will receive a limited edition Team TAPS jersey. Interested riders can set up their fundraising page at http://team.taps.org/cyclingclassic.
“Although a little different this year, we are so grateful to the Armed Forces Cycling Classic for hosting this AFCC Virtual Challenge Ride, and continuing this heartfelt partnership during these uncertain times,” said Bonnie Carroll, TAPS President and Founder. What’s so amazing about these virtual challenge rides is that cyclists–from novices to experts–can ride with Team TAPS, honoring the memory of a fallen military hero, while also supporting our mission to care for those grieving the death of a military loved one.”
We are also pleased to be able to share a free rebroadcast of the 2019 Clarendon Cup on Monumental Sports Network as well as a newly produced recap show with women’s and men’s winners, Kendall Ryan of Team Tibco-SVB and Eric Young of Elevate-Webiplex Pro Cycling Team.
For more information and to register for the AFCC Virtual Challenge Rides, visit www.cyclingclassic.org/virtual.
Today, the Rosslyn BID announced the launch of Rosslyn Ready, a multifaceted program to support and organize businesses in promoting proper safety measures when people are welcomed back into the neighborhood. Rosslyn Ready will provide customized digital resources and access to industry experts to help Rosslyn businesses create individualized strategies for reentry. In just under a week since launch, 90 businesses and restaurants have signed up to be part of the program.
As a part of Rosslyn Ready, businesses can sign up to join the Ready for Reentry program, where they will receive specific guidance in the form of digital resources and a webinar series where they can ask questions of renowned experts, including:
- Gensler, who will provide resources and information related to space management for businesses of all types, considering social distancing, workplace utilization, and considerations for new ways to think about workplace cultures, behavior, and communications.
- Streetsense, who will offer restaurant and retail-specific information related to capital management, operational adjustments (e.g., seating spacing, cleaning, delivery/pickup, etc.), and access to messaging and communications for their customers.
- Hillmann Consulting, Certified Industrial Hygienist, who will advise our businesses on enhanced cleaning and sanitizing of their office space.
- Bean, Kinney & Korman, who will help navigate the changing world of employment regulation and other legal considerations.
“The Rosslyn BID’s mission is to support and connect our business community, and Rosslyn Ready is a new facet of that mission,” said Mary-Claire Burick, President of The Rosslyn BID. “With this unique program, we’re giving businesses, restaurants, and retailers access to step-by-step guides and in-demand experts who they might not otherwise be able to work with due to monetary or time constraints.”
“Restaurants have been hard hit, so having the right support as we are coming out the other side of this crisis is critical,” said Matthew Carlin, President of Metropolitan Hospitality Group and owner of Salt and Open Road in Rosslyn. “We are relatively new to Rosslyn and the BID has been an invaluable resource for information and support from day one. We’re excited to fully reopen for our guests in the safest possible way, and the Rosslyn Ready program will help us to reach that goal.”
“Employee experience and well-being are a primary focus at POLITICO, and we know that returning to work will look different, with social distancing and increasingly stringent protocols,” said Traci Schweikert, Chief Talent Officer for Politico. “We’re glad to have this expert knowledge as we navigate the possibilities surrounding our reentry so we can make sure our employees can focus on their jobs and know that their health and well-being come first.”
The Rosslyn BID has launched several programs to assist small businesses and restaurants since Virginia’s COVID-19 stay-at-home order was passed in mid-March. The #RosslynRewards program and Rosslyn restaurant directory benefit both restaurants and consumers by encouraging residents to frequent Rosslyn restaurants to earn gift cards to those establishments. The Rosslyn BID also contributed $100,000 to Arlington County’s Small Business GRANT Program, which will be reserved for Rosslyn companies. Rosslyn small businesses in need of funding can apply for assistance through Arlington County’s website, with the application period closing at midnight on May 17.
For the last several years, Northern Virginia has taken dozens of promising tech start-ups to the Collision conference, granting them access to programming, investors, mentors and networking opportunities. This year, the Collision organizers have moved everything online, so instead of traveling to the conference in Toronto this year, eighteen lucky start-ups from Northern Virginia will get an all-access pass to the Collision from Home tech conference.
Founders and C-Suite executives from companies like Facebook, Microsoft, Uber, Spotify, YouTube, Netflix and more are already confirmed to speak. In addition, it is expected that over 1,000 angels, VCs and LPs will be joining the conference from home.
