Reston, VA

American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association will be under new leadership after the retirement of its current president and treasurer, according to a press release.

The non-profit organization, which is based in Reston, provides military life insurance,  help with wealth management, survivor assistance and mortgage services, according to its website. Walt Lincoln, who served with the company for 28 years will be succeeded by Michael Meese, the press release said.

Both Meese and Lincoln served in the United States armed forces for significant stints themselves, according to the press release, which added that during Lincon’s management, the company expanded membership growth 36%.

“Working for, and alongside, so many great people for so long, doing work that we know makes such a positive difference in the lives of the families who have sacrificed so much for our country and its freedom — it will be difficult to step away from all of that,” Lincoln said in the release.

It is unclear exactly when leadership responsibilities will transition over to Meese, but he comes into the position after serving as the chief operating officer for the company since 2013, according to the press release.

Photo via Jon Sailer/Unsplash

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To help startups and small business owners, the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce decided to host free online “business success” webinars.

These online events will teach people how to manage various challenges, covering issues like prolonged teleworking and financial strife, according to a press release.

Each event will be held through Zoom, a free digital teleworking software.

“These are free webinars designed to provide education around issues that are on the minds of people and businesses right now as a result of the coronavirus pandemic,” the press release said. “They have also adapted their popular Business Education Series (BES) to a webinar format.”

Though the seminars kicked off on March 27, there are several more scheduled in the next couple of days.

On Wednesday (April 1) people will be able to attend the digital seminar “Practical Tips for Prolonged Teleworking“from 1 until 2 p.m.

A seminar on “Financial Advice for Yourself, Your Business, and Details on SBA Loans” will be hosted on April 3 from 1 until 2 p.m.

To finish off the series, “How to Maintain Wellness (Physical, Mental and Nutritional) When it Matters Most” will be held from 1 until 2 p.m. on April 7.

People can visit the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce‘s website for more information on upcoming digital events.

Photo courtesy Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce 

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Virginia announced an upcoming Takeout Week to support local restaurants trying to stay afloat despite the loss of business from the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the motto “Virginia is for Restaurant Lovers,” event organizers want people to order takeout at local businesses beginning today (March 30) until April 5, according to the event page on Fairfax County’s website.

People may be able to order directly from the eatery or use apps such as GrubHub and Uber Eats for curbside drop off.

Reston Now previously did a roundup of local eateries still open for delivery, which includes roughly two dozen various choices.

Already, some restaurants have chosen to shut down and let go of staffers. Temporary closures include Bombay VelvetNot Your Average Joe’s and Big Bowl.

People who participate are encouraged to use the hashtag #VirginiaEatsLocal to show solidarity and encourage their friends and family to order out, the website said.

Image via Fairfax County

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With all the recent events and looming pandemic, there has been a push on social media and within social groups to support locally run businesses owned by locals and community members — allowing them to maintain their livelihoods.

Reston Now rounded up shops within Reston and Herndon that offer some additions to either your home or a gift basket for someone else.

Though Ralph Northam issues a statement on March 24, that only essential businesses are allowed to stay open, it was noted in an official press release that brick and mortar small-businesses are allowed to stay open if they can maintain mandated social distancing orders and cleanliness standards.

“If any such business cannot adhere to the 10-patron limit with proper social distancing requirements, it must close,” the statement said.

Herndon

Right! On Records (731 Elden Street) supplies visitors with an array of new and used records. Prices start at $1 and go up from there. Staff at the store are more than happy to help suggest artists, according to the site. Shipping anywhere in the US is $4 or people can pick up items for free. The store takes credit cards through the phone but can also send customers a PayPal invoice, the site said. They can be reached at (703) 657-4440.

Those seeking custom apparel can check out Fairfax Screen Printing online. Though hours have been reduced from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. staff members are still available by phone at 703 435 3174 and are offering curbside drop off, the website said. The store can print t-shirts, hats, outerwear, kids’ cloths and accessories, the site said.

