(Updated at 2 p.m.) Arlington’s culinary school La Cocina is planning to add a cafe and a business incubator — as well as triple the number of students it teaches.
The bilingual non-profit donates healthy meals and trains Hispanic immigrants for culinary jobs. But now La Cocina is planning to move from the basement of a church near Ballston to a 5,000-square-foot space in the affordable Gilliam Place housing development at 3507 Columbia Pike, where the organization’s CEO and Founder Patricia Funegra says La Cocina will help residents cook up new businesses.
“We call it the zero-barriers training and entrepreneurship center,” Funegra told ARLnow today. “The new center will triple our capacity.”
For the last two years, she said she’s worked to raise money ($2.5 million so far) for the new space where La Cocina will continue training residents for culinary jobs — but also rent out its kitchen space and offer micro-lending to low-income entrepreneurs looking to start their own food businesses.
Funegra says the plan is also to launch a “pop-up cafe” with space for 40 seats where these burgeoning business owners can sell their offerings.
Also planned for the new space is an in-house catering business to help pull in revenue for the nonprofit.
The kitchen space itself will include six to eight prep tables and industrial ovens, fridges, and a walk-in freezer. All together, she hopes to quadruple the number of students a year from around 30 to 120.
“We are moving from a workforce development nonprofit in the food service to becoming producer of food,” Funegra said of the ambitious plans. “So there is some learning process we are going through as well.”
Funegra also hopes the new location on Columbia Pike will also allow Cocina to better reach low-income individuals who need access to healthy meals. She said the organization’s existing food donation program has given out 12,000 such meals, but they hope to give out 40,000 in the new location thanks to the bigger space and larger staff.
Currently, Cocina employs six full-time staffers. It now plans to hire another six come January, including cooks, a manager of operations for the cafe and catering service, and a social worker.
Express’s 16-year run was made memorable by the friendly men and women who would greet commuters each morning, papers in hand. Now one reader is trying to ensure they’re not forgotten.
While the Post’s Union works to try to make sure the 20 laid off Express staffers are hired elsewhere, amid a tough time for local media employment, a local IT project manager has organized a GoFundMe campaign for the 75 Express distributors, who worked for a third-party company contracted by the Post.
“In order to help these kind-hearted individuals who brightened the day of thousands of commuters for many years, we would love to see the greater community come together and offer support in order to keep them on their feet while they look for new opportunities,” wrote fundraiser organizer Annie D’Amato.
So far, more than $5,100 has been raised from nearly 150 donors.
Word about the campaign is being spread at local Metro stations, including the Courthouse station where flyers and posters were placed around the entrances Monday.
D’Amato is seeking volunteers to print the flyers and post them at more local stations. In addition to the Courthouse station, flyers were found at a number of stations in the District yesterday.
Meanwhile, some Express distributors are still working on behalf of the Post — passing out coupons for free digital subscriptions to the Post itself. At least one other returned to his usual Metro station, asking for help.
I saw the same thing outside the Brookland station. https://t.co/x8hmOMDnCu
— Martin Austermuhle (@maustermuhle) September 16, 2019
The former @WaPoExpress distributor at L'Enfant is standing outside the station this morning, wearing his branded hat and apron and with a sign explaining the paper folded and asking for help.
— Paul Connolly (@paulconndc) September 16, 2019
The GoFundMe campaign remains far from its fundraising goal, but donations continue flowing in.
“Raising $75,000 would be enough to give them each $1,000, but any amount collected above or below that goal will be distributed evenly between all of the workers,” wrote D’Amato. “Whether your commute has been made better by the friendly face and greeting of an Express worker, or you just want to help and support those in need, please consider donating to this campaign.”
