Mariflor Ventura made headlines earlier this year for helping her Buckingham neighbors during the pandemic.
Dubbed an “Arlington superwoman” by ABC 7, Ventura has been finding and distributing donations and handing out food and basic supplies for a year — an experience that has changed her life.
But now, she is drowning in donations and buckling under the weight of unyielding need. Still, Ventura is determined to give a leg up to people who have fallen on hard times and is looking for ways to structure and sustain her work.
“I love Arlington,” she said. “Whatever I can do, I’m here.”
Ventura, who is a bus attendant with Arlington Public Schools, began helping her neighbors last year during the lockdowns when school was virtual. Through a local Facebook group, she found items for free and distributed them to her neighbors.
The network expanded quickly, especially after giving an interview in Spanish, which reached immigrant communities as far as Woodbridge.
“This year has been busier than when I started,” she said. “I’m going to have to take a vacation from the donations to spend time with my kids.”
Eventually, Ventura migrated her operation from the “Arlington Neighbors” Facebook group to her own Buckingham Mutual Aid Organization Arlington group. She recently started an Amazon wishlist to facilitate in-kind donations.
“I stopped fundraising because I don’t want to manage money,” which could open her up to criticisms about how it is spent, she said.
The Amazon wishlist goes beyond the basics. There are decorations so families could have proper graduation parties for their older kids and bubble wands, water guns and coloring books to occupy kids this summer.
All these ideas have come from Facebook group members, she said.
“They have good ideas and they like to help,” she said.
But Ventura has a wishlist of her own: A separate space for the donations, a nonprofit designation, and a regular assistant to keep track of appointments and help distribute items.
She has been considering the now-vacant apartment downstairs from her. Even the nearest storage facility is far away and the move might confuse people who are used to coming to her house. There was talk about finding a church basement, but that fell through, she said.
As it stand right now, her home is filled with donated items waiting to be given away.
“There’s no space to clean — there’s a tiny little space where we watch TV in the dining room area,” she said. “Some days, I give up and say, ‘I’m not going to do anything. I’ll just try to relax.'”
She laughs. “Normally, I’m a very organized lady. My mom taught me to have my clothes picked out for the next day.”
Ventura said some connections are working on turning the organization into a nonprofit, but that will take some time. In the interim, she imagines creating some kind of free thrift store.
The Arlingtonian knows what it’s like to have nothing. At one point, Ventura lost her job, her apartment and her car. But someone opened a door for her to start working at the county, and she worked her way up.
“From my experience, I can help more people,” she said.
She said it is hard for many immigrants to adjust to life in the U.S. — to find jobs, seek out assistance or just feel comfortable visiting a park.
“I hear from them that it’s their dream to come here, but when they come, they [realize] it’s not easy to live here,” she said. “It’s hard to find a job and if you don’t have family here, it’s harder. It’s just like they are stuck. Somebody has to help them up.”
Ventura said her neighbors are also returning the favor.
“It’s not like I’m the hero,” she said. “They see how I help and they’re helping in return.”
Protesters from a long list of advocacy groups are planning to spend a hot Thursday afternoon protesting ICE in Arlington.
The protest is set to kick off at 4 p.m. today (Thursday) in front of county government headquarters, at 2100 Clarendon Blvd in Courthouse.
The issue: police in Arlington notifying U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) about undocumented suspects under certain circumstances, and the sheriff’s office releasing notifying ICE about jail inmates for whom a detainer was signed by a judge.
The group La ColectiVA has been leading the charge over the past few months to push Arlington County officials into putting an end to such practices. Today’s protest will also target the county’s relationship with Amazon, which hosts ICE and its contractors via its Amazon Web Services cloud computing arm.
From a press release:
Community members will rally today to demand Arlington County board members take immediate action to end collaboration with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Arlington. People who have faced detention and deportation because of the Arlington County Police Department’s collaboration with ICE, their loved ones, and supporting community members and organizations will gather at the Arlington County Government Center to call on county officials to immediately end all ties with ICE.
