Tysons, VA

Local children’s book author, Joe Jamaldinian, is partnering with the Kendra Scott location in the Mosaic District (2920 District Ave) tomorrow (Sept. 19) for a charity event benefiting the Grace DC Homeless Project.

At the event, which runs from 12-2 p.m., Jamaldinian will be signing his Penguin Bob books purchased on-site and conducting meet and greets.

Grace DC Homeless Project is a non-profit that feeds and provides care packages for people experiencing homelessness, according to Jamaldinian.

For all the books sold, Jamaldinian will be donating 100% of the profits to the charity while Kendra Scott will be donating 20% of all sales.

The partnership came about after Jamaldinian said he was contacted by a Kendra Scott representative who loved his book.

Those who want to contribute to the cause but cannot make the in-person event are invited to donate to the cause directly.

Additionally, “20% of Kendra Scott purchases [go] to Grace DC Homeless Project during the event and online through September 20th,” a Facebook post said. “Just enter GIVEBACK8936 at checkout.”

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Editor’s Note — Tysons Reporter is running Q&As with the candidates running for the open Falls Church City Council seat. The stories have been condensed and edited for clarity. 

Joshua Shokoor is one of three candidates — along with Debora Shantz-Hiscott and Simone Victoria Pass-Tucker — running for the open Falls Church City Council seat in the upcoming election on Nov. 3.

Tysons Reporter: Why did you decide to run? 

Shokoor: I decided to run because I believe the greatest policy issue facing our community is a lack of affordable housing and the pending loss of hundreds of affordable units, which will leave people of color, city staff, teachers and employees of small businesses with nowhere else to go in the Falls Church. I have worked in affordable housing for years, both professionally and as a veteran of the city’s housing commission and an author of the “Affordable Living Policy.” I have the public policy and private knowledge to mitigate these losses. But my fear is, without my voice on the City Council, not much attention will be paid to this issue.

TR: What’s your connection to the Falls Church community? 

Shokoor: I am a lifelong resident of the city and of course went through the K-12 school system. I am also a veteran on the housing commission and an author of the Affordable Living Policy. I was fortunate enough to intern with the city’s Department of Housing and Human Services while obtaining my master’s in public policy.

TR: What are your top three agenda items? 

a) Preserve the affordable housing in the City

b)  Increase access to the City through the creation of more affordable housing

c) Create a Racial Equity Commission to develop policies through the lens of making Falls Church more inclusive and welcoming for all families

TR: How do you plan to work cohesively with the other council members? 

Shokoor: I already know many on the City Council and we get along fairly well. Everyone on the council is volunteering many hours of their time a week because they are dedicated to making Falls Church a better place to live. Like any team, some people disagree with each other, but at the end of the day, you have to realize that the City Council shares a united goal and vision for this community, and it is no different than the one I have for Falls Church.

TR: Do you approve of how the city has handled COVID-19 so far? What would you change?

Shokoor: The City has done a lot to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, whether that is through strict social distancing, mask wearing, and initiatives to focus resident’s consumer purchase to businesses in the city which are still not back to pre-pandemic levels in terms of patrons and revenue. But I think Falls Church’s best response has come from the Department of Housing Human Services. Through their efforts they have provided rental assistance to 45 families since the pandemic began, many of which have been helped numerous. They have paid for utility expenses for over 50 families, provided masks to communities most at-risk, and supplied food to residents through donations to their programs. In a wealthy community like Falls Church, it is easy for some to overlook the struggles of many residents and families.

Photo courtesy Joshua Shokoor

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Despite Eli Lev’s global popularity, the musician holds his Northern Virginia hometown roots in high regard.

Born and raised in Falls Church, the hybrid folk-singer quit his day job around roughly three years ago to pursue music after playing his first few shows at Tryst in Adams Morgan, D.C. and other small venues in the Northern Virginia area.

To this day, Lev said that one of his favorite venues is still the Jammin Java in Vienna, because of its support for upcoming artists.

