Arlington, VA

The second annual Cranksgiving charity bike ride returns to Arlington this Saturday (Nov. 21), and this year the choose-your-own adventure experience includes COVID-19 safety rules.

“Cranksgiving is a way to have a lot of fun on a bike while also helping others during the holiday season,” said event organizer Sarah Billington. “COVID-19 has caused dramatically increased demand for food assistance, and we’re trying to engage people who ride bikes to help contribute to fulfilling that need.”

Solo and team riders (up to 10) get a scavenger hunt list of tasks, like buying up to $15 in high-demand food for the Arlington Food Assistance Center and ALIVE! in Alexandria. But due to the pandemic there is no designated starting point, and participants will need to take pictures of completed tasks and share progress on social media.

Participating organizations include The Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail. A virtual award ceremony will conclude the Thanksgiving-themed event, which runs from 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

“Join your Cranksgiving family for a physically, but not socially distant Award Ceremony via Zoom to hangout, meet other participants, announce the winners, and earn fabulous prizes!” the event registration page says.

There are dozens of Cranksgiving bike events held around the country each year between September and December. The first was held in New York City in 1999.

Courtesy photo (above) from 2019

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On an early August morning in Rosslyn, fast-paced dance music played in the shopping center parking lot outside Good Sweat.

A group of ten, sitting on gray and black stationary bikes spaced over six parking spots, pedaled to the beat while coach Edgar Hernandez gave encouragement through a microphone.

“We’re gonna wake up Rosslyn this morning,” Hernandez said to the group. “Come on!”

This scene has become common for Good Sweat, an indoor cycling studio that now holds all its classes in its parking lot.

Like many other small businesses, Good Sweat has been forced to adapt how it serves customers amid the pandemic. For founder and owner Alessandra “Ali” Hashemi, moving classes outdoors was the only way to safely still conduct group exercise.

“We knew that we wanted to keep the community in the forefront,” Hashemi said. “Health and wellness are our core mission, so we want to honor that by providing people with the safest option possible for in-person group fitness.”

Good Sweat originally stopped all in-person operations in March when Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam ordered non-essential businesses to close.

Shortly after, the studio began offering virtual classes. Customers could buy access to daily Zoom live streams and pre-recorded workouts for both on and off the bike. Good Sweat also started renting out its 30 Stages SC3 bikes for at-home use.

Hashemi said the virtual option had a lot of initial participation, but riders logged off as the realities of a solo workout set in.

“It’s so hard to recreate [the feeling of a group workout],” Hashemi said. “[Good Sweat’s customers] feed off the energy of others… If you’re a group fitness person, and that’s your personality, you’re going to just do much better when you’re around others versus through a screen.”

During this virtual period, Hashemi also began negotiating with Good Sweat’s landlord to use part of the parking lot for classes. Good Sweat, like other Northern Virginia gyms, could open indoors at 30% capacity on June 12 and 75% capacity on July 1, but Hashemi chose to forgo that and have all operations outdoors starting July 4.

“Just because we can doesn’t mean we should,” Hashemi said. “Even though we can be inside, we’re really committed to staying outside as long as possible. We know that’s the safest way to [reopen].”

Good Sweat now holds 2-3 classes a day with ten riders and a coach. A majority of these classes are sold out as regular customers return and a few new ones join each day, according to Hashemi.

Another core part of Good Sweat’s business that has continued despite the hardship caused by the pandemic is its charitable giving.

Hashemi describes Good Sweat as a place where people can “sweat it out while giving back.” The business, which Hashemi said is not currently profitable, donates up to 5% of its monthly revenue to a select charity. That did not change during the virtual period, Hashemi said.

“[Charitable giving] has been something that wasn’t an afterthought and is something that is so consistent and just baked into what we do that it is not something we start and stop,” Hashemi said.

According to Hashemi, Good Sweat has donated to charities like AFAC, A-SPAN and Martha’s Table since March. Following George Floyd’s killing by police, Good Sweat gave to Black Lives Matter D.C. and the Center for Black Equity.

Recently, Good Sweat coaches have organized classes meant to raise money for timely causes. Larger portions of the proceeds go to chosen groups, which have included the Lebanese Red Cross in Beirut and Fair Fight.