For months, community members have been demanding Arlington County police cut ties with ICE after multiple reports of migrants getting arrested by police and transferred to ICE for deportation proceedings, including the deportation of a long-time community member who was reported to ICE by an Arlington County police officer after a fender bender. Community members who have experienced this state violence will demand county officials introduce and pass county-wide policies to end and prevent collaboration and information sharing with ICE.
The protest is also part of a week of action to highlight the collaboration between law enforcement and Amazon, a major provider of tech for police and ICE. Protestors will highlight the Arlington County Police Department’s use of technology in deporting migrants, as well as the County’s partnerships with Amazon’s AWS, which hosts ICE and its contractors.
(The deported community member referenced above was a previously deported felon who provided false identification to police after a crash, according to an ACPD spokeswoman.)
The groups taking part in today’s action, according to the press release, include: La ColectiVA, DefundNoVAPolice, For Us Not Amazon, National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, SURJ Northern Virginia, Justice for Muslims Collective, Harriet’s Wildest Dreams, Sanctuary DMV, Our Revolution Arlington, Mijente, NoVA DSA, Legal Aid Justice Center, United Students Against Sweatshops Local 54, ShutDownDC, and Media Justice.
Expect signs with slogans like “#ICEoutofArlington,” “#EyesOnAmazon,” “#NoTechForICE,” and “#DefundNoVAPolice,” per the press release.
A group of Arlingtonians has worked nights and weekends to sign up nearly 2,000 members of local immigrant communities for the COVID-19 vaccine.
And the team, called the Arlington Schools Hispanic Parents Association, only advertised its services twice: once in March, when the group decided to get involved, and once when eligibility expanded to all Virginians 16 and older.
Word spread by mouth, text and through small social networks among mostly Spanish-speaking communities in Arlington.
“For the first couple of weeks, we were overwhelmed,” said ASHPA member (and former Arlington School Board member) Tannia Talento. “In the last two weeks, it has settled down. But now that it’s open to the public, we expect a second rush.”
Talento and Janeth Valenzuela started ASHPA in 2016 with two other women to address the communication gap among the county, the school system, and Spanish-speaking and other immigrant households. During the pandemic, the group pivoted to focusing on weekly food distributions, rent support, mental health education and now, registering people for vaccine appointments through the community health center, Neighborhood Health.
“I’m very proud of my team,” Valenzuela said. “We want to help our community get vaccinated.”
It has been almost two weeks since anyone 16 and older officially became eligible to get a shot and the number of vaccinated people continues to rise in Arlington County — more than 68,000 people in Arlington are fully vaccinated as of today, according to the Virginia Dept. of Health.
Talento and Valenzuela said they did encounter vaccine hesitancy in February and March but the bigger hurdles they face involve access. They worry that hesitancy is used to gloss over these other, surmountable barriers.
“In the beginning, it was difficult. Most of the population did not want the vaccine,” Valenzuela said. “It’s part of the culture in third-world countries to talk bad about vaccines. We had to work with that and let them know the vaccine is something to open the economy in this country and get back the life they had.”
But when hesitant folks saw their community leaders get vaccinated, they changed their minds, she said. A few skeptical community members do remain, however, she noted.
Talento said she spends more time helping people access the vaccine than convincing them it is safe to take. Some did not think they were eligible back in February, even though they were.
Seniors at a pair of local retirement communities are helping seniors at Wakefield High School.
A new pilot program launched last month pairing seniors at Wakefield High School with residents from Goodwin House Alexandria and Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads in an effort to help the students complete their senior projects.
The students and residents meet virtually twice a week. The residents assist the students with finishing their senior project, a year-long research and writing project required for graduation.
Most of the Wakefield students in the program (currently, there are six) come from non-English speaking backgrounds, say Zoe Marcuse of Communities in Schools, a non-profit organization partnering on the program.
“A lot of our students in the English Language Learning Program were kind of struggling to find a mentor or someone to assist in such a big project,” Marcuse says. “[They] often have a hard time finding a mentor due to language barriers and busy work schedules.”
