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by ARLnow.com — September 13, 2016 at 3:35 pm 0

The new Nando’s Peri-Peri in Ballston will hold its grand opening celebration this coming Saturday, Sept. 17.

The restaurant, in the former Vapiano’s space at 4401 Wilson Blvd, is celebrating its opening with appearances by Washington Capitals players, media personalities and the Caps’ Red Rockers squad.

The new Nando’s will be open from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday and all opening day sales will be donated to the Capitals’ official charity, the Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation, according to a press release. The guest appearances will take place between noon and 7 p.m.

Among those expected to help flip chicken on the grills during the opening event, are:

  • Radio personality Elliot Segal from “Elliot in the Morning”
  • Left winger Andre Burakovsky
  • Center Lars Eller
  • Right winger Stanislav Galiev
  • Defenseman Nate Schmidt
  • Right winger Tom Wilson
  • Capitals alumnus Paul Mulvey
  • Red Rockers squad
  • Caps announcer Wes Johnson
  • CSN Mid-Atlantic’s Capitals analyst and Caps alumnus Craig Laughlin
  • Capitals contributor Courtney Laughlin

“Nando’s is thrilled to partner with the Caps to Rock the Red in Ballston and support Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation,” said Nando’s U.S. CEO Burton Heiss. The Capitals practice facility, Kettler Capitals Iceplex, is located in Ballston.

From the press release:

Nando’s has built an intensely loyal following by providing fresh food in a relaxed atmosphere with friendly service. Nando’s is known worldwide for its succulent PERi-PERi chicken, marinated for 24 hours, flame-grilled to perfection, and basted to the customer’s preferred flavor and spice.

Every Nando’s is painstakingly designed and completely unique, with earthy textures and bright colors that reflect its sunny African-Portuguese heritage. With thousands of pieces of original works of art that are a constant reminder of where the restaurant came from, Nando’s has become the largest collector of South African contemporary art in the world. In the United States alone, there are more than 600 pieces of original African art in Nando’s restaurants.

by Tim Regan — August 29, 2016 at 10:00 am 0

Photo via Twitter : OverTheEdgeLocal thrill-seekers will have a shot to rappel down the side of a Crystal City hotel building during a charity fundraiser next month.

Over The Edge, an organization that helps raise money for nonprofits across the U.S., is set to partner with Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure during a daredevil event at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City (2799 Jefferson Davis Highway) on Sunday, Sept. 18.

During the challenge, participants who register and raise at least $2,000 to help fund brain cancer research will get the chance to rappel down the side of the hotel. Though the feat might look daunting, no experience is necessary to join in on the fun, organizers said.

Registration costs $75 and reserves attendees a spot on the list. All who want to participate must raise at least $2,000, according to organizers.

Photo via Twitter / Over The Edge

by Adrian Cruz — July 15, 2016 at 2:45 pm 0

arlingtonthriveWith Arlington in the middle of an electricity-draining heat wave, one local nonprofit is helping residents in need pay off electric bills.

Since July 2013, Arlington Thrive has provided more than $180,000 in utility assistance. In the month of June alone, it has helped almost 150 people nearly three dozen families different households.

“I imagine with the heat wave expected next week we will be helping even more people in July,” executive director Andrew Schneider said.

Almost half of Americans couldn’t afford an emergency expense of $400 without selling something or borrowing money, according to a report from the federal reserve on American households.

Schneider’s organization aims to change that.

“Arlington Thrive provides emergency same-day financial assistance to Arlingtonians in crisis working in partnership with social workers from the County and our social services partners like A-SPAN and Doorways for Women and Families,” he said. “Our largest areas of assistance are with rental assistance to help people avoid eviction and medical costs,” including doctor’s bills, prescriptions and dental assistance.

The organization provided nearly $475,000 in rent payments in fiscal 2015 between July 2014 and June 2015, helping prevent the eviction of almost 425 households, many of which had children.

Along with its daily emergency fund, Arlington Thrive also sponsors other programs.