“We couple [events] with action. We try to do what we can to give back. Giving money is extremely important, but also what are we doing as a community actively to support these causes?” said Hashemi.

Photo (1) courtesy Good Sweat

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This weekend, Calvary United Methodist Church in Aurora Highlands is holding a “Stuff the Truck” donation event to collect food for the Chirilagua neighborhood in Alexandria.

The community — also known as Arlandria — has faced disproportionately high numbers of COVID-19 positive patients, as have Latino and Hispanic communities in Arlington and throughout the region.

Local nonprofits have worked to get food and other emergency supplies to hard-hit Chirilagua.

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many in the Chirilagua neighborhood are experiencing hardship from job loss, sickness, and food insecurity,” Calvary UMC said in a media advisory. “Recent data revealed that over 40% of Chirilagua residents are unemployed and, in mid-May, over 55% of COVID tests taken by community members living in Chirilagua were positive.”

This Saturday, June 6, Calvalry UMC is hosting a donation event at the church (2315 S. Grant Street) from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. to fill a 20-foot truck with items most needed by Chirilagua residents and families.

“To participate, donors can come to Calvary UMC and bring donated food and supplies to place in the truck,” the church said. “Items needed most are shelf-stable foods such as rice, beans, canned food and cornflour.”

The event is the latest in a series of fundraisers and food drives for the church to support the Chirilagua community. So far, the church says it has raised $24,000 of its $25,000 goal. The church plans to make an additional $15,000 pledge to bring the total to at least $40,000, the church said.

“Donors wishing to make a financial contribution to MISSION:COVID can donate at the event or through the Calmeth.org website,” the church said, “or text GIVE to 703-936-2684 and select MISSION:COVID from the menu.”

Staff photo by James Cullum

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Several local churches have banded together to help support local residents struggling with rent.

Eight churches are pooling their resources for a joint effort called The Church At Work in Arlington. The group has raised over $105,000 that organizers say is paid directly to landlords for rent assistance.

While several local nonprofits have been coordinating with Arlington County to get resources to families in need, local churches have operated their own programs. The Church at Work in Arlington is one such program.

“In one week, we’ve raised over $105,000 to help 105 needy families with $500 rent assistance, for both April and May,” Scott Seaton, the pastor at Emmanuel Presbyterian Church said. “Tese families… have lost work due to the pandemic and can’t pay their rent. Initially, some 100 families were identified, and already we have more sponsors who are ready to help if and when more families are referred to us.”

Seaton told ARLnow that these families are vetted by social workers with Arlington Public Schools, though The Church at Work in Arlington has no ties with APS in any official capacity.

“We put word out to our church members,” Seaton said. “Some folks directly wrote a check to the landlord for efficiency’s sake. We need to get checks in the hands of landlords as soon as possible.”

The organization’s website says the group provides $500 for rent in April and another matching amount for May.

Seaton said the landlords confirm the receipt of the check and identify the residents whose rent is being covered. It’s a system that’s reliant on the integrity of local landlords, but so far Seaton said the results have been positive, like a landlord who didn’t deposit the check until he was sure which tenant was being covered, after the name had been initially misspelled.

Seaton said the churches have been long-standing partners, but that it was only with coronavirus that they put a name on their joint charity efforts.

“It was the most efficient way that churches could respond directly,” Seaton said. “It was an informal group of churches that are already in relations with each other.”

The fundraising was paused last week, Seaton said, as the APS social workers were on spring break. He expects it to pick back up this week with 77 donors ready to go.

“These are social workers with the schools [and they] have relationships with the families and know their circumstances, [we’re] going on their word,” Seaton said. “There’s no official relationship or partnership, just churches through personal relationships wanting to help as soon as possible.”

Seaton said the organization hasn’t been putting out a plea for more money and isn’t focused on fundraising at the moment, but is providing an outlet for charity through the churches.

According to the fundraising website, the eight churches participating in the effort are:

  • Restoration Anglican Church
  • Washington Community Fellowship
  • Emmanuel Presbyterian Church
  • Incarnation Anglican Church
  • St. Mary’s Episcopal Church
  • Redeemer Church of Arlington
  • McLean Bible Church: Arlington
  • Grace Community Church

Redeemer Church released a video (below) that talks a bit about the church’s work during the coronavirus crisis.

