Vornado Scraps Development Proposals — Ahead of the closing of its merger with JBG, Vornado has indefinitely put on hold a number of development proposals, including: all but one building of its proposed RiverHouse development in Pentagon City; a revamp of the shops at 1750 Crystal Drive that was to include a new 12-screen multiplex; and a pair of retail pavilions at 2101 and 2201 Crystal Drive. [Washington Business Journal]
Arlington a ‘Best City’ to Go Car-Free — According to a new list in Forbes, Arlington County is one of the top 25 U.S. cities for one to live without a car. Arlington was also one of nine places whose walkable neighborhoods were profiled in the magazine. [Forbes]
Video of Apartment Fire — The weekend fire at the Serrano apartments on Columbia Pike was caught on video. The dramatic video shows firefighters arriving and starting to douse the flames with water. [Statter 911]
‘Taming of the Shrew’ Review — A review of Synetic Theater’s new production of Taming of the Shrew says the physical theater performance “speaks colorful volumes” despite the lack of dialogue. [Broadway World]
Leadership Change at Community Foundation — Arlington Community Foundation Executive Director Wanda Pierce is stepping down next month after eight years of leading the local nonprofit.
Flickr pool photo by Lisa Novak
Clarendon Ballroom Battles Alt-Right Blitz — After beating up on Arlington’s Dept. of Parks and Recreation earlier this month, the alt-right faction seeking to hold inauguration rallies and parties in Arlington has focused its attention on the Clarendon Ballroom. The Ballroom, one alt-right leader alleges, turned away their planned “DeploraBall” due to political pressure. The Ballroom, however, says the organizers never actually signed a contract. Since then, the Ballroom has been receiving “hundreds of slanderous, dangerous, vulgar and threatening posts and tweets,” along with threatening phone calls. [NBC Washington, Washington Post]
Library Director’s Christmas Playlist — Arlington Public Library Director Diane Kresh has released her annual “mix tape of seasonal favorites” on the library blog. This year’s list is a Spotify playlist that starts with Diana Krall’s rendition of “Let It Snow” and concludes, on a unique-to-2016 note, with “World Spins Madly On” by The Weepies. [Arlington Public Library]
Six Fired by Metro in EFC Derailment — Following an investigation, Metro has fired six track inspectors and supervisors and demoted several others in the wake of July’s East Falls Church train derailment. Additional firings are in the works. [WJLA]
Arlington Community Foundation Grants — The Arlington Community Foundation has approved grants to 26 local nonprofits and school, totally nearly $100,000. [Patch]
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.
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.”
The Arlington Community Foundation is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year in style.
The nonprofit, which awards scholarships to local students and grants to community groups, is holding a gala fundraiser Saturday night at the Ritz-Carlton in Pentagon City.
The event is changing its format this year — instead of a sit-down dinner, there will be food, wine, beer and dessert tastings from a number of local restaurants and stores, thus encouraging guests to move around and mingle. Among those slated to be mingling: chef and prolific restaurateur Mike Isabella.
The event will have a silent auction, as usual, but this year it will feature a four-night stay for four people at a castle in a Tuscany, Italy vineyard, donated by Total Wine, which is opening a new store in Ballston. The stay is valued at $5,000.
Music at the event will be primarily by the band Marquise. The full press release about the event is below.
The Arlington Community Foundation will host its 25th Anniversary Gala on May 14 at The Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City. The Foundation has been serving the Arlington community in the areas of scholarships and grantmaking through the management of charitable funds for 25 years.
With an exciting “Celebrate Community” theme, this year’s gala promises to be a one-of-a-kind evening featuring culinary delights and gourmet tastings presented by local chefs. You can also expect wine tastings by Barrel Oak Winery; craft beer tastings by The Brew Shop; and desserts by local bakeries – Artisan Confections, Bakeshop, Buzz Bakeshop, The Cheesecake Factory, Clement’s Pastry Shop, Heidelberg Pastry Shoppe, LeoNora Gourmet Bakery, Northside Social, Pastries by Randolph, Livin’ The Pie Life & Whole Foods.
There is an exciting auction planned for the evening, featuring unique items that have never been offered before, as well as bringing back some very popular items from past events. The celebration will also feature the unveiling of a new video – “Arlington: Past, Present and Future” – featuring interviews with Foundation founder the Honorable William T. Newman Jr., current executive director Wanda Pierce, and past chairs of the organization.
