Arlington, VA

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

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Morning Notes

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

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Morning Notes

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

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Morning Notes

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

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“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.

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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

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TreeStewards, an organization that works to advocate and care for trees, is looking for new volunteers to train in Arlington.

Volunteer efforts include activities, such as planting and pruning, along with education and advocacy initiatives, like holding neighborhood “Tree Walks” and informational booths at farmers’ markets and festivals.

Training will kick off on Oct. 2 and is split into four modules. Each module includes between two and four mandatory classes and one field session.

The first module covers topics such as fall tree identification and correct tree planting methods. The fourth and final module begins April 16, and will cover topics like pests, diseases and care of mature trees.

Those interested should apply online by Aug. 22.

Photo via Facebook

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Morning Notes

County Raises $40,000 for Citizenship Fund, Urges Donors to Give Elsewhere — Arlington officials say they have more than enough money in a newly created fund to help immigrants afford fees associated with the naturalization process. Only four people have applied for the money so far, and the county is recommending residents save their money for other nonprofits instead. [Washington Post]

Flooding Hits Arlington… Again — Last night’s intense storms prompted yet more flooding, including some scary conditions on Lee Highway. Some indoor flooding was even on tap for SER Restaurant in Ballston. [Twitter, Twitter]

A Soft Opening for New Japanese Barbecue Restaurant in Clarendon — Gyu-Kaku, on N. Hudson Street just across from Don Tito, is now accepting customers by reservation only. The first D.C.-area location for the chain previously ran into some permit problems, but is now back on track. [Washington City Paper]

Dockless Scooters Vex Local Policymakers — Just as Arlington officials were caught a bit off guard by the arrival of Bird’s electric scooters last month, other localities are mulling the best way to craft policies for the vehicles. Alexandria has started to see some scooters from both the county and D.C. pop up in its borders, but leaders are taking a “wait and see” approach. [Washington Business Journal]

Police Target Solo Drivers on I-66 Inside the Beltway — Virginia officials want to crack down on anyone violating the HOV policies on I-66 in the morning and evening rush hours, in a bid to make sure the new tolls are working as intended. [WTOP]

County Volunteers Get a Round of Applause — Volunteer Arlington held its second annual “Arlington Cares” event in Ballston to laud people giving back around the county. [InsideNova]

Photo via @thelastfc

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Local professionals have the opportunity to contribute to the Arlington community through new a mentorship program managed by Arlington’s Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court Services Unit.

RISE — an acronym for respect, integrity, self-esteem and empowerment — pairs at-risk kids with an adult in their community. Mentors help their mentees develop social, emotional and practical skills, program coordinator Erika Yalowitz wrote in an email to ARLnow.

“The objective is to provide young Arlingtonians a path to achieve their dreams,” Yalowitz wrote.

Yalowitz says participants in the program are usually Arlington high school students with histories of delinquency or status offenses, like breaking curfew or skipping school, or those who have been otherwise identified as at-risk. Participation is voluntary for mentees.

The group of mentors and teens typically meets in the evening on the first Wednesday of every month to participate in activities like hiking, bowling or mini-golf. Those interested in mentoring must commit to the program for a minimum of one year, submit to background and criminal record checks and attend on-site training.

Local businesses can also support the program by donating to help cover the cost of meals and activities. Anyone interested can contact [email protected] or [email protected]

Photo courtesy Erika Yalowitz

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WMATA is gearing up to test how first responders would handle a major Metro emergency in Arlington, and officials are looking for some help.

Metro is planning a “full-scale exercise” at the Crystal City Metro station (1750 S. Bell Street) on Sunday, June 3, and is looking for volunteers to make the event feel more real for participants. Check in for the event begins at 6:30 a.m., and it’s set to wrap up by 1 p.m, according to an event listing.

Volunteers will get the chance to “act out the role of a Metro rider who is on the train at the time of the emergency and will be able to see first-hand how regional emergency responders handle the situation.”

Metro is offering up free parking and light refreshments for anyone looking to participate; WMATA is also willing to provide documentation or certification for anyone who needs it after participating, “including Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and other service organizations.”

More details on the event from the listing, after the jump.

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Morning Notes

Roosevelt Island, Gravelly Point to Get Bikeshare — The County Board approved a deal with the National Park Service to allow Capital Bikeshare stations on Theodore Roosevelt Island and at Gravelly Point. Although the stations are on NPS land, the county will install and maintain them. [Arlington County]

Arlington, Falls Church Men Arrested in Drug Bust — Williamsburg police arrested 10 people at the College of William & Mary — including one student from Arlington, two from Falls Church and a professor — during a large drug bust during which they confiscated LSD, cocaine, mushrooms, opioids, amphetamines, steroids, hashish, marijuana and $14,000 in cash. Police launched a months-long investigation when they heard that increased drug use was causing unreported sexual assaults. [Richmond Times-Dispatch]

Tree Canopy Dispute Grows — Environmental activists have intensified their cries about the county providing misleading information on the size of Arlington’s tree canopy. Activists confronted County Board members at their Saturday meeting, armed with claims of “alternative facts” and a “war on science.”  [Inside NoVa]

Outstanding Park Volunteers Honored — The County Board gave awards to Joanne Hutton, John Foti and Friends of Aurora Highlands Park for their efforts to support county parks and natural resources. The honorees have led service projects, helped to expand field use and promoted public open spaces. [Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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