Photo via Redeemer Church of Arlington/Facebook

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(Updated at 5 p.m.) While Arlington teachers put together grocery gift cards for low-income families and nonprofits band together to address the economic impacts of the coronavirus, several local restaurateurs and the nonprofit Real Food for Kids are working to provide meals to families hit by the pandemic.

Chef David Guas, the owner of Bayou Bakery (1515 N. Courthouse Road) in Courthouse, has partnered with Real Food for Kids — a nonprofit that aims to promote healthy diets for children — to provide free, plant-based meals for Arlington children and their families.

Starting Tuesday, Guas committed to serving free lunches from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. during weekdays while Arlington Public Schools are closed, Real Food for Kids said in an email. This week the featured meal is New Orleans-style red beans and rice. Non-profit Fruitful Planet, associated with regional juice chain South Block, is also offering fresh fruit to accompany the meals.

“This is a complement to Arlington Public Schools’ efforts to serve at-risk families who are used to relying on the school lunch program,” a spokesperson for the organization said. “Many of these parents’ jobs are at risk due to the coronavirus, making a bad situation worse.”

Donations to help sustain the program can be made online. Other local organizations like the Arlington Food Assistance Center are also seeking assistance to provide food for those in need.

Separately, Joe’s Place Pizza & Pasta (5555 Lee Highway) is also offering free cheese pizzas and fresh salads to those most affected by the school closings and job cutbacks, starting tonight from 5-7 p.m. According to a press release, staff will deliver the food to the hood of cars to limit personal contact and maintain social distancing.

Medium Rare, meanwhile, has been delivering free meals to vulnerable seniors in the D.C. area since last week. The steak frites restaurant has a location in Virginia Square.

Even while hurting financially themselves, other restaurants throughout the region have been putting together specials and free meals to help families that frequently rely on school lunches have access to food during the pandemic.

Photo courtesy Real Food for Kids

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Last week a local church presented non-profit CRi with a check for $250,000 to support the building of a new home for those with mental health needs and developmental disabilities.

The donation was funded by the congregation of Grace Community Church, which holds services at Thomas Jefferson Middle School (125 S. Old Glebe Road) in Arlington.

The non-profit said the funding will assist in the construction of a new home for six people in Arlington, which will be called The Grace Home, according to a press release.

“We began this year talking about a capital campaign, not to build a building, but to build a better community,” Lead Pastor John Slye Jr. said in a video. “After a lot of discussion, research and prayer we decided to partner with CRi.”

CRi, formerly known as Arlington Community Residences, is a non-profit that provides specialized services as well as home and community support to individuals with developmental disabilities. The organization also provides mental health services and independent housing to at-risk youth who are homeless, at risk of homelessness or aging out of foster care.

“We currently have a home we’ve resided in for a long time that’s inaccessible to people as they age, so we made the decision to replace” it, CRi President and CEO Arthur Ginsberg said. The new house is currently under construction on the 2200 block of N. Glebe Road, next to the Shell station.

Image via Grace Community Church

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Arlington Agenda is a listing of interesting events for the week ahead in Arlington County. If you’d like to see your event featured, fill out the event submission form.

Also, be sure to check out our event calendar.

Tuesday, January 21

The Evolution of Political News
Westover Library (1644 N. McKinley Road)
Time: 7-8 p.m. 

Dr. Kimberly Meltzer, from Marymount University, will be speaking about her upcoming book as part of a two-part series on civic engagement. Registration is required and everyone is welcome.

Wednesday, January 22

Ballston Sip and Mingle*
Ballston Exchange (4201 Wilson Blvd)
Time: 5-7 p.m.

The Ballston Exchange invites people to a happy hour with food, drinks and a live band. The event will also include a non-profit expo where people can get involved by helping their community. Space is limited so RSVP is suggested.

Thursday, January 23

Low-Cost Rabies Vaccine & Microchip Clinic
Animal Welfare League of Arlington (2650 S. Arlington Mill Drive)
Time: 6:30-8:30 p.m.

The Animal Welfare League of Arlington encourages people to bring in their cats and dogs for a $10 rabies shot or a $35 microchip implantation.

 Friday, January 24

Mount Olivet Players: Arrivals and Departures
Mount Olivet UMC (1500 N. Glebe Road)
Time: 7:30-9:30 p.m.