The Foundation is honored to have this year as Gala Co-Chairs Mr. & Mrs. John & Marcia Shooshan and Mr. & Mrs. Brad & Cathy Coyle. “We continue to be impressed by, and grateful for, the outpouring of support to make this year’s gala a success,” Cathy Coyle said. “There are so many people . . . [who] have gladly and generously donated time, energy and resources.”
“They are bringing a tremendous amount of energy and creativity to the event,” said Wanda Pierce, Executive Director of the Foundation. “They are leading a committee that is bringing a different look and feel – it will be the event of the year! We are looking forward to a fun evening to raise funds that will enable the Foundation to continue operating and supporting the stellar work of nonprofits and deserving students in the area.”
County Board Work Sessions to Be Broadcast — Arlington TV, the county government’s cable channel, will begin broadcasting County Board work sessions on cable and online this month. First up: the riveting County Board work session on the FY 2017 budget, scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday. [Arlington County]
Meal Delivery Startup Now Serving Part of Arlington — Galley, a D.C.-based meal delivery startup, says it just expanded its delivery area to include Rosslyn, Courthouse and Clarendon.
ACPD Focusing on Heroin Use and Addiction — The Arlington County Police Department is joining other law enforcement agencies around the region in an initiative to try to curb the distribution, possession and use of heroin. For those battling addiction, there are a number of treatment options in Arlington. [Arlington County]
Schneider to Lead Thrive — Former Democratic County Board candidate Andrew Schneider has been named the new Executive Director of Arlington Thrive, effective today. Thrive is a nonprofit that provides same-day financial assistance to residents in crisis.
Board Thanks Legislators for Hotel Tax Bill — The Arlington County Board is offering its thanks to the state legislators who successfully shepherded Arlington’s hotel tax surcharge reauthorization through the Virginia General Assembly. [Arlington County]
Arlington Neighborhood Villages (ANV), a nonprofit helping older residents stay in their homes, is looking for volunteers and members.
Arlington Neighborhood Villages is holding an open house on Wednesday, Oct. 14 from 6-8 p.m. to inform people about the services it provides for older Arlington residents, as well as the volunteer opportunities it has.
The event will be held at National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (4301 Wilson Blvd).
“Celebrate ANV’s growth and bring your friends and neighbors to learn how they can continue to live in their homes and communities as they age,” the nonprofit, which launched a year and a half ago, said on the event page.
There will be light refreshments and a raffle. Members and volunteers can win a $25 gift card by bringing a friend who then joins ANV.
ANV helps Arlington residents, ages 55 and up, stay in their homes by providing them with social and educational outings, transportation and daily check-in calls. The organization relies on volunteers to help provide the transportation, run errands for older residents, do house check ups while people are away and perform household tasks, such as changing light bulbs or smoke detector batteries.
(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.
“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
Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) was treated to a special meal when he visited La Cocina, a bilingual culinary school for the unemployed or underemployed: crickets.
Beyer visited the Hispanic-oriented culinary school in the basement of Mount Olivet Church (1500 N. Glebe Road) near Ballston yesterday, where he learned more about the school’s mission and heard from a couple of the six current students.
“This is very exciting,” Beyer told the students.
For his visit, the students, under Chef Instructor Alberto Vega, prepared a green salad with honey-crusted crickets and gluten-free chocolate chip and cricket cookies.
Crickets add protein into the people’s diets, La Cocina Executive Director Patricia Funegra said during a presentation. Crickets are also a sustainable food and La Cocina is working to encourage healthy and sustainable food into modern diets, Funegra said.
“We have to start thinking about that [sustainable food] in a very serious way,” Funegra said.
La Cocina is both a school and a food assistance program. The students prepare meals and then deliver them to residents of local affordable housing communities in a partnership with Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing.
All meals prepared are made with healthy foods, in hopes of fighting obesity, which plagues the Hispanic community, Funegra said. Meals contain 50 percent fruit and vegetables and 50 percent lean proteins, according to La Cocina’s website.
Yesterday, the students prepared a salad and spaghetti and turkey meatballs for the residents. Beyer helped the students by ladling the meatballs. He then joined them in handing out the meals to families.
La Cocina has seen a lot of success with its program, Funegra said. The last class had 100 percent completion and job placement. The current class is the school’s third.
“To have 100 percent completion is something to be proud of,” she said.
