Tysons, VA

While many organizations facing budget constraints have eliminated staff during the coronavirus pandemic, a local program had a diametric response — increasing their staff to care for residents who are displaced from work.

Tysons-based Langley Residential Support Services is a program that serves adults with developmental disabilities as well as their families and communities through residential and community support services. The program has six homes that offer both intensive and supportive assistance.

Many nonprofits and organizations eliminated staff since the pandemic hit to save money. However, since Langely Residential residents aren’t at work during the day, the site needed more staff to care for the extra number of residents. 

“It’s really tapped out our budget,” said Betsy Schatz, the executive director of Langley Residential. “We have somewhat of a reserve. We’ve been very frugal in our approach to spending during this time since we don’t know how long this is going to affect us.”

An increase in staff isn’t the only change Langley Residential has seen. They have also had to adapt to government guidelines to ensure safety during the pandemic. Masks and hand sanitizer have been provided to whoever requests them, from residents to staff. 

“The safer they are, the safer we are,” said Schatz. 

The facility has limited family visits, allowing families to come to the house and take their loved one outside, but they must wear masks and keep 6 feet away from each other. They are also taking residents’ temperatures frequently. Residents were also given iPads to FaceTime with their families. 

“It’s nice to see that people can finally visit with parents and maintain that closer relationship that is so important to them,” said Schatz. 

When the pandemic first hit, Schatz recounted a struggle to maintain adequate supplies on hand. One of the biggest worries was whether they would have enough medical supplies to keep the environment safe for residents. However, now they’re fully stocked up and working with a medical supply company in Springfield.

To keep residents active, Langley Residential has purchased a variety of games including outdoor putting, Connect Four and different arts and crafts. The facility was initially planning a bowling tournament for the residents, but due to the pandemic, it was canceled.

However, they are planning on holding a formal event in the fall that includes wine tasting and a silent auction. Whether the event comes to fruition depends on what phase of reopening Virginia is in, said Schatz. 

Schatz emphasized that the residents have been doing extremely well with the changes in lifestyle. While the pandemic hit them “out of the blue,” staff and residents have adapted and seem to be upholding the values of the facility and maintaining a feeling of home. 

“Our approach is to serve people as long as we can meet their needs. We want people to age in place, we want to make sure that people know that this is their home, not just a facility that they live in,” said Schatz.

Photo by Ava Green

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Traveling Partners Ensemble is hosting an online festival of classic plays next week.

Located in Tysons Corner Center, the theater troupe works with kids and teens in the D.C. area. The festival will be streamed via Youtube with performances running from 3 p.m. until closing words at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, July 17.

“Ariadne’s Thread,” the first performance, will begin at 3:15 p.m. and is approximately 25 minutes long, according to a press release from the company. The piece recreates the Greek myth Theseus and Minotaur and involves all things gods, goddesses, epics and more. The company commissioned the play from Judy White, their playwright-in-residence, in 2013. 

“The Imaginary Invalid” will begin at 4 p.m. and is approximately 40 minutes long. This piece picks on hypocrisy within the medical profession and was written by French playwright Moliere. 

Finally, “The Tempest” will begin at 5 p.m. and is approximately an hour long. The company will bring to light Shakespeare’s tale about wild human nature while stranded on an island, and how characters how are very different come together to eventually achieve peace.

Tickets can be purchased for $10 each. 

In addition to the festival, the theater group is hosting two summer programs — one for fourth- to eighth-grade students and another for pre-college students — online.

People interested in joining the summer programming can participate in the next set of auditions via Zoom on July 11, according to the press release. 

Photo via Traveling Players Ensemble/Facebook

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Last night’s town hall with Fairfax County’s police chief covered a variety of issues related to police reform, from progress on the demands made by Fairfax County NAACP to body-worn cameras.  

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn hosted the meeting last night to give locals a chance to provide input and ask questions. The conflict-free town hall mainly focused on Police Chief Edwin Roessler Jr. answering questions from audience members and explaining FCPD’s policies in detail. 

Roessler highlighted the reforms made by FCPD since the shooting of John Geer, an unarmed Springfield man, in 2013. They have shifted towards a “co-production” method of policing, which emphasizes the importance of community engagement by bringing in advocates to review issues and discuss police report narratives. 