APS Students Now Can Identify as Nonbinary — “Students enrolling in schools in the District, Alexandria City, Arlington and Montgomery Counties now have the option to mark their gender as ‘X’ meaning nonbinary or unspecified. That’s in addition to male or female gender categories.” [WAMU]
Traffic Delays ACFD Response to I-395 Crash — “The I-395 incident happened shortly after 1 p.m. near the Duke Street overpass. Blunt said a crash left a woman trapped inside her car, but because of bumper-to-bumper traffic and other vehicles not moving out of the way, it took crews 24 minutes to respond when it would’ve taken them just eight minutes otherwise.” [Fox 5]
Pedestrian Tunnel Closure Date Set — “The 23rd Street tunnel is scheduled to close permanently on Tuesday, Sept. 3. The Virginia Department of Transportation will mobilize its contractor to begin deconstruction of the tunnel’s above-ground structures.” [Twitter, Twitter]
Nonprofit’s Student Program Deemed Success — “AHC Inc.’s college- and career-readiness program had a 100-percent high-school-graduation rate for participating students this year. A total of 24 students living in AHC’s local apartment communities participated in the non-profit housing provider’s readiness program.” [InsideNova]
Kiwanis Sell Lots of NJ Blueberries — “Those who purchased blueberries from the Kiwanis Club of Arlington earlier in the summer weren’t alone. Nearly 10,000 pounds of New Jersey berries were sold in the fund-raiser, netting nearly $10,000 that will be used to support grants aimed at serving children.” [InsideNova]
Storm Last Week Cast a Shadow — “A storm on the western horizon is casting a shadow on a storm on the eastern horizon. It doesn’t happen often. These are photos from last Wednesday.” [Twitter]
Nearby: Scooters Face Opposition in Alexandria — “Why scooters have drawn so much ire is among the most enduring mysteries of Alexandria ‘historic character’ activism. Alexandria’s history is replete with lots of vile historic character, like being a major center in the trade of enslaved people.” [Washingtonian]
Arlington public safety personnel are again organizing a 5K race for a good cause, in memory of those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001.
The 18th annual Arlington Police, Fire and Sheriff 9/11 Memorial 5K will be held on the evening of Saturday, Sept. 7. This year, the race will raise money for two organizations:
- HEROES, which is “dedicated to aid families of law enforcement officers and firefighters who have died in the line of duty in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.”
- The Pentagon Memorial Fund, which is working to build a new visitor center.
The race will be held at 6 p.m. on Sept. 7, with a start and finish near the DoubleTree Hotel in Pentagon City (300 Army Navy Drive) and a course that winds around the Pentagon. Registration is $40 through Sept. 4.
“Since its inception, the Arlington Police, Fire & Sheriff 9/11 Memorial Race has had over 40,000 runners cross its finish line and has raised over $800,000 for 9/11-related charities,” the race’s website says. “Our goal is to donate over 1 million dollars and to host the 20th Anniversary 9/11 Race on Saturday, September 11, 2021.”
The post-race festival, in front of the DoubleTree Hotel, includes music and free food and drink for participants.
The campaign started the day after the flood by a customer at Ayers Variety & Hardware (5853 Washington Blvd) with an initial aim of $25,000. As of today, the campaign has raised $77,231 out of a new $100,000 goal.
The first $70,000 collected for the campaign is planned to be released sometime this week, according to the GoFundMe page, with Ayers set to receive 41 percent of the proceeds while Westover Market and Beer Garden (5863 Washington Blvd) will receive 35 percent of the proceeds. The two businesses were the most heavily hit by the flooding.
Additionally, the Forest Inn is planned to receive 15 percent of the proceeds, while Grand Hunan Restaurant, Blue Groove Soundz, and Pete’s Barbershop will all receive 3 percent.
The GoFundMe page pledged that 100 percent of funds collected will be delivered directly to the merchants by cashier’s checks drawn on a Wells Fargo donation account.
On the surface, business as usual has resumed in the stores on the north side of the 5800 block of Washington Blvd. But all of the stores faced days without sales, and some are still dealing with the damages invisible from the street.
An employee at Ayers Variety & Hardware said the staff is still working to clear away flood-damaged items from the store’s basement, which held all of the store’s stock and was filled to the ceiling with water. Behind the store, rows of ruined merchandise are stacked near the trash disposal.
Kristy Peterkin, a manager at Ayers Variety & Hardware, estimated the storm caused at least $100,000 in damages to their merchandise.
Staff at Pete’s Barbershop said the store was without power — and without business — for five days.
The campaign is scheduled to end in August.
Tickets to the Whitlow’s event are $20 at the door. Raffle prizes, food and drink specials, and live music planned for the occasion.
A fundraiser for the Westover residents is planned this coming Friday, Aug. 2, from 6-9 p.m. at the Westover Market and Beer Garden. The event will feature live music and a tap takeover by Founders Brewing.
(Updated at 2:55 p.m.) Cherrydale’s volunteer fire house is set to celebrate the 100th anniversary of its construction in 1919 this weekend.
The Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department will host festivities and a fundraiser for the anniversary this Saturday (July 20) from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. The Central Firehouse, owned the Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department, is the oldest in Arlington and recognized by the National Register of Historic Places as a local historic landmark.
A parade will kick off the Saturday celebration at 10 a.m. starting from Saint Agnes Catholic Church (1910 N. Randolph Street). The remainder of the festivities will be held at the firehouse (3900 Lee Highway). All activities are open to the public.