Each Start-up will get:
- 3 All-Access Event Tickets
- Access to Mentor Hours, Investor Meetings, Start-up Workshops and Event Networking App
- Opportunity to apply for PITCH
- 200 hours of conference content
- Inclusion in the Start-up Search Profile & Featured Start-up Page on the Event Website
- Dedicated Start-up Success Manager
Criteria for applying:
- Start-up must be less than 5 years old
- Cannot have raised more than US$3 million in funding
- At the time of application, the startup must at a minimum be launched and live with their own working website
- Start-up must have a logo available in .eps format
- Start-up must have their own unique software product or solutions, or they must be working on their own connected hardware devices
- Consultancies, agencies, developers, marketing/advertising agencies, public companies will not be accepted
- Start-up already registered for the Event is not eligible to participate as part of a delegate package
If you meet the above criteria, please apply with the economic development organization that represents the city/county where your business operates.
- City of Alexandria application
Questions can be sent to Marie Spittell ([email protected])
- Arlington County application
Questions can be sent to Alex Taylor ([email protected])
- Prince William County application
Questions can be sent to Deborah Roder ([email protected])
Applications close Friday, May 22.
The Arlington Education Association Political Action Committee (AEA-PAC) recently announced its endorsement of Cristina Diaz-Torres, a teacher and education policy specialist, in the Arlington Public School Board Democratic Caucus, stating that teachers believe “Cristina’s hands-on experience as a teacher and an education policy specialist, combined with her deep commitment to equity and transparency, is just what we need now to help steer APS through the present crisis.”
The school board caucus was previously scheduled to take place, in-person, on May 7th & 9th. However, when Virginia instituted its recent stay-at-home order, the local Democratic party that manages the process adopted a vote-by-mail alternative.
Diaz-Torres is one of five candidates seeking the Democratic endorsement for two open seats. However, the AEA-PAC declined to endorse other candidates at this point in the process. They said, “Cristina impressed the interview committee with her inspired and energized commitment to schools, and her ability to listen closely to our concerns and respond with honesty and thoughtfulness.”
Cristina Diaz-Torres began her career as a part-time preschool teacher at a Head Start program before later teaching pre-algebra, geometry, and AP Statistics in an English Learning-dense school district. She said, “early on, I understood how teacher quality impacts student success. Students with access to high-quality educators have better outcomes than other students. This is why I support and advocate for rigorous, teacher-driven, job-embedded professional development.”
Diaz-Torres, now an education policy specialist, works with school districts, state education agencies, and education organizations that seek to use data to improve student outcomes and education efficiency. She advocates for an Interest-Based Bargaining, stating: “it’s a process that asks teachers and administrators to work together in the best interests of students, teachers, and the community.” The AEA-PAC agrees, saying the organization believes that “Diaz-Torres’s vision of a collaborative framework for education governance aligns well with AEA’s commitment to gaining our official seat at the table through collective bargaining.”
May 7th was the last day for Arlington Democrats to request a mail-in ballot. Ballots must be received by the Arlington Democratic Party no later than May 30th to be counted. Caucus outcomes will be announced in early June.
U.S. Senators Tim Kaine and Cory Booker have announced their official endorsements for Arlington Virginia School Board candidate Terron Sims II.
Terron Sims II is a military veteran and former County Board candidate who played an instrumental role in Senator Tim Kaine, Governor Terry McAuliffe, Congressman Don Beyer, and Governor Ralph Northam’s campaigns, where he assisted in standing up their VMF apparatus, served as an official surrogate, edited policy, organized events, and raised funds.
Senator Tim Kaine made the following statement:”I am proud to endorse Terron Sims for Arlington School Board. After serving five years in the Army, Terron returned home to Northern Virginia and since then, he has dedicated so much of his time and energy towards helping his community — particularly young people. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I count on Terron’s help every year in recommending talented Virginia students to attend our military service academies. As Vice Chair of the DNC’s Veteran and Military Families Council, he has been a consistent advocate for veterans in Virginia, and as an activist, he continues to push for greater equity in education for all children. I have no doubt that Arlington students and parents will benefit from Terron’s experience. I encourage all Arlingtonians to support him in the upcoming election — you can request a mail-in ballot at arlingtondemocrats.org/vote/ ballot.”
Senator Cory Booker recorded a video proclaiming his support of the army veteran and long-standing activist of Arlington County. Click HERE to watch the full video!
“I am honored to have earned the support of Senators Kaine and Booker, leaders who understand the importance of a quality education system,” says Sims. “Their endorsements will help increase the campaign’s visibility and the platform on which I stand – the future betterment of our youth starts in school.”
In wake of public-health concerns, the Arlington Democratic Committee is encouraging all registered voters to use vote-by-mail ballots. Voters have until May 7, 2020 to request their ballots and are faced with a May 30th deadline to turn them in.