A big goal of the police department is to increase diversion of tasks, including sending mental health or substance abuse cases away from the police. Lee District Supervisor Rodney Lusk, who is the chair of the county’s Public Safety Committee, also emphasized that the current range of issues diverted to the police is “too much to ask of them” and is in support of the Diversion First model. 

The chief addressed terminology that the public wanted to be defined, including the FCPD’s definition of the use of force as “anything beyond a guide or escort, or above putting handcuffs on.” Roessler said that anything beyond that is subject to investigation. Additionally, he clarified that chokeholds are prohibited in Fairfax County. 

Roessler also touched on the development of body-worn cameras. He said that the idea has been in the works since June 2015, and he wants to adopt the co-production model of community engagement in this development.

He says they are making “great progress” on this project and that the policies regarding the cameras are addressed online in an American University pilot program testing the same model of body camera policies. They plan to evaluate the body cameras again in-person in September to ensure the policies are exceeding community expectations.

Roessler discussed the evaluation and promotion process of officers, saying that evaluation begins upon application. He described a thorough path of training that officers go through before assignments. Additionally, they value community engagement when evaluating candidates for senior staff positions to ensure officers “embody the spirit of what the community needs for the future.” 

“We want our officers to engage with the community members in a positive fashion, not just calls for service,” Roessler said in describing what they look for upon officer evaluation. 

Other issues covered included the presence of the MS-13 gang, to which Roessler said they “will be relentless on gang activity in Fairfax County.”

When asked how the police department addresses domestic and sexual violence, Roessler said they use the Lethality Assessment Program — Maryland Model to assess the situation and connect victims with immediate help, such as counselors, attorneys or volunteers from the community.

Photo via Youtube Live

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Despite hopes that reopening Virginia, which is now in Phase Three, would help the economy, barbershops in McLean are experiencing the opposite. 

Barbershops in McLean Tysons Reporter spoke to have reported very few customers, which owners blame on the fear of catching the virus from their barbers and a lack of social distancing, despite increased sanitation and safety measures.

“They are afraid,” said Ali Virek, the owner of McLean Barber Shop. “They are safe when they come in, but they have to actually come in.” 

Virek reported that business is down 60%, and he believes that is because older people are more nervous about coming in. He added that people have called asking for home visits, but they turned the idea down out of concern for the safety of the traveling barbers. 

“I’m scared. I’m nervous about my business. We’re doing our best, but we have to protect ourselves as well,” said Virek.

Kim’s Family Barber and Dominion Barber Shop also reported slow business since their reopenings.

“[Business] has been very, very slow,” said a manager at Dominion Barber Shop. “Before [the pandemic], every day, we had five customers. Now we have two customers.” 

The barbershops have changed their cleaning procedures to ensure safety and sanitization. Barbers are required to wear masks, clean chairs after each customer and encourage customers to wait in their cars or outside before their appointments.

They have also eliminated services that involve extra contact, such as shoulder massages. At McLean Barber Shop, chairs are even spaced 8 feet apart to ensure the extra distance between customers.

“Everyone has to wear a mask,” said Kim Nguyen, the owner of Kim’s Barber Shop. “We clean everything before another customer comes in.”

All of the businesses reported opening on May 29, and have been trying to draw in customers since then.

“We do it exactly like the news tells us. We sanitize, we take care of the chairs after each customer… After each customer, we do laundry,” according to Dominion Barber Shop.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

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Two weeks into Northern Virginia’s reopening under Phase 2, veterinary offices are still seeing a steady stream of the new pets in need of routine care.

“We’ve definitely noticed a lot of people adopting pets,” said Sarah Angermeier, a veterinary assistant and receptionist at the Oakton-Vienna Veterinary Hospital. “It’s a blessing. We have so many puppies right now.”

Angermeier mentioned that appointments are filling up to a week-and-a-half in advance. 

“We book up so fast now,” she said, adding that the dogs are more rambunctious after being stuck at home for weeks. 

The Vienna Animal Hospital has also noticed similar trends. They reported that the number of appointments and the number of people adopting pets have “skyrocketed.” 