That’s how Meredith and Doug Wade were paired with Muhammad Ahsan.
The Wades were long-time residents of Arlington before moving a few miles down the road to Goodwin House Alexandria. They are on the outreach committee at the retirement community and when this program was presented to them, they knew they could help.
“We are parents of four now-adult kids, so we’ve been through a lot of senior projects,” says Meredith Wade. “We also just want to feel in some very small way… that we’re making a contribution in helping to make our community more welcoming.”
Ahsan moved to Arlington from Pakistan in 2016 with his family. He says he started school two weeks after moving here and it was incredibly challenging.
“I literally only knew how [to say] ‘how are you?’ and ‘thank you,” says Ahsan. “I didn’t understand the other kids. When the teacher talked, I didn’t know what [they] were saying and just followed the other students.”
His English improved quickly and things became easier, but he acknowledged that he still needed help. Between caring for his three younger siblings as well as working to support his family, school could have been an afterthought.
“At some point, you don’t think you can do it all,” Ahsan says. “If you get help, take it. It’s worth it.”
And that’s what this program is offering him, a chance to get help from those that are experienced.
The Wades say that Ahsan is such a motivated student and “charming guy,” that they feel their job is simply to encourage him, provide advice and tips, and help him work through assorted challenges.
“They are such good people,” says Ahsan about the Wades. “They are so friendly.”
Ahsan’s senior project is about the history and culture of his former home, Lahore, Pakistan. He says that he wants to know more about where he grew up.
For the Wades, they are also learning about a place that they don’t know much about.
“We’re learning a lot about Pakistan and Lahore and all the good Pakistani foods,” says Doug Wade. “Muhammad is telling us about all of these recipes.”
Ahsan is on track to graduate this summer after an admittingly tough few years. He’s already registering to take classes this fall at Northern Virginia Community College and wants to focus on computer science and information technologies.
The Wades say what they admire most about Ahsan is that he’s a role model to not only those like him, but his family.
“Muhammad has young siblings and I think this is a wonderful example for them,” says Meredith. “That you persevere and you can ask for help and it’s okay.”
Marcuse says the program has been a success and the hope is to expand it next fall.
Meanwhile, Ahsan is planning on attending in-person classes next fall at Northern Virginia Community College, which is right across the street from Goodwin House. Then, maybe, Ahsan and the Wades can meet in person.
“He promised us he was going to make us [Pakistani food],” says Doug as Ahsan chuckles in the Zoom box below. “We want to taste it all.”
Photo via Screenshot/Zoom
Vihstadt Helps ‘Our Revolution’ Join CivFed — “One of the strongest voices supporting ORA’s membership was that of John Vihstadt, former County Board member and life-long Republican. Many Republicans today consider organizations such as Our Revolution to be, at the very least, card-carrying members of ‘Antifa’… Vihstadt pointed out that, ‘although he was one of the ‘non-Democrats’ that One Revolution did not support’ in his last political outing, ORA should be admitted to CivFed because it clearly ‘contributes to the civic dialogue.'” [Blue Virginia]
Ballston Business Slated to Go Public — “Privia Health Group, Inc., a technology-driven, national physician enablement company that collaborates with medical groups, health plans and health systems, announced today that it has filed a registration statement on Form S-1 with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission relating to a proposed initial public offering of shares of its common stock… Privia Health intends to list its common stock on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the ticker symbol ‘PRVA.'” [BusinessWire]
ACPD Raising Child Abuse Awareness — “April is recognized as both Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month. ACPD is sharing information on available resources and programs in our community to help raise public awareness about child abuse and sexual violence. In support of efforts to reduce the incidences and severity of child abuse and neglect, many members of ACPD are wearing blue ribbons, pins and bracelets during the month of April.” [ACPD, Twitter]
Animal Control Helps Lost Baby Fox — From the Animal Welfare League of Arlington: “A local homeowner heard a tiny cry coming from their garden and discovered this baby fox, alone and crying for his mother… Knowing that his mom was very likely somewhere nearby, [animal control officers] placed him into a basket and placed him in a safe spot in the garden. The homeowner kept an eye on him the rest of the day, and we are happy to report that by the next morning, the mother had safely retrieved her baby!” [Facebook]
