Over a dozen Arlington firefighters descended on U.S. Air Force veteran Frank Price’s house in Hall’s Hill on Saturday afternoon.
They weren’t there to fight a fire — but to decorate. The firefighters hung lights and ornaments and trimmings with the help of Decorate A Vet, a non-profit that helps area veterans with decorations and light yard maintenance for the holidays.
The group has decorated veteran’s homes for the holidays for 10 years, according to event organizer and board member Moe Jafari.
Across Arlington, numerous families live with au pairs. What many don’t know is how au pairs have built a community of their own in Arlington.
An au pair is an young adult between the ages of 18-26 who moves to America from another country as part of a cultural exchange. They are matched with a host family, and the au pair lives with them and provides up to 45 hours a week of childcare.
“Having an au pair is definitely a kind of a lifestyle choice, and it’s not for everyone,” said Jennifer Bhartiya, who works part-time as the area’s Local Childcare Consultant (LCC) for Cultural Care Au Pair, where she pairs interested families with matching au pairs.
Currently, Bhartiya represents around 15 families with au pairs, and is constantly fielding requests from new families.
“I work with several [women] from Colombia, some from Germany, two from Argentina and one from Thailand,” said Bhartiya. “And we have some guys as well, who we like to call ‘bropairs.'”
The dynamic between an au pair and the host family is more intimate than a nanny or a babysitter, because it relies on a deeper level of trust, Bhartiya said. In addition to living with the family, au pairs are often authorized to pick children up from school, take them to the doctor, and have access to family credit cards.
It can be hard to adjust to America after growing up abroad, Bhartiya says, which is why she makes an effort to organize events that bring au pairs together and give back to the community.
Recently, a group of Arlington au pairs spent the day across the Potomac at DC Central Kitchen, where they prepared meals given to homeless shelters.
“We had such a good experience, and there’s such an interest from au pairs in Arlington for volunteer opportunities,” said Bhartiya.
A group of au pairs plan on volunteering during the upcoming Marine Corps Marathon on Sunday, October 27, and another local LCC is working to organize a book drive for charity.
“Through events such as community picnics, baseball games, and even fire safety meetings at the Cherrydale fire station, we’re hoping to provide these au pairs with cultural experiences,” said Bhartiya.
Storms Expected Today — “Strong to locally severe thunderstorms are in the forecast Tuesday afternoon and evening, and the potential exists for this to be a significant severe weather event.” [Capital Weather Gang]
ACPD: Expect Police at Fair — “As in years past, the [Arlington County Fair] will have dedicated police staffing and resources and fairgoers can expect to see a visible police presence… There are no known threats to Arlington County, however, the public is encouraged to remain aware of your surroundings at all times.” [Arlington County]
Local Volunteer Firefighting Legacy — “Tucked inside the Clarendon fire station on N. 10th St. is a special closed-off room. By long-standing arrangement with the county, it is dedicated to honoring the station’s decades of reliance on volunteer firefighters. Today’s professionally staffed Fire Station 4 deploys ‘no active volunteers, but retains a volunteer presence.'” [Falls Church News-Press]
Hotel Near HQ2 Sells For Big Bucks — “Host Hotels & Resorts sold the Residence Inn Arlington Pentagon City, a 299-room high-rise property at 550 Army Navy Drive, for $99.1M in a deal that closed July 1, according to Arlington County property records.” [Bisnow]
Deer Rescued from Fence — “Last week, Officer Solano and several neighbors were able to safely untangle this juvenile deer from a soccer net in a resident’s backyard. The deer immediately ran away, uninjured, back into the woods nearby.” [Twitter]
Man Brings Loaded Shotgun to Pentagon — “A Kentucky man taken into custody at the Pentagon last week had a shotgun, ammunition and a machete in his pickup truck, according to court documents… While speaking to the officers, [the man] made ‘incoherent statements about being in the area for ‘liberty business.”” [Fox 5]
Amazon and Local Real Estate — “Amazon has yet to break ground in Northern Virginia for its second headquarters, but residents are already turning away persistent speculators, recalculating budgets for down payments on homes and fighting rent increases.” [New York Times]
Low Young Adult Home Ownership — “Arlington ties with Richmond for the lowest home-ownership rate among young adults in the commonwealth, according to a new analysis… only 16 percent of young adults living in Arlington were homeowners – perhaps not surprising given the cost of real estate in the county.” [InsideNova]