Its Carter-Jenkinson Memorial Homeless Prevention Fund provides long-term assistance that the daily fund is unable to cover. Another initiative is its Dress for Work Success Program, which gives new professional work attire for clients who have completed Arlington County’s Arlington Works job readiness program.

In fiscal 2015, the organization received half of its income from Arlington County, with individuals providing 34 percent. The remaining 16 percent came from various businesses, civic organizations, foundations and faith groups.

“Arlington Thrive is a great example of a successful public-private community partnership that provides a financial safety net for our residents,” state Sen. Barbara Favola (D) said on the organization’s website. “I hope that successful model will continue for many decades to come.”

by ARLnow.com — March 2, 2016 at 12:05 pm 0

Taste of Arlington will feature a mammoth “street pub” this year.

The 400-foot long portable bar travels the country, offering draft beer from Oregon-based Deschutes Brewery at various large events. Proceeds from the beer sales will be donated to charity, said a rep for the Ballston BID, which organizes the annual event.

Taste of Arlington 2014 crowds“This partnership will not only take the beer garden to a whole new level, but will greatly increase Taste’s fundraising clout,” said Mollie Wagoner.” As a signature event of the Ballston BID’s new charitable arm, BallstonGives, they hope to outdo all past fundraising. The BID has already guaranteed a minimum $25,000 donation to Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) with a goal of raising much more.”

The event, held along Wilson Blvd in Ballston, features food from more than 50 restaurants and attracts some 40,000 people each year. The beer and wine sales area is consistently one of the most crowded sections of the festival.

This year’s Taste of Arlington is scheduled for May 15 from noon to 6 p.m.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — December 11, 2015 at 3:00 pm 0

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catalogue-for-philanthropy-washington-charities-capitol-hill-arts-workshopYour best bet to give like a local is The Catalogue for Philanthropy. The Catalogue is the only locally focused guide to giving in Greater Washington. They’ve spent more than a decade figuring out the best small charities in the area and connecting them to donors. Their team makes sure you’re not only giving like a local, but that you also feel good about giving back. All of their charities are screened for excellence so that your donation makes a real impact.

No matter your interest, with the Catalogue’s help, you’ll find a nonprofit that strikes a chord with your charitable impulse. Want to protect the Potomac? The Catalogue has 20 hand-picked organizations committed to environmental protection and conservation. Are you a die-hard supporter of DC’s vibrant arts scene? You can find more than 60 reviewed arts organizations in Greater Washington. Devoted to the future of DC? The Catalogue features more than 50 charities preparing our next generation for success.

The Catalogue not only screens nonprofits to make sure they’re doing the best for the causes you care about, they also make it easy to give. If you donate through the Catalogue, they don’t take a cut. You can even buy a gift card to make sure your family and friends also give like a local this year.

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by Heather Mongilio — October 29, 2015 at 10:35 am 0

(Updated at 5:25 p.m.) Local chefs walked away with big wins at a charity cooking competition in Clarendon last night.

The Arlington County Fire Department’s finest firehouse cooks faced off against three groups of local professional chefs in a reality TV-style cooking competition where the competitors had 25 minutes to whip up dishes using only ingredients found in the Arlington Food Assistance Center’s pantries.

Judges Scott Brodbeck of ARLnow.com, Becky Krystal of the Washington Post and Chef George Pagonis of Kapnos Taverna sampled each dish before choosing a winner of the round by ringing a large bell, signaling a vote for the firefighters, or putting on a chef’s hat. Chef David Guas of Bayou Bakery served as emcee for the night.

At the end of the night, the local chefs walked away from the Clarendon Ballroom (3185 Wilson Blvd) with two of the coveted “Golden Eggplant” awards.

Arlington County Fire Department’s Lt. Romulius Queen and firefighter Frank Rachal took home the first “Golden Eggplant” of the night with their Southern Style Fried Chicken topped with a homemade barbecue sauce and accompanied by a zucchini pasta with a thai peanut and ginger sauce. All three judges rang the bell.