Goodbye, DCA Gate 35X — “Let’s get right to it: It was a bus station. A bus station in an airport. It was two places you’d rather not be, melded into one place… It was a funnel, a choke point, a cattle call. One gate, as many as 6,000 travelers per day. The ceilings were lower. The seats were all taken, as were the electrical outlets. There was no bathroom down there, no vending machine, no water fountain. Dante’s circles were over-invoked.” [Washington Post]
‘Arlington Superwoman’ Hailed — “She’s helped tons of local families get food on the table but her calling to give back goes way beyond food insecurity for those who are struggling during the pandemic. To some, this Arlington immigrant from El Salvador is a local hero. The struggle Mariflor Ventura has seen first hand brings her to tears.” [WJLA]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Virginia-based immigrant rights organization La ColectiVA is calling on Arlington County officials to put a stop to information-sharing between local law enforcement and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
La ColectiVA said the effort comes after learning of multiple cases in which migrant community members have been arrested in Arlington and then transferred to ICE for deportation proceedings. Through public records requests, La ColectiVA found that the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office handed those in local law enforcement custody over to ICE more than 100 times in 22 months.
“This collaboration between violent state agencies violates the dignity of our loved ones and endangers our neighbors and families who are at risk,” the organization said in a statement.
From January 2019 to October 2020, the sheriff’s office — which runs the county jail — turned 104 inmates over to ICE, upon the federal agency’s request, while releasing 21 people despite an ICE detainer. In a fact sheet providing an overview of the data, the organization highlighted local policies governing work with ICE.
The Arlington County Police Department and the sheriff’s office confirmed La ColectiVA’s findings and data with ARLnow.
The sheriff’s office does not honor ICE requests — to detain a person for up to 48 hours — unless the detainer is signed by a judge, ACSO spokeswoman Maj. Tara Johnson said. Sheriff’s office employees are instructed to notify ICE when someone with a signed detainer request is being released from jail.
“If the individual has a release date, we can typically give [ICE] 48 hours notice of the person’s release,” Johnson said in an email. “In a bond situation, we would notify ICE that the person has posted bond and they have two hours to pick them up or they will be released.”
La ColectiVA said in one instance, one person was transferred from the Arlington jail to ICE after their family had already paid bail for their release.
Without knowing the specific case, Johnson said “it’s hard to answer but this [scenario] is possible,” She said the office is reviewing its policies, including its ICE policy, as part of an annual review.
The police department also transfers people to ICE custody, including an instance when an officer called the agency after “a fender bender,” La ColectiVA said.
“These are only two examples of policies and practices that create a chilling effect on many community members, inflicting fear and deterring individuals from participating in many community and government functions,” the organization said.
Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage connected the incident LaColectiVA cited to one that occurred in August 2019. Police responded to a vehicle crash at Columbia Pike and S. Buchanan Street, where they found one of the drivers did not have a license. When he provided identifying documents, officers conducted a routine check because they suspected the documents looked fake, Savage said in an email.
The background check identified the person as a deported felon, so police contacted ICE and he was taken into custody, she said.
Police officers can only notify ICE of a possibly undocumented person under five circumstances, including if the department’s gang unit confirms the person is suspected of participating in criminal street gang activity, Savage said.
“We know that officers will abuse their discretion and put community members at risk,” La ColectiVA asserted.
In response, Savage said law enforcement “has not and will not monitor, detain, interview, or investigate a person solely for the purpose of determining their immigration status.” She said that the police department works with the community to ensure people know that they can utilize police services, including reporting crimes, without worrying about officers checking their immigration status.
In a statement, County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti said that over the last year the Board has discussed individual cases causing “real concern” with La ColectiVA and other organizations and community leaders.