The school teaches bilingual culinary skills, sanitation practices, English needed for culinary work and life, and employment skills, such as working in a team. The school does not charge tuition and provides all the materials for the students, including a travel stipend, Funegra said.
Students come from the entire D.C. area, with some coming as far as Germantown, Maryland.
The Arlington Food Assistance Center has been exploring ways to serve hungry families in Arlington by partnering with local businesses and larger corporations.
To that end, AFAC recently started Sponsor Purchased Food, a program through which corporations can buy produce, package it and donate it to AFAC as a team-building exercise.
“That helps us in a lot of different ways,” said AFAC executive director Charles Meng. “It certainly gets our name out in the public more. It engenders a donation. And it involves a lot of individuals who then tend to become donors once they find out what we do.”
Meng says the program has been “very successful,” with over 50 corporations participating in the past few months. AFAC plans to continue the program well into next year.
Currently, AFAC serves 2,100 families in the area and dispenses about 86,000 pounds of food per week at 18 distribution sites across Arlington. According to Meng, the number of people AFAC serves has doubled since 2013 and is currently increasing at a rate of about 25 families per month.
Last Friday, July 24, AFAC and Spotluck, a Bethesda company that created an app to connect people with local restaurants, worked together to put on a potluck dinner for 130 Arlington residents in need at the Gates of Ballston apartment complex (4108 4th Street N.)
Twenty-two restaurants around Arlington donated food to the potluck, including Sushi Rock, Don Tito, The Boulevard Woodgrill, Faccia Luna and Whitlow’s on Wilson.
Meng said that the event with Spotluck — documented in the video above — was a success.
“All of those restaurants [that donated] did a fantastic job, and the Spotluck people were really great to work with, and they were really enthusiastic,” said Meng. “When people actually get a chance to hand out food to somebody and see the people they’re helping, it gets the message across a lot easier and a lot more directly to the individual, so it’s really great to have a company like Spotluck working with us.”
Currently, about half of AFAC’s money and food come from individual donations. Of the remaining 50 percent, about eight percent comes from Arlington County, 10 percent come from local religious congregations and the rest come from local businesses, foundations and larger corporations.
“We’ve got tremendous support from a lot of the businesses here in Arlington,” said Meng.
Photos courtesy AFAC. Disclosure: Spotluck is an ARLnow.com advertiser.
Last week, Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, announced a $5 million donation to a non-profit right here in Arlington.
The announcement came via a Facebook post to Zuckerberg’s 32.7 million followers which has reached 153,072 likes and counting.
The organization in question, TheDream.US, is a scholarship fund designed to help undocumented immigrants realize their dreams of going to college in the United States. The brainchild of Don Graham, CEO of Graham Holdings Company and former publisher of the Washington Post, the non-profit has made its home in Graham’s Rosslyn offices for the past two years.
Through his work with other education-based charities in the area, Graham says he learned that there were many such undocumented students in the D.C. metro area, particularly in Northern Virginia.
These students are commonly called DREAMers after the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act that has been proposed several times since 2001 but has yet to pass in Congress. DREAMers are unable to receive federal aid to continue their education. In most states they are also not eligible for in-state tuition, which can make going to college prohibitively expensive.
“Certainly in Arlington County, almost every high school student has classmates who are DREAMers, and they quickly come to understand the unique cruelty of the situation of these students,” Graham told ARLnow.com. “They can be the valedictorian, they can be the president of the class. All the other low-income students in the class get U.S. government assistance in going on to higher education, and these students cannot.”
Graham says his organization was empowered to tackle this issue head-on after President Barack Obama announced Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals in 2012. DACA allowed undocumented immigrants who had come to the United States when they were children to obtain a Social Security number, a driver’s license and temporary legal status, renewable after two years.
In the summer of 2013, Graham, program director Gaby Pacheco and Henry Muñoz III gathered people together and proposed the idea of a scholarship program to enable those who had obtained DACA status to go to college. Amanda Bennett and Carlos Gutierrez joined Graham and Muñoz in founding TheDream.US, which officially launched on Feb. 4, 2014.
TheDream.US currently partners with about 60 colleges across the U.S. Pacheco says they look for schools located in areas with high concentrations of undocumented students, where you can get a good education for around $25,000 (the scholarship amount offered by the non-profit). In Virginia, TheDream.US partners with Northern Virginia Community College and George Mason University.