In the spring during the strictest point of the coronavirus stay-at-home order, pets were the big winners as people rushed to get stay-at-home companions. Places like Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation in Falls Church have seen a large increase in cat and dog adoptions — compared to April 2019, adoptions went up about 60% in late April of this year, according to Lost Dog.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, one of the leading organizations providing guidance to veterinarian practices, precautionary strategies — like the ones in Northern Virginia — are making visits safer.

“Veterinary practices have made tremendous changes to ensure patients continue to receive essential veterinary care and new safety measures are implemented to protect team members and clients,” said the AVMA in an April 2020 survey of U. S. veterinarians.

The Vienna Animal Hospital, for example, has taken added precautionary measures such as increased sanitation; requiring masks and gloves; and making a switch to curbside appointments to decrease contact. Currently, owners are not allowed in the building.

Similarly, the Oakton-Vienna Veterinary Hospital has been using teleconferencing to hold appointments. Owners drive their pets to the practice and wait in their cars, talking on the phone with doctors while the pets are cared for inside.

However, as of a week ago at Oakton-Vienna, one owner at a time is allowed inside the building with their pet. In addition, the practice has crews deep-cleaning the hospital.

According to the AVMA survey, other adjustments include contactless payment processing, taking patient history by phone or virtually and drive-thru pick up and drop off. About 30% of veterinary practices are using telemedicine and close to 20% of practices were only seeing emergency-related cases at the time of the survey.

The Oakton-Vienna Veterinary Hospital began using teleconferencing on March 2. “It was definitely an adapting period,” said Angermeier. 

Cristal Wheeler, the office manager of the Animal Dental Clinic in Vienna, says that their office is also following a variety of new protocols. 

“We’ve extended our cleanup after every patient to include where clients are sitting and touching,” said Wheeler. She mentioned handles and doors are high contact surfaces that are receiving extra sanitation. 

As practices continue to pivot with the changing coronavirus pandemic, offices like Oakton-Vienna are staying focused on the mission — serving customers and taking care of pets.

“We’ve gotten thank-you notes for staying open during COVID. We’ve had a lot of really really grateful people.”

Photos via Oakton-Vienna Veterinary Hospital/Facebook

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As fitness centers are starting to reopen in the Tysons area as Virginia continues to roll back COVID-19 restrictions. 

Currently, Northern Virginia is in Phase Two and plans to enter Phase Three on Wednesday (July 1).

Here are a few updates on which gyms are reopening, which are staying virtual and which are closing for good. 

Solidcore in Tysons is offering in-person classes as of June 23. They are enforcing a variety of measures to enforce social distancing, such as “alternating machines back-to-front” to maintain 6 feet of distance.

They are asking customers to “minimize gathering in common areas,” to use the bathroom at home and to bring duffles to be stored in the pit of their machine rather than in a common area, according to procedures posted on their website.

Additionally, coaches will not be giving hands-on corrections and will be wearing masks and gloves at all times. 

Crunch in Vienna is offering special reopening hours from 6 a.m. until 9 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. on the weekend.

 24 Hour Fitness has closed permanently in Tysons. However, the Falls Church location plans to reopen soon with new protocols to maintain safety. They have created a way for customers to check-in on their own, make workout reservations and even continue working out at home via digital instruction through a mobile app.

Hot Yoga Tysons is offering “two to three” virtual classes each day throughout the week for people who are craving yoga and pilates sessions from their homes.  

1 To 1 Fitness in Tysons is also continuing to offer virtual personal training. Their sign-up provides users the opportunity to request a trainer who meets their specific preferences in a coach and a workout.

May gyms and fitness centers may start to open up in July as future guidelines have fewer restrictions. Virginia’s Phase Three will allow fitness centers and pools to open up to 75% capacity.

Photo by Danielle Cerullo on Unsplash

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After nearly half of a century, The Treasure Shop in McLean has announced its closing date is Tuesday, June 30.

For patrons interested in browsing one last time, the store is hosting a final sidewalk sale out front on Thursday and Friday (June 25-26) from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

The boutique and consignment shop made the decision to close after 49 years of business because of the COVID-19 setbacks and increasing operational costs, according to a statement from the store. 

The shop will be following recommended protocols to protect patrons during their final sale, including maintaining social distancing, requiring masks and allowing no more than three individuals in the store at a time.