Local Man Killed in Crash Near Shirlington — “At approximately 7:44 p.m. on July 3, 2020, police were dispatched to the area of Walter Reed Drive and S. Wakefield Street for multiple reports of a crash with injury. The preliminary investigation indicates that the motorcyclist was traveling southbound on Walter Reed Drive at a high rate of speed when he lost control, struck a pole and was thrown from the vehicle.” [Arlington County]
Yorktown Grad Entering Third NFL Season — “The upcoming NFL season, if it is played, will be M.J. Stewart’s third, and the Yorktown High School graduate is more than eager for this month’s training camp then the 2020-21 season to start. ‘I just want to get to training camp,’ said the 5-foot-11, 200-pound defensive back for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.” [InsideNova]
Ethiopian Community Facing Dual Challenges — “The Supreme Court on June 25 okayed the Trump administration’s policy of limiting the number of asylum seekers in the country… Most likely to feel the impact locally is the Arlington-based Ethiopian Community Development Council Inc., the refugee-support and State Department-authorized transition agency with offices just off Columbia Pike… this sub-sector of Arlington’s diverse population is among those hit hardest by the coronavirus lockdown.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Why Galaxy Hut is Not Opening Indoors — Updated at 9:10 a.m. — “We just decided ultimately that the questions are too many. Too many questions about how safe it is to be out and dine. And we didn’t feel like with our small size in particular that we would be a good candidate for trying this out. We didn’t want to take the risk.” [WJLA]
River Rescue Blocks Chain Bridge — From Sunday afternoon: “River incident the Potomac River vicinity Fletchers boathouse. Injured 18 year old who fell approximately 20 feet from rocks. Will require patient to be lowered to shoreline and transported by boat.” [Twitter]
Wardian Completes Delaware Run — “Ultrarunner Mike Wardian ran the length of the state of Delaware, starting the 130-mile (209-kilometre) route on July 2 and finishing 26 hours later. He began the run in the afternoon, just north of Wilmington, Delaware’s largest city, near the state border with Pennsylvania. He ran in [93 degree] weather straight through the night and next morning, and 26 hours, 19 minutes and 43 seconds later, he crossed the state’s southern border and ran into Maryland.” [Canadian Trail Running]
Photo courtesy Eliana Carreño
The Supreme Court issued a pair of momentous rulings this week, and Arlington’s Congressional delegation is celebrating both.
On Monday, the high court ruled that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects LGBTQ individuals from workplace discrimination. Earlier today, it blocked the Trump administration’s efforts to end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Arlington’s Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) said the DACA ruling is “a great moment” for the nation, but cautioned that more work is to be done to reform the immigration system.
Dreamers are Americans, they belong here. This ruling is a great moment for the United States. It is important to remember, though, that even with this decision from the Supreme Court very important work remains. The ball once again is in Congress’ court to pass meaningful, humane, and comprehensive immigration reform to fix our broken immigration system in ways which reflect our values as a nation of immigrants. The Senate could take a big step forward in that regard at any time by passing the Dream and Promise Act.
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) likewise cheered the decision.
President Trump’s decision to end DACA plunged hundreds of thousands of innocent young people into legal limbo and wreaked havoc upon nearly every area of American life. I’m so thankful the Court has put an end to this Administration’s ill-conceived broken promise. Congress should now pass the HEROES Act to prevent the deportation of undocumented essential workers during the pandemic and the American Dream and Promise Act to permanently protect these kids and young adults.
Earlier this week, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said via social media that the Supreme Court “did the right thing” in giving LGBTQ Americans protection against employment discrimination under law.
It was *always* wrong to fire a person simply for being gay or transgender. I’m so glad the Supreme Court did the right thing today. https://t.co/PSZwT4cA2S
— Mark Warner (@MarkWarner) June 15, 2020
(Updated at 4:30 p.m.) Coronavirus is disproportionately sickening Arlington’s Hispanic community, while disproportionately killing the elderly.