“That fried chicken, he really nailed it,” Pagonis said.

Queen and Rachal beat out SER Restaurant chef and co-owner Josu Zubikarai, who made Rulada chicken ragout with mushrooms and spicy vegetables.

It was Queen’s first time competing in AFAC’s Chiefs vs. Chefs event.

“It feels good to go home with a trophy instead of going home crying,” he said.

Chef Tom Madrecki of Chez le Commis took home the second “Eggplant” with his caramelized onion soup with buttermilk, accompanied by homemade bread with butter. He earned the votes of two out of the three judges for his simple but flavorful soup.

Cooking with only the food in AFAC’s pantry was a challenge, Madrecki said.

“It’s reflective of what thousands of Arlington families have to do every day, so it’s very rewarding,” he said.

Facing off against ACFD’s finest brought its own difficulties as the firefighters were both skilled chefs and have a connection to the community, Madrecki said. Votes for the firefighters were applauded by the crowd, whereas votes for the chefs were greeted by good-natured boos.

“We’re the underdogs as the chef because they’re the ones out in the community everyday,” he said. “They’re the ones protecting us so it’s an honor to cook with them.”

Cooking is part of the firehouse lifestyle, said Acting Chief Joesph Reshetar, adding that the firefighters often try out new dishes on their coworkers.

“The firehouse is where they experiment,” he said. “If you can please us, if you can please a group of people, you know you’re on to something.”


by Heather Mongilio — August 12, 2015 at 10:25 am 0

Spa Swag for Warriors logo

(Updated at 10:55 a.m.) A new Arlington-based nonprofit is looking to make the lives of female military personnel overseas more comfortable.

Spa Swag for Warriors is a women-owned charity that sends high-quality bath products — such as lavender-scented face wipes, skin creams, loofahs, shampoo, conditioner and lotion — to female service members serving abroad.

CEO and founder Lacey Chong said she started the organization after speaking with her friend Becca, a Marine Corps officer who was helping with the Ebola crisis in West Africa. The Marine told Chong about the limited access to bath products, which prompted Chong to collect items and send them over for Becca and other women to use “after a hard day of work serving our country.”

“Female soldiers put up with a lot overseas — unsanitary conditions, post-traumatic stress disorder, sexual assault and long hard days,” Chong said in a press release. “I think women instinctively understand that providing restorative products to deployed female service members can have an immediate impact on their morale and well-being.”

The nonprofit’s goal is to bring comfort to female service members, Chong said.

Female service member with spa goods

“We… aim to improve the morale and well-being of deployed female service members by providing high quality bath and body products,” she said.

The organization has mailed care packages across the world, including to countries in West Africa, East Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

“The items are hand-picked from socially responsible companies,” said the press release. “So far, the organization has been successful in securing donations of most-wanted items from companies such as Cate McNabb, Tom’s of Maine, Murad and Arbonne.”

The non-profit is looking for donations of the most-wanted bath products, including dry shampoo, eye cream, makeup remover and sleep masks. Donations can be mailed to Spa Swag for Warriors at P.O. Box 17207, Arlington, VA 22216.

Photos via Spa Swag for Warriors

by Ethan Rothstein — March 4, 2015 at 11:30 am 0

This Friday afternoon, an Arlington family is hosting an ice skating fundraiser to help fund childhood cancer research, in memory of the daughter they lost to the disease.

Ellen and Tom Blair lost their daughter, Catherine Elizabeth Blair, in 2011 to neuroblastoma, a deadly cancer that mostly affects children younger than 5 years old, according to the Mayo Clinic. In her memory, they started the Catherine Elizabeth Blair Foundation to provide grants to researchers searching for a cure for the disease that kills more than 60 percent of those afflicted.

Friday’s event, Skate for Catherine, is the foundation’s largest fundraiser, now in its fourth years. From 1:30-3:00 p.m. at Kettler Capitals Iceplex (627 N. Glebe Road), attendees will skate on the ice and participate in raffles for prizes like an iPad mini or a package of tickets to Capitals, Wizards and D.C. United games.