For kids, volunteers will set up a bouncy house and firetruck demonstrations after the parade.
Tours of the fire house and swing dance lessons will be available throughout the day, according to spokeswoman Elise Nelson. Radio station 94.7 FM The Drive will broadcast live from the event.
(Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department members are trained as firefighters and medics. They sometimes ride along with professional crews from the Arlington County Fire Department and provide some support services to ACFD during incidents, but do not currently fight fires, according to the local firefighters union. The Cherrydale VFD disputed the assertion that its members do not fight fires, but did not directly answer a request from ARLnow to provide a recent example of a VFD member engaged in fire suppression operations alongside ACFD.)
A chili cook off, a raffle, bingo and various games will wrap-up the evening. Guests can use a donation to vote for their favorite chili, made by members of the volunteer fire department. Prizes for raffles and bingo include gift basket from 35 partnering businesses.
The celebration will take on a more serious note mid-afternoon as firefighters who served during 9/11 will share their experiences with the audience, and the organization will remember Marvin Binns, a former member of the Cherrydale VFD. A plaque will be presented and hung on the wall along with his uniform. Binns died of cancer in 2015, according to his obituary.
“His inspiring 62-year legacy included many years of leadership as President, and 36 years bringing Santa to the station — making him a cherished figure for countless generations,” Nelson said.
The Cherrydale Fire Department began with a group of 12 men after they came together to battle a small fire, according to public library records. Over time, Cherrydale VFD grew as an organization and today has 50-60 members in its ranks. Though Arlington County took over responsibility for everyday emergencies, most of the members have emergency medical technician training and can assist police or other firefighters whenever a need may arise. They also help local authorities with lighting at emergency scenes and events.
The Saturday event will double as a fundraiser and proceeds will go towards the refurbishment of the fire house. Nelson said that the building needs foundational repairs as well as cosmetic retouches.
As a historical landmark, Nelson said that the building requires special attention from an expert familiar with refurbishing old buildings, which often comes at a higher cost.
“We can’t do anything that would go against that historical precedent,” she said.
For example, to repair crumbling brickwork on the outside of the building, they were quoted a cost of $50,000.
According to the book “The Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department: A History” by author Kathryn Holt Springston, former President Woodrow Wilson and his wife each purchased a brick for the fire house during a fundraising event when it first opened. But, Wilson’s brick was later stolen.
Today, the building serves as a center for the Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department and as a gathering space for community members. There is a gathering hall which is available to rent for weddings, banquets, parties or other events.
Nelson said that the group hopes to raise $100,000 in 2019 to keep the Cherrydale fire house running for at least another century.
Photos courtesy of Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department
(Updated on 07/22/19) Office Vacancy Rate Dropping — “The commercial vacancy rate in the County continues to improve. The vacancy rate as of the second quarter of 2019 stands at 16.6%, down nearly 5% from its historic high of 21% in 2015. Arlington Economic Development also announced it successfully closed 26 deals in FY 2019, representing 7.2 million square feet of office space and 43,000 jobs.” [Arlington County]
County Adopts New Bathroom Policy — “The Arlington County government has adopted what amounts to a […] policy for government-building restrooms and locker rooms. The policy, outlined to County Board members on July 16, will formally allow any individual to use a male or female restroom ‘that corresponds with gender identity or expression,’ county staff said.” [InsideNova]
Human Remains Found Near GW Parkway — Human remains, in a skull, have reportedly been found near the GW Parkway and Reagan National Airport, in the same area where a D.C. cadaver dog was hurt earlier this week, prompting a medevac flight. The dog is now recovering from serious injuries. U.S. Park Police are investigating the source of the remains. [Fox 5, Washington Post, WTOP]
New Provost, Plans for Marymount — “Marymount is proud to welcome the university’s new Provost, Hesham El-Rewini, Ph.D., P.E., who officially begins his duties on campus this week… ‘We have bold plans for the future of Marymount as we strive to become an elite Catholic institution that is nationally recognized for innovation,’ said Dr. Irma Becerra, President of Marymount University.” [Marymount University]
GoFundMe for Westover Residents — A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to benefit residents of Westover whose homes were damaged by flash flooding last week. So far more than $8,000 has been raised. [GoFundMe]
Big Crane Assisting With DCA Project — “A 250 ft. crane is being used to lift and put steel into place for a new 14-gate concourse that will replace Gate 35X” at Reagan National Airport. [Twitter]
Pentagon City Apartment Sold for Big Bucks — “Dweck Properties Inc. has picked up another multifamily property in Pentagon City, not far from where Amazon.com Inc. is settling into its second home. A Dweck affiliate paid $117 million July 9 for the Park at Pentagon Row, a 299-unit apartment building at 801 15th St. S.” [Washington Business Journal]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
It seems like summer break just started, but some local organizations are already pitching in to help at-risk students prepare for the upcoming school year.