“The origin story is more of a haphazard journey,” Lev said, adding that he picked up instruments “here and there” before he moved back to the region after living in Andora — a small European country. For him, music and shared culture was a way for him to reconnect with friends and family after living abroad.

In the three years since he began playing professional gigs, Lev has toured the United States and Europe and recently released his album Deep South. The album was inspired by Native American culture he learned about while teaching on the Navajo Nation in Northern Arizona and is part of a four-album series about his travels.

The last album in the series “True North” will likely come out later this year, Lev said.

Lev’s music style, though continuing to evolving, was primarily inspired by his adventures around the world. Singer and songwriter-style music was attractive to Lev because it allowed him to travels around with an acoustic guitar and make connections with other travelers.

“It seemed like a natural fit,” he said.

Since first starting, Lev said he also began to experiment with indie-folk, pop and even jazz elements.

People around the D.C. area may recognize Lev from local Sofar Sound Concerts, which he makes regular appearances at. Sofar Sound Concerts are pop-up concerts where attendees are asked to gather at a random location across town to see a surprise lineup of artists. The concept has become increasingly popular over the last few years and has grown internationally.  “I was lucky to come across the whole community as a listener first,” Lev said.

Because of the ongoing pandemic though, Lev hasn’t given up performing and instead has taken to performing at outdoor venues and on live streams.

“They’ve carried me through this crazy time essentially,” he said.

Additionally, Lev has set up a virtual community for followers and fans called “The Levitators,” which allows people to connect with Lev, giving them sneak-peeks to new songs, live streams and access to new merchandise. In return, Lev said that he receives valuable feedback.

“Super cheesy, I know,” Lev said. “But that’s how I roll.”

Anyone who wants to join The Levitators can sign up online. Membership is international, Lev said, adding that he knows of members from Brazil, India, UK, Israel and Mexico.

This weekend (Sept. 19 and 20) Lev will actually be performing at a live stream festival called DREAM STREAM. Tickets and a schedule can be found online.

Photo courtesy Eli Lev

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Friday Morning Notes

Fairfax County to Receive an Additional $4.85 Million in CARES Act Funding— “Through this final allocation, Fairfax County will receive an additional $4.85 Million in federal funding to assist residents facing higher risk of eviction and help combat the economic hardships brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.” [Fairfax County]

3 F.C. Council Candidates Appear at First Joint Campaign Event — “A new breed of candidates for public office has surfaced in the race to temporarily fill a vacancy on the Falls Church City Council.” [Falls Church News-Press]

D.C. Restaurants Turn to Pop-up Concepts to Stay Afloat — “Bethesda’s URBNmarket is bringing a socially distant Oktoberfest event to Tysons on Oct. 9 and 10 with seasonal beverages in the pop-up biergarten.” [Washington Business Journal]

McLean Mom Plans Meal Packing Efforts During Pandemic — “Through her LiftLikeAMother​ Amplify program, McLean’s Alicia McKenzie coordinates meal packing efforts to help those in need.” [Patch]

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As Han Palace, a new dim sum restaurant, makes its debut today in Tysons, the location announced it’ll be hosting a grand opening party this evening.

Those who want to celebrate are invited to do so from 5-9 p.m. at 7900 Westpark Drive tonight (Thursday), a flyer said, adding that complimentary wine and champagne will be available for those over 21.

As a type of traditional Chinese-style brunch, Dim Sum is typically enjoyed by a large group of family and friends.

“Unlike most Dim Sum restaurants, diners will not find any pushcarts at Han Palace,” a press release said. “All Dim Sum will be made to order and the menu will be overseen by Executive Chef Kenny Lei, whom Zhu (the owner) recruited from New York City.”

Specialty dishes at this location will include steamed shrimp dumplings, baked barbecue pork buns and sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves, according to a press release.

“Dim Sum desserts include an intricate Purple Gold Yolk Bun and Almond Ball with Custard Yolk Heart, both filled with an oozy, soft egg custard and for the very adventurous, a Deep Fried Durian Cake,” the press release said.