Shoppers at Senpai’s Corner Anime & Gift Shop (795 Center Street, Suite 4) can find unique and cute items including stuffed animals and wearable gear, the website said. Prices range and the location doesn’t deliver but a staff member said the location limits customers in the store to two at a time, for social distancing purposes.

Reston

Local stop Scrawl Books is delivering reads to the front doors of bibliophiles, according to its Facebook page. Shoppers can discover reads from all genres and many local authors. Though people cannot browse in the store, due to COVID-19 concerns, people can read descriptions online and also pick up the books in the store if they choose, the website said.

Boutique Lou Lou is offering free shipping on purchases above $40. The store offers lots of accessories and clothing for women.

Photo via Scrawl Books/Facebook

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Although schools are closed, Aldrin Elementary School Principal Shane Wolfe said he is trying to help his students regain a sense of normalcy by bringing people together through a shared love for storytime and feeling of community.

Wolfe began hosting Facebook Live events on March 18, which he said quickly attracted the attraction of hundreds of kids from Aldrin Elementary and across the country.

During these half-hour sessions, Wolfe typically reads a short storybook that is hand-selected by Wolfe.

At 2 p.m. today, Wolfe announced he will be reading “And Heres to You” by David Elliott. Anyone interested can join the Facebook Live event to listen along.

“I was trying to find a way I could create a connection with the kids back to the school,” Wolfe said, adding that he thinks a sense of community is important to the digital learning environment.

Wolfe says that he does his best to ensure that he can respond to questions from kids that log on.

“The kids have a lot of really good questions that come in too,” he said, adding that they often ask about when the school may reopen and even inquire about their friends.

One of the major questions that Wolfe gets is kids asking when they will be able to return to school and play on the playground. Though Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam canceled all in-person school activities through the end of the semester, Wolfe told Reston Now that Fairfax County is in the midst of creating a distance learning plan for students.

When it comes to recreation, Wolfe said that kids should listen to their parents and respect county guidelines but are still able to enjoy things like soccer fields that allow students to practice the six-feet social distancing rule.

Although the Aldrin Elementary’s Facebook page only has about 250 followers, Wolfe said that sometimes his Facebook Live videos will sometimes end up with upwards of 1,000 views. Once, he even saw that kids from Tennessee and Phoenix, Arizona were following along with the story as well.

In the near future, students and community members can expect an upcoming “virtual teacher parade” that will replace the car parade, which was previously canceled, according to Wolfe.

“We are recording it now and teachers will record themselves singing, being silly and saying hello to the kids,” he said.

The final product will be sent out electronically to the community once complete, Wolfe said.

Photo via Aldrin Elementary/Facebook

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As Fairfax County officials adjust to digital meetings and remote work, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn said he’s unsure how the COVID-19 pandemic might affect upcoming budget discussions.

Changes to the protocol called to attention a shifting reality for public officials, Alcorn told reporters during an online meeting on Wednesday (March 25).

“I think we are starting over for the FY2021 budget based on all the changes that have happened in the last few weeks,” he said.

Still, the county’s Budget Committee is going to be meeting virtually next Tuesday (March 31), according to Alcorn. The county executive is expected to present the proposed budget with updated numbers and assumptions based on COVID-19 responses, he said.

“That’s going to be a particularly important budget meeting,” he said. “I’m particularly interested to see what assumptions are going to go into revenues for next year.”

As of right now, the county executive suggested that roughly $11 million be set aside as an emergency fund for COVID-19 response, Alcorn said.

Though the dates and times are still up in the air, Alcorn said that the county will schedule a virtual town hall after next Tuesday.

As originally expected, he also said constituents can expect public hearings to be held in mid-April.

“If we are still in the situation we are in here, we’ll have to be a little bit more creative in terms of how we hear testimony and how the public can participate in that process,” he said, adding that the county staff is brainstorming solutions to this dilemma.

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Along with a myriad of other events, the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival in Reston has been rescheduled for later this year.

Event organizers made the call yesterday (March 24) to postpone the festival, which brings together a variety of handcrafted art pieces, until September due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a press release.