New demographic data from the Virginia Dept. of Health shows that 51% of COVID-19 cases in Arlington are among those identified as Hispanic or Latino, while according to the county only 15% of the population is Hispanic or Latino. That data only includes instances in which ethnicity was reported.
That disparity seems to be reflected in the geographic distribution of cases in Arlington. The two zip codes with the highest number of coronavirus cases and the highest test positivity rates are 22203 and 22204, both of which are home to sizable populations of Hispanic immigrants.
The demographic disparity is also reflected in statewide numbers: 46% of cases in which ethnicity is reported involve Hispanic or Latino residents, while only 9.6% of the state is Hispanic or Latino, according to U.S. Census data.
The spread of the virus among the Hispanic community is attributed, at least in part, to the fact that many are working in jobs deemed essential, in industries like cleaning, food production, retail and construction. The pandemic has also caused economic devastation for many lower-wage workers, leading to scenes like that pictured above, when on April 17 a huge crowd gathered for a food giveaway at a store on Columbia Pike.
“We have a problem, a big problem, with the level of assistance that the vulnerable Latino community is getting right now in Virginia,” former Arlington County Board member Walter Tejada told the Virginia Mercury. Tejada is president of the Virginia Latino Leaders Council.
“These are frontline workers — frontline heroes — who do not have the luxury of staying home and making a living doing Zoom conferences or teleworking. They wipe our floors, pluck feathers, pick crops, clean our rooms,” Tejada said. Other leaders quoted by the Mercury were similarly critical of the level of outreach and aid to Latinos in Virginia.
“At the County-level, there has been a concerted effort to deliver our messages in multiple languages,” said county spokeswoman Jessica Baxter. “In early April we sent a mailer to every household in Arlington providing information on steps our community needs to take to slow the spread of the virus and made it available in Spanish, and 7 other languages on our website. Public Health, along with other departments, has been using the County’s network of trusted partners to help disseminate key information.”
“Public Health also dispatches volunteers to ensure individuals with confirmed cases of COVID-19 can meet their basic needs while under isolation,” Baxter added. “This includes having groceries picked up, prescriptions refilled and delivering cleaning and medical supplies, as needed and as available.”
Baxter said that while those who are Hispanic or Latino are overrepresented in the data, it’s not as bad as it currently looks due to issues with the information reported to the state health department. As of Monday, “Hispanics represent 28% of the confirmed cases” in Arlington, Baxter said in an email sent after the initial publication of this article.
“For half of our cases, Hispanic origin is not reported,” she said. “Original information about the ethnicity (Hispanic origin) of reported cases was missing from the doctors and laboratories that submit case reports to the Virginia Department of Health. Arlington, during its case interviews, has captured this information and is backfilling the missing information.”
“Unfortunately, the disparities and the inequities existed prior to this emergency and are being reflected in the communities being hit the hardest,” Baxter added.
Those who are dying from COVID-19, meanwhile, are disproportionately the elderly.
As of Tuesday morning, the state health department reported 1,688 cases, 331 hospitalizations and 79 deaths in Arlington. Of those 79 deaths, all but five — or 94% — were among those 60 years of age or older. More than half were among those 80+.
Statewide death statistics were similarly skewed heavily toward those 60 and older.
When ethnicity was reported, only 13% of deaths in Arlington were among Latinos, despite the much higher proportion of cases.