“Even though the reason is serious, the event is a lot of fun,” Ellen Blair says in the foundation’s promotional video, embedded above. “Catherine would have loved it. It’s a skating party with food, music, lots of prizes and your friends will be there.”

Tickets for the event are $20 and include skate rental and refreshments. The deadline for purchasing online is today (Wednesday), but tickets can be purchased at the door. Blair told ARLnow.com this morning that the event typically sells out, so online purchasing is strongly encouraged.

by Ethan Rothstein — February 25, 2015 at 11:00 am 3,890 0

Jennifer Bush-Lawson and her kids (photo via the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation)On the one-year anniversary of his wife’s death in a car accident in front of Nottingham Elementary School, Neal Lawson launched a foundation in her honor.

The Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation formally launched yesterday with a mission, according to a press release, of providing funding for “access to medical services, counseling and support for economically vulnerable mothers-to-be, newborn babies and postpartum mothers who don’t have the means or resources to start their journey on solid footing.”

Bush-Lawson was killed the morning of Feb. 24, 2014, while loading her daughter, Sadie, into a car seat on N. Little Falls Road. A passing dump truck hit the minivan’s door, which was sheared off the vehicle and into Beth-Lawson. She was pronounced dead at Inova Fairfax Hospital that afternoon.

Bush-Lawson was a 39-year-old mother of three children — two of whom attend Nottingham — and her husband decided to use her memory to put action behind one of her passions: helping other mothers.

“Jennifer was an amazing wife, mother and woman,” Neal Lawson, founder and CEO of the foundation, said in the release. “There is no better way to honor her memory than providing mothers-to-be the opportunity to be the best mother possible and providing newborn babies a healthy start at life.”

Bush-Lawson’s three children — Cooper, Booker and the youngest, Sadie — were all born premature, according to the JB-LF foundation’s website, and the care they received inspired Bush-Lawson to want the same for those less fortunate.

“Lawson dedicated her life to her children and to being the best mother possible,” the press release states. “She believed that every mother — regardless of race, color, creed, or economic status — should have an opportunity to do the same.”

The JB-LF has partnered with Virginia Hospital Center and the Arlington Pediatric Center to provide resources to pregnant women and new mothers. The foundation is also planning on hosting a silent auction and “celebrity chef dinner” in the spring, and a memorial 5K race in the fall.

The driver of the dump truck that struck Beth-Lawson’s car was charged with “failure to pay full time and attention,” a traffic infraction. The accident led neighbors to call for increased safety measures in the Williamsburg neighborhood.

According to WJLA, the community has added a speed and message board on N. Little Falls Road, the Arlington County Police Department has increased its presence in the area and the county has added “bike share lanes.” One community member told the TV station the road “does feel a little bit safer.”

Photo via JB-LF

by Ethan Rothstein — November 14, 2014 at 1:30 pm 0

Bikes for the World logoArlington-based charity Bikes for the World, which takes used bikes and ships them to underprivileged communities around the world, will donate its 100,000th bicycle tomorrow.

The charity will send the bike as part of a shipment of 500 bicycles to Costa Rica, to be distributed to workers who use the bikes as part of their jobs in their rural economy, according to a Bikes of the World press release.

Bikes of the World has been sending bikes around the world, to places like the Philippines, Ghana and Afghanistan. The bikes help children get to school and help families climb out of poverty by providing reliable transportation. The bikes also provide jobs for people in the receiving countries, who get work reconditioning the bicycles once they arrive.

The 100,000th bike will be loaded into a shipping container tomorrow at noon at 1420 S. Eads Street as part of America Recycles Day. All of the bikes the nonprofit ships are donated by Americans in eight states and D.C., and recycled for their use internationally.

Image via Bikes for the World

by Ethan Rothstein — November 13, 2014 at 11:15 am 0

UberOffices in RosslynAn Arlington County breast cancer charity is organizing a “B.F.F.” — “Breast Friends Forever” — fundraiser in Rosslyn next week.