The location will also offer cocktails, including Japanese whiskey and a variety of liquors.

Both indoor and outdoor seating will be available.

Going forward, the eatery will be open Sunday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m., the Facebook page said.

Photo via Han Palace/Facebook

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Flu season is around the corner and regional officials will gather tomorrow morning to discuss the importance of the annual vaccination.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more important than ever that everyone do their part to help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses like flu,” a press release said.

The meeting, which begins tomorrow (Sept. 17) at 9.m., will include speeches from Fairfax County officials who encourage members of the public to receive their yearly flu vaccinations, according to a press release.

Those who want to watch the event are invited to do so virtually via Facebook Live.

A recent Tysons Reporter poll said that almost 20% of 494 respondents have already gotten their flu shot for the year while another 66% of respondents that they plan to do so soon.

“Getting a flu shot will help prevent unnecessary illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths and will protect frontline health care workers and conserve scarce medical resources needed to care for COVID-19 patients,” a press release said.

Attendees at tomorrow’s event will likely include:

  • City of Falls Church Mayor David Tarter
  • Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeffrey McKay
  • President and CEO of Inova Health System Dr. Stephen Jones
  • Town of Vienna Mayor Linda Colbert

 Photo via Hyttalo Souza on Unsplash

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In lieu of being able to serve the community in-person, members of Falls Church-based Dulin United Methodist Church started a monthly charity project led by their pastor, Dave Kirkland.

Since July, the congregation has chosen a different charity to support each month by raising funds for those in need.

“We pick up a different ministry each month and see how it hits the spirits of people and how they respond,” Kirkland said.

Though the charities range in geographic location and purpose, the July donation to Homestretch benefited people within Falls Church’s own community.

Not only did churchgoers and a variety of other donors raise $100,000 which will support the charity’s mission to help disadvantaged families find housing and sustainable lives, but the group was also able to donate $7,200 worth of gift cards and put together care packages with toiletries for 28 local families, according to Kirkland.

Many of the people which received help thanks to the donations are entry-level frontline workers, Kirkland said, and many are also survivors of human trafficking or abuse.

“We knew a lot of these folks probably lost their job and COVID has really affected their lives, so we made a plea,” Kirkland said.  “They [Homestretch] support their families through skills, knowledge and hope. We couldn’t help with skills or knowledge but we could help with hope.”

In August, Dulin United Methodist also raised $17,000 for a group called Free Minds Book Club, which is a D.C. based organization that encourages incarcerated youth to develop a passion for literature.

This month, congregation members will be supporting a charity in Sierra Leone which works to set up infrastructure in the country which was destroyed by civil war, according to Kirkland.

Anyone interested in supporting the church’s mission can donate online.

Photo via Dulin United Methodist Church/Facebook

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Finally, for the first time since March, McCabe’s Printing Group has seen a jump in sales.

The Merrifield based shop (8451 Hilltop Road), which typically specializes in promotional materials for schools and banquets, suffered a 50% drop in sales during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to operations manager Chris Ricci.

“Mid-March, everything dropped off the face of the earth in terms of work,” Ricci said. “It was kind of a shock, to say the least.”

But after forming a few new partnerships and changing tactics, Ricci said that the shop finally began to bounce back in August.

“I wanna say that businesses slowly and gradually reopening has definitely played a role in boosting morale,” he said, adding that the shop has seen a large increase for printed materials reminding people of safety procedures to prevent the spread of COVID, such as proper handwashing techniques and PSAs to wear a mask.

“We’ve been lucky,” Ricci said. “A lot of print shops had a lot of difficulties during this time, but the biggest goal is keeping at it.”

When the pandemic first hit, Ricci said that the shop received a federal PPP loan.

“That definitely helped us out, especially during the early months,” Ricci said. “We were one of the first ones to apply and get it.”

The shop is also awaiting a loan from Fairfax County, which Ricci is expecting to hit the accounts sometime next week.