Now, the festival is set to take place from September 11-13, according to the Greater Reston Arts Center (GRACE).

“Our first priority is the health and well-being of our artists, volunteers, sponsors, and patrons,” GRACE’s Associate Curator and Festival Director, Erica Harrison said in the press release.

This annual event draws more than 30,000 guests from around the D.C. area, according to a press release.

As originally planned, the festival will still take place at the Reston Town Center.

Photo via Northern Virginia Arts Festival/Facebook

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A Reston based global company is using data to try and track COVID-19 discussion around the world.

Comscore, headquartered at 11950 Democracy Drive, helps clients “evaluate media across platforms” to boost audience engagement, according to its website. Major clients for the company include Pepsi and Oracle.

The company recently expanded its efforts to provide “insights” into COVID-19.

Those insights range in data from things like media consumption during the outbreak to surging levels of in-home data usage.

Now that people are staying home, the company announced that as of today (Tuesday, March 24,) data use by gaming consoles is up 48% along with a 44% data use rise by in-home speakers.

When it comes to media consumption, roughly 3.2 million people checked governmental websites including the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control. Between March 9115, roughly 24.4 million people logged on to these websites. That’s over a 670% increase from the first few days of January, according to Comscore.

Due to recent changes in commerce, Comscore also noticed changes in other industries like retail and manufacturing.

“In looking at total digital visits to an aggregate of Amazon, Walmart and Target’s sites, we saw 779 million visits the week of March 9-15,” the company’s website said.

According to a blog recently released by Comscore, studies show that people are turning to local news when they face uncertainty during the pandemic.

“We need local news in times of crisis to learn about the changes impacting our daily lives,” Rachel Cooper-Blank, the author and company’s lead account manager, wrote in the blog.

Going forward, it seems that Comscore will continue to track changes to the economy and people’s habits during the pandemic.

Reston Now reached out to Comscore for comment and is awaiting a response.

Photo via Comscore/Facebook

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UPDATED at 2 p.m. — Tysons Reporter received new information from area hospitals about current needs and shortages. At this time, area hospitals are NOT in need of homemade medical masks, according to the spokesperson from Reston Hospital Center

A Reston father and his two sons teamed up to make a group to help people who could be severely impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.

After feeling bored in self-isolation, Colin, Hayden and their dad, Ray Whitney, researched how they could best assist their community and discovered a group called Caremongers out of Canada. After some guidance from its volunteers, the trio founded one of their own chapters for the Reston community.

Caremongers Reston VA is a group that writes letters and shares ideas with others on how to help and delivers groceries or medicine to people around the area who are elderly or immuno-compromised, according to Ray.

Ray said he founded the Facebook page for the group around March 18, and already, the group has helped roughly 40 people — and continues to grow its outreach efforts through a partnership with the United Christian Parish Reston, where the family attends services.

“Right now it’s really just me and my sons trying to push things through and get things set up,” Ray said.

The group said they were able to write a letter to a 100-year-old WWII veteran who celebrated his birthday on Sunday (March 22) without a group of friends due to health concerns.

Currently, Ray said Caremongers Reston isn’t accepting donations.

“This is a unique opportunity for everybody to help,” according to Ray, who added that everyone is in a position to do something, even if it’s digitally reaching out to someone who might feel lonely in self-isolation or quarantine.

For people posting on social media, the group is using the hashtag #SpreadLoveNotCOVID19 to promote thoughtfulness during this time. 

To protect themselves, the family is ensuring that they wear gloves during curbside deliveries, leaving the house only when they have to and making sure to practice social distancing — i.e. keeping 6 feet away from people — when they are out, Ray said.

Ray added that they are trying to be cautious but not fearful.

For kids, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that not every child will react the same way to stress from the pandemic and suggests that parents share facts with their kids and reassure them that they will be safe.

Colin is a 4th-grade student at Lake Anne Elementary and Ray said he is simply excited to be helping his community and that he seems to be handling everything okay. Hayden is currently a 9th-grade student at South Lakes High School.