The Sharon McGowan Breast Health Fund is holding the happy hour fundraiser at the ÜberOffices coworking space, at 1400 Key Blvd, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 20.

Beer and appetizers will be served, The event is free to register for, but a donation is highly encouraged.

Proceeds from the event help the fund pay for “free mammograms, sonograms, biopsies, medical devices, and [breast cancer] medications” for uninsured men and women in Arlington and Falls Church.

McGowan was an Arlington resident and mother of seven children who succumbed to breast cancer in 1997. Her niece, Jaimie, will be at the happy hour — which doubles as a young professional networking event — encouraging those in attendance to find a “breast friend” to “buddy up with and remind each other to get annual mammographies.”

by Ethan Rothstein — October 24, 2014 at 2:30 pm 2,999 0

Firefighters gather during a Falls Church office fireThirteen Arlington County firefighters plan to run the Marine Corps Marathon this Sunday in full gear that can weigh up to 45 pounds.

The firefighters are running the 26.2 miles around Arlington and D.C. to raise money for multiple sclerosis after a firefighter named Josh — who doesn’t want his last name released for privacy reasons — was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in June. Josh worked out of Fire Station 6 in East Falls Church with firefighter Jake Pike, who is organizing the run.

“Our brother Josh is the glue of our firehouse, the jokester, the infectious personality that always smiles and is always positive,” Pike wrote on the fundraising page for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s website. “In June 2014, our Captain came into the room with very solemn news. The glue of the crew and our brother had been in the ER all night and was diagnosed with MS.

“It is the only time I have heard our firehouse completely quiet. Not a sound from 12 strong A-list personalities was heard. The room went dead silent. At that moment you could feel that something left the room. It was devastating news. For the next few days each one of us grappled with the news, studied and read as much about MS as we could and some went home and cried. We were in shock.”

Pike told ARLnow.com today that a few weeks later, he and the other firefighters at Station 6 had resolved to run the Marine Corps Marathon to raise money for MS research and to support, as Pike called him, “our brother.”

“It wasn’t long enough to train for a marathon, but was kind of the perfect opportunity to do something,” Pike said. “We told him after the fact and he got mad at us because he didn’t want to draw attention to it. He’s a private guy, but I think he appreciates it. He’ll be there at the finish line for us.”

Some of the 13 participants will be wearing pressurized oxygen tanks and helmets, while others will just be wearing the suits, Pike said. The firefighters are nervous about the suits, Pike said, since they are designed to retain heat and weather forecasts are calling for an unseasonably warm day.

“None of us have run it before, and we’re not runners,” Pike said with a nervous laugh. “The biggest challenge for us is the weather. So if it’s hot and humid like it’s supposed to be, that’s going to be an issue. Then there’s the five-hour mark, you have the hit the [14th Street Bridge] in five hours or you’re not going to finish.”

Regardless of the result, Pike and his colleagues have already raised $5,630 for the MS society, and hope to raise even more Sunday when the tens of thousands of runners and spectators see the group of firefighters in full gear running alongside. A large contingent of the Arlington County Fire Department is expected to attend to support the group, and Josh.

“It’s really for the guy we wake up next to every day,” Pike said, “so hopefully it makes it easier for him.”

You can donate to their cause and help them reach their $30,000 fundraising goal here.

File photo

by Ethan Rothstein — October 2, 2014 at 10:00 am 0

Ben's Chili Bowl opening in RosslynBen’s Chili Bowl, less than a year after opening in Rosslyn (1725 Wilson Blvd), is hosting a a day of children’s activities and charity fundraisers for its new neighbors this weekend.

The community day will take place on Saturday, Oct. 4, from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., in the parking lot of the Colonial Village Shopping Center. Ben’s is hosting face painting and balloon animals for children, and the Arlington County Fire Department will bring a fire engine for kids to tour while learning about fire prevention and safety. There will also be games with “various prizes.”

Ben’s will also be hosting a canned food drive to benefit the Arlington Food Assistance Center. Anyone who brings in cans will get 10 percent off their next meal at the restaurant.