Arlington-based Offender and Aid Restoration and Verizon Wireless retailer TCC are two of the organizations that are setting up drives for backpacks and other classroom necessities in Arlington.
TCC’s program, School Rocks Backpack Giveaway, first started in 2013. The program has donated 950,000 backpacks stocked with school supplies since its founding. TCC asks that on July 24 from 1 p.m-4 p.m. community members drop off backpacks and supplies at participating stores, including a store at 3141 Lee Highway
Offender Aid and Restoration, which works to improve the lives of the incarcerated population through educational programs, community service opportunities and reentry services into society, is also organizing a backpack drive.
Until August 12, Project Backpack, sponsored by OAR, will collect school supplies for children and deliver them with a note of encouragement from their incarcerated parent.
“It is so crucial to maintain strong family bonds while a parent is incarcerated for both the child and the parent,” said OAR’s executive director. “Incarceration not only affects the person going through the system, but everyone closest to them as well.”
Anyone interested can also donate to the Project Backpack cause online. Community members may also drop off items physically or mail them to OAR’s Arlington office at 400 N. Uhle Street, Suite 704, Arlington, VA 22201.
A week after devastating flash flooding, the lights are coming back on for some affected businesses in Arlington.
SER Restaurant in Ballston, which was inundated by water coming through the ceiling during the Flash Flood Emergency, is planning to reopen at 5 p.m. today (Monday), co-owner Christiana Campos told ARLnow.
The reopening comes after the local community rallied to raise more than $10,000 for SER in a GoFundMe campaign. SER says the donations are being used to help fund needed repairs while the owners work through the insurance claim process.
“Thanks to our hard working staff, our construction crew who have been working around the clock to fix the damage and thanks to the humbling outpouring of support from the community, we are so thrilled to being opening today,” Campos told ARLnow. “The power of this community is truly incredible.”
In Westover, where floodwaters destroyed merchandise and knocked out power, the two hardest-hit businesses — Westover Market and Beer Garden, and Ayers Variety and Hardware — first reopened in a limited fashion on Wednesday. Over the weekend, Westover Market announced it was back on utility power and off generators.
“Finally! Regular hours going forward!” the store exclaimed on Facebook. “Limited fresh produce [and] meats have been delivered! Every day we’ll inch closer to 100%. Thanks so much for all the incredible support! We need it! And please send support and prayers to the other businesses affected by the storm!”
A GoFundMe campaign for the Westover merchants has raised more than $67,500.
Also in Westover, the weekly farmers market was held over the weekend, thanks to quick repairs to 18th Street N., which was damaged by the flooding. On Saturday, the director of the company that organizes the market wrote the following letter to Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz, lauding the dedicated repair crews.
Mr. Schwartz —
I was notified late this afternoon that the emergency street repairs on 18th Street N. have been completed. Our nonprofit organization is very grateful for the County’s quick response to address the street damage caused by the torrential rain last Monday morning…
This section of the roadway serves on Sunday mornings as a key part of the Westover Farmers Market. We have been in contact with vendors all week regarding whether the Westover Farmers Market could take place, given the roadway damage caused by the storm. This evening I was able to send them an “all clear” message. So tomorrow morning’s market should run without a hitch. […]
Please send our thanks to the personnel in the Department of Environmental Services and to the contractors who assist them for a job well and quickly done. The neighbors who shop each week at this farmers market will benefit from their outstanding efforts this week.
Rob Swennes, Executive Director
Field to Table, Inc.
“The water apparently came through faulty drains in the building’s third floor balcony, spread through the third and second floors, and then seeped into every corner at SER,” owner Javier Candon wrote on the GoFundMe page. “We are at a loss about the physical and emotional toll this has taken on us and our entire SER family.”
The Spanish restaurant has so far raised more than $2,500 after launching the campaign Thursday. The current fundraising goal: $65,000.
Candon told ARLnow he was “weighing his options” on how best to move forward.
“We are all devastated,” he said via email. “We have been closed all week impacting not only our guests and the parties we’ve had to cancel, but our hard working staff. Everything was damaged in the restaurant as water seeped in everywhere… the furniture, our bar, our ceiling tiles, equipment, etc.”