Ricci said that he’s been with the company since he was a “wee little lad,” adding that he has family connections to the business.

For community members who want to keep supporting local and small businesses, Ricci said he wanted to remind people that there is a gap between the drive to support local shop owners in practice vs theory.

“The biggest disconnect that folks have is supporting local businesses but not supporting small business prices,” he said, adding that the printing industry has a very small sales margin to begin with.

Ricci encourages people to chat with the staff when visiting a small business, that way they can form a connection with other community members.

“There are not that many people at small businesses, so when you walk in, you could easily be chatting with the owner,” Ricci said.

Image courtesy McCabe’s Printing Group

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Why More and More Families in Tysons are Calling High-Rises Home — “High-rise housing is often portrayed as places for the young and childless. Housing for transient young adults before they move out to the suburbs to start families. But Tysons shows that this stereotype leaves out a large number of families who live in high-rises.” [Greater Greater Washington]

No Car Decals in This Fall’s Tax Bills — “Falls Church Treasurer Jody Acosta reported to the F.C. City Council Tuesday that the personal property tax bills being issued this fall will not, as in the past, include decals to be placed on car windshields.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Creative Cauldron Director Wins Another Helen Hayes Award — “Matt Conner, the prolific composer, writer, director and performer for Falls Church’s own Creative Cauldron theater company won a highly prestigious D.C. Metro [region-wide] Helen Hayes Award for Best Director of a Musical for his work on the Cauldron’s production of “Beauty and the Beast” earlier this year.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Vienna Kids’ Friendship Bracelet Sales Feed Families In Need –“The sisters’ efforts making bracelets over the summer helps an initiative of restaurants feeding families during the pandemic.” [Patch]

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In contrast to Tysons, where the skyline is evolving, McLean is more well-known for its established neighborhoods that include historic mansions and estates.

Given McLean’s proximity to the nation’s capital, there have been several noteworthy community members who decided to take up residency at these prominent homes.

According to various sites, like the Washington Post, many of the D.C. area’s most expensive properties are located in McLean. The average home in McLean is around a million dollars, according to Zillow.

The Merrywood mansion, built-in 1919, is known as Jackie Kennedy’s childhood home and is valued at around $50 million today.

The home was designed by the same architect that was responsible for the White House, according to Curbed. Amenities includes nine bedrooms, 11 full bathrooms, a pool, an elevator, a library and a grand fireplace.

Another nearby property which was owned by the Kennedy family is Hickory Hill. Though it is usually given more historical merit than anything else, according to Architectural Digest, its origins are thought to date back to around 1870.

While he doesn’t own the home, former Vice President and presidential candidate Joe Biden also rents a multi-million dollar mansion in the McLean area.

Per month, the property costs the Biden family around $20,000, Reuters reported, adding that the property was purchased for $4.25 million in 2016.

According to the Fairfax County Times, two of Virginia’s most expensive homes can be found in McLean — one of which is found at 801 Turkey Run Road. The property is valued at a little under $10 million, according to Zillow. It is unclear if the home has any historical or noteworthy ties.

On the upper end of private properties, for a price tag of $75 million, a home hidden behind clever landscaping at 409 Chain Bridge Road, includes 12 bedrooms and 21 bathrooms, according to Homes of the Rich.

The property — called The Falls — was built in 2000 by AOL co-founder Jim Kimsey. features of the property include wine cellars, an outdoor swimming pool, a private tennis court and ample living space. A guest home adjacent to the house was designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

At 1173 Dolley Madison Blvd, sits another home worth over $5 million, according to Zillo. The six-bedroom, 10-bathroom house sits on just over an acre of land but offers sweeping stairways, bright windows and even a personal movie theatre.

During holidays and other times of the year, groups like the McLean Woman’s Club offer tours of some of the estates to raise money for charity but the group only shows off a few of McLean’s larger properties. There is no guarantee that these will be homes of prominent figures, though.

Catherine Douglas Moran contributed to this report. 

Photo via Woman’s Club of McLean/Facebook

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