The fund currently has $81 million, including donations in the millions from Graham, Zuckerberg, Bill Ackman and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. TheDream.US also allows donors to specify where they want their money to go: for example, Zuckerberg’s $5 million donation was earmarked for students in the San Francisco Bay Area. Pacheco believes this ability to ask that their money be set aside for their own region attracts donors to the organization.
“People love to be able to help out in their own community,” she said. “Many affluent people have foundations in their names or their family names, so we target them and say, ‘look, we can bring a scholarship program to your area.'”
Graham says that as of now, the organization expects to see at least 3,000 students graduate college, but that he “would like to raise more money and make it at least 5,000, and possibly go from there.”
Another part of the organization’s mission is to tell these students’ stories. TheDream.US is doing this through their stories project, which spotlights the lives of notable DREAM scholars. Interns Julia Leibowitz and Sadhana Singh (a current DREAMer) are working on the project this summer in the Rosslyn office.
“For us, it’s really about leveling the field for these young people to go to college,” said Pacheco. “We’re going to allow our numbers to speak for themselves, and show that we are helping meet the gap for people needed in various fields.”
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) visited La Cocina VA yesterday, a nonprofit program that gives Hispanic immigrants bilingual, culinary job training in the basement of an Arlington church.
Below Mt. Olivet United Methodist Church (1500 N. Glebe Road) yesterday afternoon, Kaine — who speaks fluent Spanish after spending a year in Honduras before entering politics — met with the program’s leaders and participants, eager to learn more about the benefits it provides.
“This is an important program for a lot of reasons,” he said. His father was a welder and, when he was in Honduras, Kaine taught welding to the locals. “Teaching students in Honduras taught me a lot about technical education. People need skills you can’t get in the classroom.”
Kaine walked into the building and introduced himself to the program’s five current trainees and head chef, Diego Rojas, a U.S. Army veteran. He also met with graduates of the program, one of whom, Jose Hernandez, now works as a line cook at Le Meridien in Rosslyn.
Hernandez said when he came to Arlington and graduated high school, he was afraid to speak in English because he wasn’t as comfortable with the language as Spanish, and he was teased by classmates for his lack of proficiency.
“Now I’m more confident,” he said. “Now I’m training people in preparing salads and doing well in the kitchen.”
La Cocina not only trains its enrollees on how to work in a commercial kitchen, it also provides language skills to interact with coworkers and customers. It provides job placement services — Whole Foods has recently partnered to offer monthlong paid internships with the potential for a full-time position — and the environment Rojas and Founder/CEO Patricia Funegra cultivate generate leadership skills and confidence.
“This kitchen is like the garage Steve Jobs started in at his parents’ house,” Funegra said. “It’s one big step to get into the industry.”
While they are training, the cooks make thousands of meals provided to low-income families. La Cocina also focuses on health education, both for the trainees and the communities at large; 50 percent of every meal is made up of fruits and vegetables, Funegra said.
“This program is opening up doors I wouldn’t get anywhere else as a Hispanic woman,” one of the trainees said, according to a translator. “When we leave, we will be a voice for others.”
After a 45-minute discussion, Rojas and his trainees took Kaine to the kitchen, where they prepared meals of turkey cutlets, roasted squash and carrots made with turkey stock, plus sautéed onions, carrots and green beans.
Public Defender Decries Pay Gap — Arlington’s deputy public defenders can make up to $33,000 less than their counterparts at the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office. Chief Public Defender Matthew Foley said the gap creates an unfair balance, one that allows the deputy Commonwealth’s attorney to grow their salaries on the job and talented public defenders — whose wages are locked in — are leaving the office. He called it “an unfair game going on with people whose liberties are at stake” at the Arlington County Board’s budget public hearing. [Connection Newspapers]
Fairfax Car Chase Result of Arlington Warrants — Updated at 1:05 p.m. — A car chase that broke out at the same time as yesterday’s manhunt was also the end result of Arlington police work. Lakisha Tracy was apprehended in Fairfax County yesterday morning after leading police on a high-speed chase that ended on Fairfax County Parkway in Lorton. Tracy was arrested on outstanding warrants for credit card and identity theft in Arlington County. [Washington Post]
Behind Arlington’s Meals on Wheels Program — Our Man in Arlington columnist Charlie Clarks goes behind the volunteers and beneficiaries of the Meals on Wheels charity, which was started in the county 44 years ago. Those receiving the meals, which are prepared by inmates at the Arlington County Detention Center, can range from the poor to, as one volunteer put it, “one four-star general dressed in a tie.” [Falls Church News-Press]
AFAC Sets 100,000 Meal Goal in April — With continuing record demand, the Arlington Food Assistance Center is hoping to receive 100,000 donated meals this month to distribute to Arlington families in need. AFAC expects to exceed its food budget by $150,000 for the second straight year, and Executive Director Charles Meng has said the nonprofit serves 100 new families a month. [InsideNova]
The Optimist Club of Arlington‘s annual Christmas tree sale started this past weekend, giving Arlington residents the chance to stop by the Wells Fargo parking lot at the corner of Lee Highway and N. Glebe Road to pick out this year’s symbolic evergreen.