VHC Staff Honored by NYSE — Two radiation therapists at Virginia Hospital Center, Melinda Mack and Amanda Sprecher, were honored during the opening bell ringing at the New York Stock Exchange yesterday. [Twitter]
Tomorrow is Arlington’s ‘Community Day’ — “A beloved Arlington tradition, Neighborhood Day brings communities together to enjoy the great outdoors and strengthens ties between neighbors. In our currently socially-distant world, Neighborhood Day 2020 (May 2) is swapping out the traditional outdoor get-togethers and focusing on how Arlingtonians can build community while staying apart.” [Arlington County]
Fundraiser for Shelter Employee Bonuses — “I’m raising money to benefit four emergency shelters in Arlington County. The front line staff at these organizations are heroes who risk their personal health and wellness for those most vulnerable. I want to offer each front line staff member a $5/ hour bonus for their selfless work for at least two weeks.” [GoFundMe, Facebook]
Courtland Towers Store to Become Apartments — “It’ll soon be ‘bye, bye, bodega,’ as Arlington County Board members are allowing the owner of the Courtland Towers apartments in the Courthouse area to replace its longstanding ground-floor convenience store with four additional residential units and other amenities for residents. The proposal had generated pushback from nearby residents and garnered formal opposition from the Clarendon-Courthouse Civic Federation.” [InsideNova]
Roots Closing at Pentagon City Mall — “Toronto clothing retailer Roots Corp. said Wednesday it will close both its stores in Greater Washington. The closure of outposts in Georgetown and at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City come as part of the liquidation of the apparel company’s U.S. subsidiary through a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing — a measure being taken to close the stores quickly and in a cost-effective manner, the company said.” [Washington Business Journal]
Fund Created for Local Immigrants in Need — “The Dream Project, a nonprofit organization offering educational assistance to immigrants in Northern Virginia through scholarships and mentoring, has established an emergency relief fund to help immigrant students and families who are struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” [Press Release]
Hotel Donates Rooms to County — An unnamed hotel in Arlington has donated rooms to the county to serve as Permanent Supportive Housing for up to 16 people, reducing their risk of COVID-19 exposure. [Arlington County]
Electric Bills Going Down This Month — “Dominion Energy says Virginia customers will see a $6 discount on their billing each month starting on May 1. ‘The cost of fuel has gone down and we’re passing the savings directly on to customers,’ Dominion Energy said.” [NBC 12 Richmond]
New County Initiative Tackling Hunger — “Arlington County announced a new initiative for the coronavirus era: the Cooperative for a Hunger Free Arlington. We talked to those heading the group — Abby Raphael, Diane Kresh and Amy Maclosky — about what it is and how they plan to help during these tough times.” [Facebook, Apple Podcasts]
Board Members Remember Erik Gutshall — “The four remaining Arlington County Board members – Chair Libby Garvey, Christian Dorsey, Katie Cristol and Matt de Ferranti – spent several minutes each remembering former Vice Chair Erik Gutshall, who died on Thursday after an 8-week battle with brain cancer.” [Blue Virginia]
School Board Discusses Distance Learning — “There’s both positive and negative news as Arlington Public Schools has pivoted to distance-learning in an effort to squeeze in some education during the COVID-19 lockdown. The good news? At least things have not gone as badly as in neighboring Fairfax County, where that school system’s attempt to re-start instruction collapsed in a technical debacle and ensuing recriminations last week. The bad news? Arlington school officials acknowledge that their efforts are not going to be able to replicate what could be accomplished during more normal time.” [InsideNova]
APS Names Teacher, Principal of the Year — Arlington Career Center Culinary Arts Teacher Chef Renee Randolph is the 2020 Arlington Public Schools Teacher of the Year, while Campbell Elementary’s Maureen Nesselrode has been named Principal of the Year.
Beyer Blasts Trump Immigration Order — “From the beginning Trump has flailed about seeking someone to blame for his own failure… Immigration has nearly stopped and the US has far more cases than any other country. This is just xenophobic scapegoating.” [Twitter]
Legality of County Grant Criteria Questioned — “The Arlington County government announced that it will hand out grants to small businesses based on ‘considerations’ such as whether the business is ‘women and/or minority-owned.’ That ‘consideration’ of race and sex is unconstitutional.” [CNSNews]
VRE Train Strikes Man in D.C. Near Long Bridge — “A man was hit and killed by a train in Southwest D.C. Monday morning and train traffic in the area has been stopped. The man was struck in the 1300 block of Maryland Avenue SW, the D.C. fire department said on Twitter at 7:30 a.m.” [NBC 4, Twitter]