“Ben’s truly appreciates the excellent work that AFAC does,” Ben’s co-owner Vida Ali said in a press release, “so for this Community Day and beyond we choose to support their efforts as much as possible.”

There will also be two raffles Ben’s is hosting: anyone who pledges to “stand up against bullying,” in honor of October being National Bullying Prevention Month, will be entered into a raffle for a free lunch for two; anyone who brings in a 300 words or less story about how they gave back to the community will also be entered into a raffle for a free lunch for two people.

“Ben’s is first and foremost about family and community,” the release said. “Now, a new chapter has begun in Arlington and Ben’s is happy to invite everyone in the community to come out and enjoy a wonderful day of giving and celebrating life.”

File photo

by Ethan Rothstein — September 11, 2014 at 11:15 am 0

Daisy (right) and Tulip (photo courtesy AWLA)With domestic violence in the news, the Animal Welfare League of Arlington is spreading the word about a program that allows those in dire situations to shelter their pets.

The nonprofit organization, located at 2650 S. Arlington Mill Drive, has a program called “Safekeeping.” The program allows pet owners in Arlington and Falls Church to shelter their pets at AWLA for up to two weeks while the owner is coping with an emergency, like domestic violence, losing a home or the owner’s death.

With the national spotlight thrust on domestic violence after video surfaced of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice punching his then-fiancée, AWLA is hoping to remind abuse victims that their pet’s well-being could be at risk as well as their own.

“A strong connection has been documented linking animal abuse and domestic violence,” said AWLA spokeswoman Kerry McKeel. “Women often delay their decision to leave an abusive partner out of concern for the safety of their pets.”

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that 83 percent of women and 63 percent of children, after having arrived at a domestic violence shelter — such as Doorways for Women and Families — reported incidents of pet abuse.

“At AWLA our steadfast mission throughout the year is to improve the lives of animals and one way in which we accomplish this objective is through our Safekeeping program,” McKeel said. “Animals often give continuity and hope during a crisis, so it is distressing for many when they feel forced to part with a pet due to their circumstance. During a crisis, pet owners often just need some short-term help to get back on their feet and that is what we offer through the Safekeeping program.”

Animals can be sheltered at AWLA for two weeks at a time, and the owners are required to check on the pet’s welfare after one week, AWLA says. There is no limit for how many times an animal can be sheltered in case of emergency. McKeel said that, since Safekeeping was launched as a service in 2005, more than 200 animals have been sheltered.

File photo courtesy AWLA

by Ethan Rothstein — July 8, 2014 at 6:00 pm 0

NextGenNow Check Presentation (photo courtesy NextGenNow)The year-old young philanthropists group NextGenNow, a part of the Arlington Community Foundation, gave its first-ever grant to a summer reading program.

The grant, for $5,000, was given to The Reading Connection’s “We Are Readers” program, which enables at-risk children to keep up with their peers when they might not normally have access to reading materials. NextGenNow had determined its cause for the grant would be helping children and families, and chose the Alexandria-based group out of 20 nonprofits that applied.

NextGenNow was launched a year ago to “engage young professionals in philanthropy,” according to a press release.

“The Arlington Community Foundation has long been a proud supporter of literacy initiatives all across the County,” Arlington Community Foundation Executive Director Wanda L. Pierce said in the release. “That NextGenNow members chose to support We Are Readers out of so many worthy proposals speaks to the importance of providing all young children with equal access to this critical skill.”

Kevin Shooshan, director of leasing and marketing for The Shooshan Company, is co-chair of NextGenNow with Susan Anderson, who works in the Arlington County Treasurer’s Office. Shooshan said “NextGenNow is just getting started.”

“”I’m so excited about where NextGenNow is today, a little over a year after launching this effort,” Shooshan told ARLnow.com in an email. “We’re lucky to be in a community in which we can pull together so many people in such a short time with a common goal, and ultimately help others who are truly in need.”

Photo courtesy NextGenNow


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