HQ2 Helps Va. Rank as Top State for Business — “CNBC has named Virginia America’s ‘Top State for Business’ in 2019. CNBC unveiled Virginia as the top state for business [Wednesday] morning during a live broadcast from Shenandoah River State Park, and Governor Northam was on location to discuss the announcement.” [CNBC, Gov. Ralph Northam, Twitter, Arlington Economic Development, Washington Business Journal]
Amazon Information Meeting — Officials from Amazon and Arlington County discussed the company’s HQ2 plan and its approval process at a public meeting near Shirlington last night. [Twitter]
More on 5G in Arlington — “Arlington is preparing its commercial corridors for the next generation of mobile broadband technology — 5G. The impact? Mobile download speeds for movies, video games, apps and more up to 100 times faster than today.” [Arlington County]
County Seeking Volunteers for Disaster Drill — “The County is seeking volunteers to participate in Capital Fortitude, a full-scale emergency exercise designed to evaluate the National Capital Region’s ability to dispense medication quickly in response to an anthrax attack. From 10 a.m. to noon on Friday, July 19, Arlington will join 24 jurisdictions around the region in hosting a Point of Dispensing (POD) exercise.” [Arlington County]
Flood-Damaged Road Reopening — “Update [on] July 10… Crews expect to have one lane of 18th St N between N Lexington St and N McKinley Road reopen to traffic this evening. Repairs to the other lane set for completion tomorrow. 20th St N at George Mason is [reopened] with minor repairs still pending.” [Twitter]
Jail Holds Family Event for Inmates — “Some Arlington County children got a rare opportunity Tuesday night: a chance to visit with their fathers and mothers — who are in jail — without any barriers between them.” [WJLA]
Local Girl Scouts Help Seniors — “They came in need of help, smartphones in hand… Girl Scout Troop 60013 was on it. This week, the Arlington, Virginia-based scouts hosted ‘TechBridge,’ their first walk-in clinic to help local senior citizens learn how to use their cellphones.” [CNN]
County Fair Seeking Judges — “Organizers of the Arlington County Fair are seeking volunteers both to register and judge entries for the competitive-exhibit competition. Volunteers with expertise will serve as superintendents and judges in a host of categories, with judging taking place Thursday, Aug. 15 at 10 a.m. at Thomas Jefferson Community Center.” [InsideNova]
Campaign Ad Questioned — A TV ad placed by a political action committee on behalf of commonwealth’s attorney candidate Parisa Dehghani-Tafti is being questioned. The ad brings up recent anti-abortion laws in other states says incumbent Theo Stamos “would enforce anti-choice laws” in Virginia. The video cited in the ad shows Stamos saying she “takes an oath to uphold the law” but would not enforce an unconstitutional law. [Blue Virginia]
The Arlington Juvenile Court Services Unit is looking for volunteers to help with a new program helping families affected by domestic violence.
The Safe Havens Supervised Visitation and Exchange Center opened in January and supervises children during visits with parents accused of abuse. It’s also a safe meeting place for parents with shared custody who need to exchange children for visits, but may need to be kept separated from each other.
Safe Havens is seeking volunteers to spend eight hours a month at the center helping with tasks like escorting children between rooms.
The center is hoping volunteers can also help answer phones, assist program coordinators with record keeping, and keep an eye on supervised visits after being trained in the center’s procedures by staff.
The goal of the facility is to “improve safety for the community at large, eliminating the need for families in conflict to meet in public places” per the county’s January announcement of its opening.
The Safe Havens center is located at the county’s Stambaugh Human Services Center (2100 Washington Blvd) in Penrose. During the weekdays, the facility is open Wednesdays and Fridays from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. On weekends, it’s open Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m.
A county spokeswoman said the center is especially in need of volunteers who speak Spanish, and have experience working with children and families in crisis.
Judge George D. Varoutsos, who is Chief Judge of the Arlington County Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court, previously said he was “thrilled” to see the center open.
Arlington’s Project PEACE, a group dedicated to ending sexual and domestic violence at the Department of Human Services, was tasked by Varoutsos to create Safe Havens after the judge said he realized supervised visitation “has been missing from the array of services that we can provide victims of domestic violence in Arlington courts.”
Interested volunteers are asked to contact Safe Havens coordinator Joanne Hamilton at 703-228-4021.
Photo via Arlington County
Wind Chill Advisory in Effect — A Wind Chill Advisory is in effect this morning due to a combination of gusty winds and bitterly cold temperatures. [Weather.gov]
MLK Day of Service — As of Friday, more than 850 people were signed up to volunteer for Arlington County’s MLK Day of Service today.