Sixty-five Arlington nonprofits have received a total of nearly $800,000 in emergency response support from the Arlington Community Foundation COVID-19 Prompt Response Fund. On Giving Tuesday Now and throughout the week of May 4, the Community Foundation hopes Arlington residents and businesses will help replenish the fund to meet continuing urgent, crisis-related needs.
Giving Tuesday Now is a new global day of giving and unity that will take place on May 5 as an emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19. This is in addition to the regularly scheduled Giving Tuesday, which takes place the Tuesday after Thanksgiving each year. The Community Foundation is asking that everyone in the Arlington community who has a little extra to give provide support to this fund or any other nonprofit that is helping those in crisis.
“The community’s support for our neighbors who are in crisis has been extraordinary, but the need is accelerating as the health crisis and its economic fallout continue,” said Jennifer Owens, president and CEO of the Community Foundation. “Our response funds are almost depleted, leaving many of the Arlington groups on the front lines of the COVID crisis in urgent need of support.”
The Community Foundation is working hard to determine the best way to help the people who need support the most in our community as funds dwindle. As the crisis evolves, Owens anticipates that the support will shift from direct emergency relief to recovery support. Since the onset of the COVID outbreak in Arlington, Community Foundation staff, board members, and representatives from both the County and other local funders have met daily to assess grant requests from nonprofit organizations on the front lines with clients, patients, and residents impacted by the health crisis and its economic fallout. This includes organizations focused on emergency food needs, housing, health needs for the uninsured or underinsured, and support for hourly workers displaced from their wage-earning positions.
To make a gift to Arlington Community Foundation’s Prompt Response Fund or see a list of the nonprofits supported to date, visit www.arlcf.org
Transportation Security Administration employees at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) have established a free food and toiletries pantry to assist employees in the airport community who have been laid off or seen their work hours and paychecks reduced due to the significant decrease in travelers as a result of the pandemic.
“It’s a one-stop shop for airport employees who are in need,” said Shanita Wylie, a TSA program analyst who assisted the TSA’s employee morale group at DCA coordinate the opening of the pantry. “Just over a year ago federal employees were furloughed and were provided so much support by the entire airport community and now we are here continuing the trend of support and showing them our appreciation.”
“The Pantry,” as it is known, is stocked with food and toiletries. Individuals are asked to bring their own shopping bag to the office where The Pantry is located. The Pantry doorway has a table where individuals approach. They are provided with a shopping list of goods available and they can mark it with which items they would like. Then an off-duty TSA employee will take the list and fill the shopping bag with items on the “shopper’s” list. Items include cereal, evaporated milk, soup, pasta, pasta sauce, Ramen noodles, canned meats, macaroni and cheese, toothpaste, soap, laundry detergent, feminine products, diapers, deodorant and many additional items.
Some “shoppers” are exchanging items for which they have a surplus at home. “One woman had several cans of carrots that her children did not like, so she dropped them off here and we were able to give her some rice that she wanted. It worked like a swap,” Wylie explained.
TSA officers are donating cash, products and gift cards to keep the pantry stocked. “We’re paying it forward for those who helped us when we were not receiving paychecks,” Wylie said. The difference, however, is that TSA employees eventually were paid for the time they worked. The airport contractors and airline employees who have been laid off or had their work hours reduced will not be paid.
Kavita Harvin has been a TSA officer for 19 months and volunteers to work at The Pantry for two hours before her security shift begins. She has donated items such as beans, rice, canned goods, bottled water and hygiene products. During her shifts she has seen a continual flow of individuals who come pick up what they need and she noted that one-can meals and dried beans are popular food items.
“We have a lot of food here, but the paper towels, toilet paper and toiletries are what is often hard to find in stores,” said TSA officer Briana Battle. So when her family recently went shopping, she picked up extra paper towels and Tide laundry pods to contribute to The Pantry. “I was a new employee during the government shutdown and saw first-hand how the airport community helped TSA officers” who were not receiving their paychecks during the furlough, which is why she has volunteered her time to staff The Pantry and donate goods.
During the government shutdown, “my husband was the only one who was bringing in a paycheck for our family of four,” recalls Tara Simmons, a 12-year TSA veteran. “This is a good opportunity for me to show my gratitude for when my family was impacted by what was happening.” She observed that the most popular items at The Pantry include deodorant, toilet paper and diapers more so than food items. “Airport workers are essential and they can’t get to the stores right away when they restock shelves” and she sees TSA as being able to help fill that void.
The Food Pantry opened on Friday, April 24 and is open weekdays for a few hours each day. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority provides the space for the pantry in Terminal A across the hall from TSA’s Lost and Found Office.