“We want to remain in the building as this feels like home to us and to all our loyal guests,” he said of the numerous issues the restaurant has faced. “We are hoping to continue to work closely with the landlord to resolve the water issues in the building… The safety of our staff and our guests is paramount to us and we are hoping the landlord will resolve the water issues in the building once and for all.”
Candon said he is filing insurance claims but there’s uncertainty about what will be paid and when. In the meantime, SER is facing mounting costs and will use the GoFundMe proceeds to “to get the restaurant open ASAP.”
“Unfortunately, we don’t have the luxury to wait for the claims to begin reconstruction,” he said.
Two and a half days after Monday’s storm dumped over three inches of rain across the region in an hour, Arlington County declared a state of emergency. Since then, at least 200 affected residents and 15 business owners have filed claims for aid with the county, reported ABC 7.
The county’s emergency declaration opens up the possibility of state and federal aid, but the declaration still needs to be finalized by the Arlington County Board — and even if approved by state and federal authorities it’s not clear what would would qualify for aid and how much.
SER isn’t the only business raising money online for post-storm recovery.
A resident raising money for flooded Westover stores blew past a $25,000 fundraising goal in less than a day, stretching the goal to $100,000 to help cover the damage caused and merchandise lost when flood waters filled basements and knocked out power.
As of 11 a.m. this morning, the Westover GoFundMe campaign raised about $55,000 to support the damaged shops.
Video via GoFundMe
(Updated at 3:45 p.m.) One day after a GoFundMe campaign launched to support Westover stores hit by Monday’s flooding, the fundraiser has passed its initial aim of $25,000 and has moved towards a new $100,000 goal.
Flash floods on Monday left stores on the north side of the 5800 block of Washington Blvd ankle-deep in water, with basements filled to the ceiling with water. Kristy Peterkin, a manager at Ayers Variety & Hardware, estimated the storm caused at least $100,000 in damages to the merchandise. Days after the storm, power still hasn’t been restored and most of the stores on the block remain closed.
As of 3:45 p.m., the GoFundMe campaign had raised more than $34,000 to help Ayers and Westover Market and Beer Garden, two stores that were particularly hard hit by the flooding.
According to the GoFundMe page:
Part of the Westover Shopping Center — Ayers Hardware, the Westover Beer Garden and other shops — was deluged. The businesses’s main levels and storage basements were inundated with water. These businesses are the heart and soul of the Westover community. I am hoping neighborhood residents and folks across Arlington County will contribute to this campaign to help the businesses cover cleanup costs, property repair costs, inventory damage costs and associated loss-of-business costs.
In the comments, donors shared their stories of shopping at Ayers or dining at Westover Market.
“The Beer Garden and Westover folks always took care of us, so let’s take care of them in their time of need,” one donor said.
— Paulo Mendes (@Paulojmendes1) July 8, 2019
The shops in Westover Village are still a long way from recovered. Power to the block was routed through the basements of Ayers and Westover Market, which means the flooding has left the entire row of businesses without power.
Ayers is half-lit by power running through a generator in the back. Lights are on at Westover Market but an employee at the store said they were still closed. The Italian Store, the spot furthest east and at the highest elevation on the block, is running on generator power.
Peterkin said nearby cafes and restaurants have been chipping in to make meals for the hardest-hit businesses. It’s been just one part of what Peterkin said was an amazing community response to their crisis.
Peterkin said Ayers was not in any way involved with creating or running the GoFundMe, and said the store would leave the distribution of the funds raised to the person who organized the campaign, noting that it was started after one of the store’s longtime customers who came in and asked permission to launch the fundraiser.
A comment on the GoFundMe said that the store would not be taking financial contributions, but Peterkin made it clear that was not the case. Others who didn’t want to support the store through GoFundMe have come by and dropped off a contribution in person.
“We’ll take all the help we can get,” Peterkin said.
People have volunteered to come and help clean, but growing risk of mold and mildew has meant anyone journeying down into the waterlogged basement needs a breathing mask in addition to a flashlight.
“An injury lawsuit would really be the last straw,” Peterkin said.
Even as they work to get the store back into working order, Peterkin said palettes of new merchandise ordered before the flood are still arriving, but with nowhere to put them with the basement out of commission.
Ayers faces at least $100,000 in losses just from damaged merchandise in the flooded basement, Peterkin said, adding that there will be additional expenses to repair the basement. The store is not protected by flood insurance.
“We didn’t think we’d need it in Arlington,” Peterkin said.