“We are really proud of the fact he wants to step up and help people,” Ray said.

Photo courtesy Ray Whitney 

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As people self-isolate and social distance, there are activities happening digitally to help fight the boredom and redundancy.

Fairfax County Libraries announced closures through March 29, but people who normally visit local libraries can check out free online resources including audiobooks and e-books.

Anyone with a library card can log into a system called Overdrive, which allows people to choose from a wide range of works from all genres.

Though some titles have limited availability and a waitlist, the system offers a list of popular titles available now.

The Brews and Books event at Lake Anne Brew House will take place online this week from 7 -8:30 p.m. on Saturday (March 21), according to the Facebook page. This week people will be talking about “Boys & Sex: Young Men on Hookups, Love, Porn, Consent, and Navigating the New Masculinity” the page said.

People can log onto Zoom to attend the event. The meeting “ID”  is 332 501 624 and the “password” is 649440.

Lake Anne Brew House also announced it will be able to deliver pretzels, food and beer to anyone who is interested.

Fans of musical theatre can stream broadway musicals online using Broadway HD, which lets people stream certain productions in the comfort of their own home. The company is offering a free 7-day trial but costs around $9 each month after that.

Photo via Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

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COVID-19 has prompted a lot of closures, but there are still certain recreational activities in the Reston area to help people stay healthy while social distancing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that people take care of their bodies through tactics like deep breathing, stretching and meditation during the recent outbreak.

Reston Now compiled a list of resources from around the area and websites offering fitness opportunities that support social-isolation.

Parks and Outdoor Activities 

The NOVA Parks website said that most parks will remain open for the time being, but with specific changes made to staffing.

Visitors should note that things like the visitor center are closed, but people are free to come and go, according to the website.

While Fairfax County has closed its indoor park facilities and recreation, nature and community centers through March 29, people can still use the county’s outdoor parks and trails.

Lake Fairfax Park in Reston (1400 Lake Fairfax Drive) is open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m., according to google.

Though the Walker Nature Center (11450 Glade Drive) is closed, according to its Facebook page, its trails are still open for public use.

The Town of Herndon also created a map of area parks for visitors.

Apps and Fitness Resources 

Though it isn’t necessarily a new trend, fitness classes are going digital so that people can still exercise at home.

Core Power Yoga closed its studios but offers digital classes so people can take guided classes on-demand from the comfort of their own home, its website said.

FitOn offers a large variety of fitness classes for clients and there is even a free version that people can take advantage of.

Digital Fitness Assessment on major app stores is yet another option for home fitness. It lets people record their goals and helps keep them on track, according to the app description.

Mental Wellbeing

For people feeling isolated, experts also suggest touching base with friends and family using digital tools such as Zoom, Skype and Google Hangouts. All these software allow people to video chat and see each other without coming into close proximity.

For mental health issues, The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Series Administration has a hotline where people can reach out if they are becoming concerned. People can chat with someone for free at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

The CDC also directly suggests avoiding substances like alcohol and drugs while in self-isolation.

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During the COVID-19 outbreak, places of worship around Reston and Herndon are going digital for people who are self-isolating or quarantined.

Many pastors, priests and religious leaders are taking on leadership roles to help guide their following through stress and uncertainty associated with the outbreak.

Reverend Debra Haffner is associated with the Unitarian Universalist Church in Reston. Her sermons are available for download on the church’s website.

Many religious centers are closed to the public, but a few are still holding events for regular attendees. Here’s what Reston Now has found in the area.

Reston

The Reston Presbyterian Chuch is offering live-streamed services for the congression now that in-person ceremonies have been canceled until further notice. Worshipers can tune into the service at 11 a.m. beginning Sunday (March 22), according to the church’s website. The event will be hosted through Facebook Live.

Oakbrook Church, a non-denominational gathering, is taking several steps to support followers during this time, according to the group’s Facebook page. Today (March 19) at 7 p.m., the congregation will host a Zoom session for people seeking digital companies.