“A lot of people really love the treasure shop. I would say it’s going to be missed,” said Amiee Freeman, the spokesperson for the Navy Marine Coast Guard Residence Foundation, which owns The Treasure Shop. “It’s kind of the end of an era.”

The Treasure Shop has been a major part of McLean and the Vinson Hall Retirement Community for decades. The store said the decision to close “was not made lightly,” and many members of the community are saddened by the closing. 

“I am truly sad to hear this,” one person wrote on the store’s Facebook page. “The Treasure Shop has been such a unique and beloved place to me for many years, both to shop and to consign. I am really sorry to see you go.”

“So sorry to hear this. I love your shop. It always has wonderful items from all over the world,” another person wrote.

The Treasure Shop originally opened in 1971 in Vinson Hall as a way of selling unneeded items to military personnel as well as raising funds to assist residents, according to the Vinson Hall Retirement Community website. From there, the store grew into a widely-known consignment shop where people could find unique and interesting items.

The store moved into the Chesterbrook Shopping Center in 2009 due to the need for more space and parking. 

The shop credits its success to the volunteers, consignors and donors who helped support the establishment over its 49-year run.

Photo courtesy of Amiee Freeman 

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There were spells cast and monsters launched. There were fashion shows and combats. But, the real magic happened when the clock struck midnight on June 18 when teenagers around the world dropped the curtain on a three-day gaming spree to help Broadway actors impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

A group of about 70 teenagers from around the world gathered virtually for a 72-hour Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) marathon game this past weekend. The event raised $1,157 benefitting Broadway Cares, which supports actors.

“You could definitely tell that everyone had fun,” said Elizabeth Tippens, the organizer of Teens4Broadway, following the event. “People who have never met before were having a great time.”

Tippens, a rising junior at Langley High School and theater student, organized the game and Teens4Broadway along with seven other local teenagers. She said the idea came to her while playing D&D with her friends during the stay-at-home order. Her friends love theater and wanted to support the industry, so they decided to create a fundraiser to benefit actors. 

“We’re informed about some Broadway things just from being in theater, and we also play D&D a lot,” says Lily Spiller, one of the dungeon masters.

“With COVID, there’s a lot of things going wrong for a lot of people in theater, because theater is a pretty in-person thing. We wanted to do something to help with that,” said Spiller.

D&D is a fantasy tabletop roleplaying game that allows players to create their own characters. A dungeon master serves as the game’s storyteller while maintaining the setting of the fantastical world. A roll of the dice can often determine the life or death fate of players’ characters, according to the D&D website

From there, Tippens connected with Broadway Cares, a nonprofit that provides assistance and aid to actors. She and her friends came up with a live virtual marathon game of D&D to raise money for the Broadway Cares Actors Fund. 

Teenagers from Virginia to Scotland gathered to play. Anyone interested was invited to watch the game live with the option to donate money. Viewers who donated certain amounts of money could influence the game and the players. For example, with a $25 donation, a healing potion could be delivered to any of the players. 

“There were quite a few $50 donations, which were the party heals,” said Tippens, adding that $50 allowed donors to heal the entire party and give spell casters all their spells back.

However, the real chaos came from the $100 donations, which gave the donor the power to choose any D&D monster of the party’s level to be dropped immediately. 

“The main way it was influenced was because of the big monsters people were dropping on us,” said Tippens. 

The game took place over Roll20, an online roleplaying site geared towards tabletop roleplaying games, such as D&D. Each player was required to make an account on the site to be eligible to participate. The game was then live-streamed via Twitch, a live streaming service often used by gamers. The group had specific technicians to ensure that donations were verified and that the technology ran smoothly throughout the three-day marathon. 

Despite the fun, Tippens said there were many technical challenges. These included a lag on the website due to the high volume of people, a problem with audio where some people couldn’t be heard, and kids not showing up to some of the later slots. Additionally, Roll20 was down for about three hours on one of the days, and a session was canceled because of it. 

This marathon game may only be the beginning of more games in the future held by Teens4Broadway.

Tippens said she has projects in mind for how the game can be improved if it were to happen again, such as using different software for the virtual play. She also mentioned a potential name change and possibly supporting other organizations besides Broadway Cares to reach a broader audience. 