Rosslyn Building Sold — “Rosslyn’s Oakwood Arlington extended-stay apartments has changed hands for $70 million. Mapletree Investments, a Singapore real estate investment firm, has acquired the 184-unit property at 1550 Clarendon Blvd. from AvalonBay Communities Inc.” [Washington Business Journal]
Local Nonprofit Gets TV Donation — “Patricia Funegra founded La Cocina VA in Arlington as a way to create change through feeding, educating and empowering the community… FOX 5 and Easterns Automotive Group teamed up to help Funegra… with a $1,000 donation and all her students received new cast-ironed pots, recipe books and $50 gift cards.” [Fox 5]
Local Nonprofit Helping Puerto Rico — Wheels to Africa, which was founded by a 10-year-old Arlington boy in 2005 to send used bikes to Africa, is now sending used bikes to Puerto Rico to help residents still recovering from Hurricane Maria. The nonprofit’s founder has since gone to graduate from college and is now working in Arlington. [Washington Post]
County: Get a Flu Shot — “Flu season is officially underway. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that flu activity is ‘elevated’ as flu viruses circulate nationwide. Arlington healthcare officials are urging residents to take precautions and get vaccinated to help prevent the spread of flu.” [Arlington County]
Nearby: Kitten Lounge Coming to Georgetown — “What’s being called the first-in-America kitten-only place to rest, relax and interact with kittens between the ages of three-to-six months will open in early March, at 3109 M(eow) Street NW.” [WTOP]
Reduced Publishing Schedule Today — Due to the Martin Luther King Jr. Day federal holiday, ARLnow will be publishing on a limited schedule today. We’ll return with a full slate of local coverage tomorrow.
Photo courtesy Tom Mockler
Experts Expect Arlington Appreciation — “The quarterly survey, sponsored by Zillow and conducted by Pulsenomics LLC, asked more than 100 real estate economists and investment experts for their predictions about the U.S. housing market… Denver, Washington, Atlanta and Dallas ranked as the four markets most likely to outperform the national average rate of home-value appreciation.” [InsideNova]
Registration Open for MLK Day of Service — “Volunteer Arlington, a program of Leadership Center for Excellence, will host the second annual MLK Day of Service on Monday, January 21 from 8:30 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. Those looking to turn a day off into a ‘Day On’ can register free of charge.” [Volunteer Arlington]
Incoming: 25 New ACPD Officers — “On December 18, 2018, family, friends, and fellow officers gathered to celebrate the graduation of Session 139 from the Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Training Academy (NVCJA), who took their oath to serve and protect the residents of Arlington County.” [Arlington County]
A Brief History of Rosslyn — “The many tall office buildings… make Rosslyn look more like a modern city than Washington does. It got that way by not being included in the District of Columbia — the result of political decisions that propelled the two neighboring cities in vastly different directions over the centuries. After all, Rosslyn wasn’t always this glossy — far from it.” [Politico]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
ACPD Helps With Bush Funeral — Arlington County Police Department motor officers “had the honor of assisting with escorts” for the George H.W. Bush funeral yesterday. [Twitter]
Arlington County Named LGBTQ ‘All-Star’ — “For the third year in a row, Arlington has received national recognition for its protections of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community members. The County scored 92 out of 100 on the Municipal Equality Index (MEI)… because it scored at least an 85 despite being in a state without supportive state-level LGBTQ protections, the County also earned ‘all-star’ recognition.” [Arlington County]
Bikeshare Station Coming to Gravelly Point — A Capital Bikeshare station was being installed along the Mt. Vernon Trail at Gravelly Point Park yesterday. [Twitter]
County, Volunteers Planting Trees — “This fall alone, the Tree Stewards has planted about 300 trees. The group planned on planting 900, but the ice and snow in early November steered it a little off track. Arlington County contractors picked up the rest of the job.” [WDVM]
Flickr pool by Tom Mockler
“The Clothesline for Arlington Kids” has already given away 3,500 pieces of clothing to 140 school-aged children of low-income families since it opened in August.
The nonprofit’s co-founders, Ellen Moy and Ben Sessions, said they decided to start the nonprofit after Moy got frustrated about the lack of options to recycle the clothes outgrown or barely worn by her two boys, who attend Arlington Public Schools, within the community.
At the Clothesline (2704 N. Pershing Drive), parents and children can find high-quality clothing including brands like Ralph Lauren and Northface.