This is the 67th year the Optimist Club — which sponsors “academic and sports activities designed to give Arlington’s youth a better chance to succeed in today’s world,” according to its website — has held its annual sale, which is one of its biggest fundraisers.
This year, the lot is open from 2:00 to 9:00 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, from noon to 8:00 p.m. on Fridays and from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Trees range in prices from $30 for a five-foot white pine to $230 for a 12-foot Fraser fir.
All of the trees being sold are “freshly cut” from Jefferson County, N.C., according to the Optimist Club. Garlands and wreaths are also available for purchase.
Just in case you need an excuse to dress up your dog in a costume while walking around Clarendon, there’s an event for that. Plus, it benefits two Arlington nonprofit organizations.
The Howl-O-Ween Walk runs from 9:00-11:30 a.m. on Saturday, October 25. Doorways for Women and Families teamed up with Homeward Trails Animal Rescue for the fundraiser, which also serves to raise awareness about domestic violence against women, children and pets.
The trick-or-treat event begins at James Hunter Park in Clarendon with coffee, bagels and a kickoff ceremony. Walkers and their pets will follow a one mile route, picking up treats at selected businesses along the way. Festivities continue back at the park with snacks, doggy goodie bags, a demonstration by the Arlington County Police K-9 Unit and a doggy costume contest.
Online registration is $30 for adults and $20 for children under 16. This year, people also can create an online fundraising page in their pet’s honor. The top fundraisers can win prizes including hotel stays and gift cards.
Sue Bell, executive director of Homeward Trails, said domestic violence victims and their pets will have something new to celebrate at this year’s event: the enactment of a pet protective order law in Virginia.
“This bill allows companion animals (dogs and cats) to be added to protective orders in the case of domestic violence… something that in the past has resulted in victims staying in a dangerous situation longer in order to protect their pets from harm,” Bell said via email. “We will be having Del. Patrick Hope and [state] Sen. Barbara Favola speak on this at the kick-off of the walk. It’s a huge victory for both human and canine/feline victims of domestic abuse!”
(Updated at 6:00 p.m) A walk-in studio art facility for veterans and active-duty service members plans to open Oct. 15 in Crystal City.
Alexandria-based The 296 Project launched a Kickstarter on July 24 with a $30,000 goal to fund the 1,100-square-foot space, which it calls “A Combat Veteran’s Healing Place.” The studio will be located in a retail space at the Shops at 2100 Crystal Drive.
Kickstarter proceeds will go toward renovation materials, art supplies and equipment for the facility, which will cater to service members with post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury (TBI), according to a press release.
“When the suffering is so strong words can barely describe it, when no one understands, when there’s no support system, this new facility allows our men and women in uniform to tell their stories with a paintbrush, clay, pen and pencil, chalk, through music, digital design, 3D design, spoken word or through poetry,” Scott Gordon, executive director of The 296 Project, told ARLnow.com in an email.
The project plans to give service members a place to explore art as well as socialize. It plans to provide art therapists with a space for seminars, art classes and group therapy sessions, although it will not be a therapy-providing entity, according to The 296 Project spokesperson Rebekah Wiseman.
The general public will be allowed in, according to the organization, so it can learn more about the community of service members with PTSD and TBI who are helped by art and expressive therapies.
“With or without a PTS/TBI diagnosis, our facility, our seminars, workshops, etc., will be therapeutic,” Wiseman wrote.
Service members will have to provide records to prove that they are or were members of the military, said Wiseman. The facility plans to be open six days of the week, from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
“We believe we can save thousands of lives in the Northern Virginia area alone,” Gordon said. “This is just too important not to support.”
The Kickstarter will accept contributions until Sept. 22. Currently, the project has six backers and has raised $710.
Images courtesy The 296 Project