The Mount Olivet Players will perform a free show for the audience that tells funny stories about airports, flight and air travel. Donations are accepted and will benefit youth summer mission trips.

Saturday, January 25

Elementary/Middle School Open House*
Our Savior Lutheran School (825 S. Taylor Street)
Time: 9 a.m.-12 p.m.

Our Savior Lutheran School is host an open house, during which families can meet school leaders, tour the facilities and learn about program offerings for kids.

Phoenix Bikes CycleBar Fundraiser
CycleBar Columbia Pike (3400 Columbia Pike)
Time: 3-4 p.m. 

This event offers people the chance to take a cycle class for a good cause. Proceeds will go to Phoenix Bikes, which teaches local youth life skills through bicycle repair. Tickets are $25 and attendees can donate more if they choose.

Sunday, January 26

Transgender Conversation Sponsored by Equality Virginia
Congregation Etz Hayim (2920 Arlington Blvd)
Time: 10:15-11:45 a.m. 

Interested members of the public can speak with people from the Transgender Advocacy Speakers Bureau. Speakers will talk about how people can live their best lives and have productive conversations with members of the LGBT community.

Burt Solomon, The Attempted Murder of Teddy Roosevelt
One More Page Books (2200 N. Westmoreland Street #101)
Time: 4-5 p.m. 

Author Burt Solomon will discuss his experience writing his new book, about an incident that looked like and accident but might have been been a presidential assassination attempt.

*Denotes featured (sponsored) event.

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Morning Notes

Amazon ‘Excited’ for HQ2 Construction — “As we look ahead to 2020, we’re excited to start construction on our first buildings and hear more from our neighbors on how our investments can benefit the entire community — and continue to hire… Today we have more than 400 employees working from our leased office space on Crystal Drive, 18th Street S and South Bell Street in Arlington.” [Amazon]

Nearly 400 Amazon Job Openings in Arlington — Amazon currently lists just shy of 400 open positions in Arlington, from systems engineers to advertising account executives to event managers. [Amazon]

APS May Bring Back Paper Report Cards — “The effort by Arlington Public Schools to go high-tech with the distribution of student report cards appears to have hit a major snag. Two School Board members on Dec. 19 expressed significant concerns, and a third offered a milder form of disquiet, with the school system’s decision to scrap printed report cards in favor of online reporting.” [InsideNova]

Yorktown Boys Basketball Still Undefeated — Yorktown High School’s boys basketball team has extended its winning ways by winning the annual Bulldog Bash holiday tournament. The team’s 10-0 run included a 24-point comeback win on Dec. 20. [InsideNova, InsideNova, Twitter]

Q&A With New Economic Development DirectorIncoming Arlington Economic Development Director Telly Tucker, in a Q&A: “I really want to first start with listening and learning about priorities and interests from all of those different entities to figure out a way to massage them into working toward common goals.” [Arlington Magazine]

Charitable Clothing Store Opens in Arlington — “There is a new option in Arlington that’s already helping hundreds of kids in need… Clothesline for Arlington Kids isn’t exactly a store. There are no price tags, and no money is exchanged. Instead, low-income children who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches can come here for clothing, free of charge.” [WJLA]

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Morning Notes

Hospital CEO Retiring Next Year — “Virginia Hospital Center President and CEO Jim Cole is stepping down after more than three decades with the organization. Cole, chief for 25 of his 35 years with the Arlington hospital, announced his retirement internally Monday. It’s set to take effect Sept. 1, 2020.” [Washington Business Journal]

County Crew Rescues Phone from Storm Drain — “So they got specialized shovels. And then the guy GOT INTO THE DRAIN and dig through the leaves, following the pinging and vibrating and found the phone! The phone was at 1% power when it came out. Still can’t believe it. Above and beyond. Kudos to Arlington County.” [Facebook/Arlington DES]

Bijan Ghaisar 911 Call Released — “Police in Arlington County, Virginia, have released part of a 911 call that set in motion a chase that ended when U.S. Park Police shot and killed Bijan Ghaisar in 2017… a caller tells Arlington County police that she is an Uber passenger whose ride-share was just involved in a crash, and the other driver, Ghaisar, has left the scene.” [WTOP, Fox 5]