St. John Neumann Catholic Community canceled gatherings of 10 or more people but is keeping its doors open for people who want to pray at least 10 feet apart from one another, according to the church’s website. Congregation leaders are also encouraging followers to watch digital Mass online on Sundays at 10:30 a.m.

“The priests at SJN will continue to offer private Masses and remember the intentions of parishioners,” according to the website.

At the Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation, people can attend live-streamed services beginning at 7 p.m. on Friday.

“We have modified our sanctuary setup, service plan, and camera placement to make our online congregation feel more intimate,” the website said. “Instead of using Mishkan T’filah, which we know many people do not own personal copies of, we have put together our own little siddur to guide us through tonight’s service.”

Tzu Chi of Greater Washington, which is a Buddhist charity foundation, also canceled all its in-person events, the website said, adding that video services will still be available online.

The Reston Islamic Center will remain open for men only, according to its website.

Herndon

Shaolin Temple, a Buddhist place of worship, decided to close its center until further notice, according to the website.

Herndon United Methodist Church is hosting a short Facebook Live session with its main pastor every Wednesday at 3 p.m.

Southview Community Church is doing Facebook Live events throughout the week, according to the web page. Each day, people can follow along with the church’s Facebook for announcements when church leaders will go live.

Photo by Content Pixie on Unsplash

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An empty spot Reston is looking for a new tenant.

Previously a sushi restaurant, the space at 1800 Michael Faraday Drive underwent work from the owner back in 2014, according to county documents, but no changes appear to have been made since then.

Reston Now was not able to find pending work permits in the Fairfax County system at the moment for the location. Employees from surrounding businesses are unsure what lies in store for the empty spot.

Reston Now wants to hear from readers what type of businesses they’d like to take over the spot.

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Like other gun stores around the country, a local gun store owner says that there’s an uptick in firearm sales.

An owner of Herndon Arms said that shortly after opening this morning, the store was busier than normal.

He added that there isn’t a specific type of firearm or weapon that has been selling more than the rest and that he wasn’t able to give any statistics or data.

Around the country, Time reported that people are fearful of the public panic that comes with rumors of empty grocery stores but public officials are reassuring everyone that there is not a food shortage around the United States.

Several cities in the U.S. announced that — despite concerns — they will not suspend the sales of firearms, according to the Chicago Tribune.

In Virginia, people must be above 18 or 21 years of age to purchase weapons, depending on the type of firearm, and take courses before they can apply for a license.

People seeking more information can check out the Virginia State Police’s website, which has a list of frequently asked questions and contact information.

Photo via Jeremy Alford/Unsplash

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Though Fairfax County and independent groups announced several closures in the area, not everyone seems willing to give up the weekend fun.

Reston Now checked out several events and compiled important updates from around the area.

For people looking for things to do, a staffer at Kalypso’s Sports Tavern said that St. Patrick’s Day festivities scheduled for this weekend are still on, as of today (March 13).

On Saturday (March 14) animal lovers can attend the Lucky Dog Animal Adoption event at Kalypso’s Sports Tavern (1617 Washington Plaza N.) from noon to 2 p.m. and head to the St. Patrick’s Day Celebration at Lake Anne Plaza.

Today, the Reston Community Center announced several cancelations and closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All artist events have been canceled, including the following, which were supposed to take place over the weekend:

  • “The Diary of Anne Frank” shows on Friday (March 13) and Saturday (March 14)
  • the Reston Community Orchestra performance on Sunday (March 15)
  • the Kundalini Yoga and Meditation session on Sunday

Though the Reston Community Center itself is not closed, staff are working to keep surfaces clean and disease-free with improved measures, the website said. Updates can be found on the community center’s website.

The Lucky Leprechaun 5K, which was originally scheduled for Sunday, has been postponed, according to its Facebook page. For more information, registrants can check out the PR Races website.

At the Reston Regional Library, the St. Patrick’s Irish Dance Performance has been canceled, along with the Learn How to Read Braille Workshop, according to a library representative.

Photo via Tim Mossholder/Unsplash

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