The clothes hang on the racks, sorted by item type, gender and age range. Moy and Sessions said they invested in racks and hangers to mimic a retail store and to save people from picking through bags of unsorted clothing — what Moy calls ” a big bin of ‘good luck.'”
Students living and attending school in Arlington from kindergarten to 12th grade are eligible if they either receive benefits from the free or reduced lunch program or have a referral from a school social worker, place of worship, the county’s Department of Human Services or a local social services organization. One out of three students in Arlington schools qualifies for the lunch program.
The Clothesline lets children acquire a new wardrobe twice a year. The switch to colder weather clothing happened in mid-October, so families picking out wardrobes now can come back in March, April and May for spring and summer attire.
The full package includes:
- five tops, shirts or blouses
- four pants, shorts or skirts
- five pairs of new underwear
- five pairs of new socks
Additionally, students can pick out one coat or jacket, a pair of shoes, formal wear and a dress, along with accessories as available. If they need more shirts than pants, they can swap within the allotted number.
“They have really fun clothes they get to choose from,” Moy said. “It’s really a thrill when a little girl comes in and she says, ‘Mom, can I have this dress?’ and the mom can say, ‘Yes, you can have that dress.’ Money is not a hindrance.”
Parents can call ahead if they need to pick out formal clothes or are looking for specific items in certain sizes.
“Parents don’t have the time to shop and go all over town, so this is a nice one-stop shopping for their kids,” Moy said, adding that she and the volunteers keep tabs on who needs what and will let families know when requested clothing becomes available.
All of the shopping happens by appointment only, which gives Sessions and Moy a chance to prepare inventory based off of children’s ages and sizes. The store is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Volunteers help inspect the clothing multiple times, Moy said. No ripped, stained, torn or overly worn clothes are allowed. Clothing that doesn’t make the cut gets donated to places like H&M and Goodwill.
Once approved, the clothes get washed and steamed before they go on the rack. “We don’t want them wearing something that looks weird or has a huge stain on it,” Sessions said. “We want to get them into clothes that look exactly like their peers and help them focus on their classwork.”
Sessions, who has a background in finance, takes care of the business side. Moy used her 15 years of clothing retail experience to create simple and inexpensive store decor, which features green painted walls based on the color scheme of their logo, which she said a friend designed.
“People like to shop here,” Sessions said. “The idea is not only to provide a place for kids to get clothing but also to provide a place that really values the families that are coming in by providing a really nice place for them to shop.”
The Clothesline accepts items year-round and stores off-season clothing in boxes for the next switch. People can drop off new and gently used clothing in the donation bins in the front of the store on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Moy and Sessions said the support from the Arlington community has been a “heartwarming experience” — from Girl Scout Troops and churches helping them collect clothes to the bevy of volunteers who have helped staff the program.
So far, they have relied on more than 200 volunteers since they started collecting clothing last year, with usually one to eight volunteers helping out on any given day, they said.
“Arlington is a very generous community, so we’ve been very fortunate,” Moy said.
There are 17,000 Arlingtonians living without access to affordable, nutritious food, but the planners behind the “Master Food Volunteer” program are hoping you can help change that.
The Master Food Volunteer (MFV) program is run through the Virginia Cooperative Extension. The program offers 30 hours in training on nutrition, meal planning, cooking techniques, food safety and working with a diverse audience. In turn, the volunteers are expected to perform 30 hours of community service using their training to help underserved populations become more familiar with affordable healthy eating practices.
The training takes place on four Fridays throughout October. There is a $120 fee for the program that covers the cost of lunches, training materials, an apron, tote bag, and supplies. Applications are available at the Master Food Volunteer website. Applications are due by Aug. 27.
“We do a lot of work with organizations like the Arlington Food Assistance Center to provide food demonstrations at their food distribution site using ingredients many people are not familiar with,” said Jennifer Abel, senior extension agent for Arlington and Alexandria. “That way people can take the recipes and learn how to use vegetables they might not be familiar with, like summer squash and eggplant.”
Many MFV activities are aimed at helping Arlington’s senior citizens who may have limited access to grocery stores. The MFV program is also active in Arlington’s farmers’ markets, like the Aug. 25 market at Courthouse and the Sept. 8 farmers’ market at Arlington Mill.
“In general, vegetable consumption among Americans is lower than it should be, while sugar consumption is much higher,” said Abel. “We’re doing pretty well on fruits, because they’re nice and sweet, but it’s tougher a lot of times to get people to eat a zucchini.”
Photo via Virginia Cooperative Extension