It’s Giving Tuesday — Among the local nonprofits to consider donating to today, on Giving Tuesday, are: Doorways for Women and Families, Melwood, Arlington Thrive, Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network, Animal Welfare League of Arlington, Arlington Food Assistance CenterOffender Aid and Restoration, the Arlington-Alexandria Gay & Lesbian Alliance, and Culpepper Garden. [Twitter/@ARLnowDOTcom]

Del. Alfonso Lopez Named Co-Whip — “Majority Leader-elect Charniele Herring has appointed key leadership positions within the House Democratic Caucus. The whips and policy chairs will help guide the new Democratic majority through the 2020 legislative session.” [Press Release]

Ballston BID Holding ‘Cupcake Wars’ Event — “Join BallstonConnect Club and Cookology for a fun and interactive day of cupcake baking and decorating. Based on the popular Food Network show of the same name, guests will compete to create the most unique cupcake and take home the title of Cupcake Champion!” [Ballston BID]

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An Arlington bicycling group will host its first annual “Cranksgiving” charity ride to help the homeless.

Cosponsored by the Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail, the choose-your-own-adventure scavenger hunt ride will take place on Saturday, November 23 at 10 a.m. and will benefit the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network (A-SPAN).

The ride starts and ends at Ireland’s Four Courts at 2051 Wilson Blvd. in Courthouse The event is free with advanced registration required, with teams of 4-5 members are encouraged.

Once the ride begins, cyclists will design their own route based on a map of participating stores. During their stops, they’ll purchase a food, clothing, or hygiene item to donate to A-SPAN, to benefit those in need during the winter season.

Everything purchased must be hauled by bicycle, in a bag, pannier, rack, or trailer.

At the end of the event, cyclists will gather back at Ireland’s Four Courts to tally who gathered the most items, with prizes awarded to the winners.

“Cranksgiving is a way to have a lot of fun while also helping others during the holiday season,” said event organizer Judd Isbell in a press release. “We are thrilled with the number businesses and organizations who are enthusiastically supporting this event.”

Cranksgiving is held annual across over fifty cities throughout the United States around Thanksgiving. This year is the first time the free event has come to Arlington.

Participating organizations include:

  • Casual Adventure
  • Phoenix Bikes
  • Bike Arlington
  • Trader Joe’s
  • Los Tios Crystal City
  • Ireland’s Four Courts
  • Crystal City BID

Photo courtesy Chris Rief

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An Arlington couple has gifted $1.5 million to an affordable housing project county officials hope will help veterans.

Ron and Frances Terwilliger donated to the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) to help fund the redevelopment of Virginia Square’s American Legion Post 139. The aging building is slated to be demolished and rebuilt into a 160-unit, seven-story affordable housing building with a preference for veteran tenants.

Ron Terwilliger grew up in South Arlington and attended Barcroft Elementary School and Wakefield High School before joining the Navy and attending Harvard Business School. Terwilliger retired as CEO from the housing developer Trammell Crow Residential in 2008, and has since donated millions to housing causes like Habitat for Humanity, as well as Navy developments in Annapolis.

“As a child, my father worked two jobs to make sure that we had a safe, stable home right here in Arlington,” said Terwilliger in a statement.

“His sacrifices gave Bruce and I the chance to attend good schools and pursue our dreams,” he said of his brother and his upbringing. “Today, the high cost of housing puts that dream out of reach for too many families. Projects like this are essential to helping people of all incomes and backgrounds continue to call Arlington home.”

The Terwilliger Family Foundation is an Atlanta-based nonprofit which has donated around half a million dollars every year since 2011 to medical charities and other causes, according to filings shared by ProPublica.

The nonprofit’s million-dollar-donation to the American Legion Post is the largest private contribution to APAH yet, officials said today (Monday.) APAH CEO Nina Janopaul said the organization was “honored” to receive the donation and will name the new building after Ron Terwilliger’s parents, Lucille and Bruce Terwilliger.

“The redevelopment of Legion Post 139 into the Lucille and Bruce Terwilliger Place is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, and could serve as a model for other Legion posts interested in responding to the changing needs of the communities they serve,” said Janopaul.

The County Board approved the project in February, noting it was an opportunity to aid the county’s dwindling affordable housing stock. Since then, APAH and Virginia Housing Trust Fund have agreed to loan a combined $13,700,000 to the project.

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