“We definitely have ideas in the works for future events.”

Photo courtesy Elizabeth Tippens

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As Northern Virginia continues to ease COVID-19 restrictions, Tysons-area restauranteurs are not only unveiling new eateries but also re-envisioning dining experiences.

Restaurant owners shared with Tysons Reporter their varying reopening plans.

Solace Brewing Company, a collaboration of D.C. restauranteurs Eric and Ian Hilton and BlackFinn Ameripub co-founder Steve Ryan, was originally poised to open a new location in Falls Church by May 1.

But the opening got delayed due to the pandemic, Jon Humerick, Solace’s co-founder and director of operations, said.

“When everything started, we obviously had to put everything on hold,” said Humerick. 

The brewery, boasting several unique offerings of in-house IPAs, now plans to open within the next two weeks, operating under Phase 2 guidelines requiring seating at half-capacity for indoor and outdoor dining. 

Taqueria Loca, a Mexican restaurant run by the Great American Restaurants group (GAR), debuted a “ghost kitchen” in Vienna in addition to their Sterling location before Northern Virginia began its transition into Phase 2.

This meant that they were available online and cooking in the kitchens for curbside pickup and delivery — however, they were not serving customers in-person, according to Jon Norton, the CEO of GAR.

“We are also creating a ‘patio and beer garden’ in the valet area of Coastal Flats [Tysons Corner] so that guests may begin to enjoy the Taqueria Loca experience in a physical space as well,” according to Norton. 

As of June 12, all GAR restaurants officially reopened at half-capacity.

Shipgarten, a new food and dining concept from the owners of the now-closed Tysons Biergarten, was originally planning to open in June. However, they are now pushing their opening until the end of Phase 3. 

“We are going to use paper products and more disposable items like disposable menus,” Managing Partner Matt Rofougaran said in describing the safety measures they will be taking.

In addition, there will be plexiglass sneezeguards to separate the bartenders from the customers, and the tables in the 30,000-square-foot facility will be separated by 10 feet rather than the 6-foot guideline to ensure extra distance. 

“We’re going to have plenty of room for social distancing,” Rofougaran said.

Photo via Solace Brewing/Facebook

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Local shop owners say they are seeing a run on bicycles thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. 

With both limited public transportation and social activity, people have gravitated towards cycling as a way to get outside. As a result, local bike stores have seen a massive rise in sales. 

“Our service area is seeing an unprecedented level of demand,” said Tim Fricker, the owner of [email protected] in Vienna. But for residents seeking a quick tuneup before hitting the road, they may have to wait a little longer with Fricker reporting a turnaround time of about seven weeks. 

“The longest turnaround time I can recall in the past is a few times where we hit three weeks,” he added. “There has been nothing like this.”

[email protected] sells “conventional bicycles” in addition to specialty bikes such as recumbent bikes and trikes, folding bikes, adaptive bikes, electric bikes and trikes. While they haven’t sold out on conventional bikes, Fricker predicts that most other shops and distributors have. 

Bikenetic in Falls Church, for example, is anticipating first-time and impulse-buyers to flock to the store. Inventory for entry-level riders has yet to be replenished, though.

“All of the companies we deal with have also run out of bikes and are waiting for purchase orders to fill back in from Asia,” said Jan Feuchtner, the owner of Bikenetic.

The store is also experiencing a delayed turnaround. Feuchtner reported also being seven weeks out on repairs with about 300 bikes in the queue, which is double the number of bikes they usually have backlogged. 

To adapt to the demand, [email protected] created heavier structure and discipline to better manage workflow. Fricker said they eliminated “while you wait” services with the exception of mid-ride issues such as a flat tire.

Additionally, they tweaked certain services due to the coronavirus pandemic. No customers are permitted in the store at any time, walk-in test rides are not allowed and payment is handled over the phone.

Fricker anticipates that typical bike stores will see a steep drop in sales once the pandemic begins to die down since the market will be “saturated.” Because of the specialty of his own store, however, he thinks [email protected] won’t be impacted as much and will have more returning customers.

Of the people who started biking because of the pandemic, some will likely continue riding when things return to normal, keeping business afloat. 

“I just don’t know what percentage will continue versus those who lose interest once the world gets back to something more normal. Time will tell.”

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