Virtual Library Meets Need for Escape for Alexandrians

Every week, hundreds of Alexandrians have counted on being able to walk through the doors of James M. Duncan Branch Library, a place that has proven to be much more than the thousands of books it makes available to patrons. Before the onset of COVID-19, young children (and their caretakers) looked forward to trips to Duncan Library for story time programs, and every day, students relied on its technology to tackle assignments.

Tom Susco Completes 8-Year Run

Despite how strong we are in personality, character – or even how powerful we seem physically – we are forever at the mercy of a functioning brain, a steadily beating heart, regular blood flow, and more. Arlington’s Tom Susco understands the fragility of life all too well. Twelve years ago, his younger brother Tim – who was just 25 years old at time – unexpectedly died after an aneurysm ruptured in his brain.

Paralympic Swimmer Competes on World Stage

Alyssa Gialamas first started swimming when she was just three years old. At the time, it was a form of physical therapy for the now 24-year-old Arlington resident, who was born with arthrogryposis – multiple contracted joints – in her legs and hands. Still, it wouldn’t be until years after her first dip in a pool that she’d even have a glimpse of her future as a world-class athlete and a member of Team USA. Gialamas is a gold medal winning member of Team USA, for that matter.

People: Political Scientist by Day and Writer by Night

Arlington mystery author Colleen Shogan was on her weekly Friday evening walk a few years ago when the idea for her first “whodunit” novel struck. “Seven or eight years ago, during my walk, my mind started to wander,” said Shogan, an Arlington-based political scientist and writer. “I’ve always read a lot of mystery books, so I remember thinking, ‘If I wrote a mystery book, what would the plan be?’

The Challenge of Finding a Compatible Kidney

Every single day is a struggle for Eduardo Barahona, who has been battling chronic kidney disease for more than seven years. As his kidneys gradually shut down, Barahona – an Alexandria resident – is in constant discomfort, and often in flat out pain. “In the last three years especially it’s gotten harder and harder to work,” Barahona, who works for local home renovation firm Harry Braswell, Inc., said. “I get dizzy spells, and I am not able to sleep through the night, so I’m not at 100 percent..."

Cookbook Keeps Raising Funds for Animals

Thirteen-year-old Miles Fazackerley has adored animals for as long as he can remember, and he’s loved cooking for as long as he’s been tall enough to see his kitchen countertop. Buoyed by these two passions, the young Alexandria native put together his own cookbook to raise money for two animal rescue non-profit organizations. Published in December of 2017, “Mixing it up with Miles” has raised more than $4,000 (and counting) collectively for the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the

At Core of Civil Rights: A Spiritual Movement

No one in the world can succeed alone — not even heroes like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. One critical member of this legendary figure’s team was Howard Thurman — a chaplain and “spiritual mentor not only to Dr. King, but to the entire Civil Rights Movement,” in the words of documentary filmmaker Martin Doblmeier. This year, Doblmeier’s Alexandria-based production company, Journey Films, released “Backs Against the Wall: The Howard Thurman Story” — a documentary that chronicles Thurman’s life.

Examining Confluence of Religion and Journalism

Michael Gryboski has a few things in common with Scott Addison, the main character he created for his latest novel, “A Spiral into Marvelous Light” — the story of a writer tackling an article with a heated subject. Like Addison, Gryboski — an Alexandria native — is an experienced journalist with ties to the D.C. area. They both cover political issues of national impact and confront controversial topics.

Identifying Descendants of Civil War-era Freed Slaves

These days, it can be simple to discover more information about distant relatives. With Internet access, a computer, and a few keystrokes, you can accurately add a branch to your family tree. However, it’s not easy when any of your family tree’s branches are made up of relatives who had been American slaves. When websites don’t get the job done, you turn to a professional genealogist like Char McCargo-Bah, the Alexandria native who identified the descendants of 171 of the Civil War-era freed slaves...

Alexandria Playwright Returns with ‘Kings’

You can take the woman out of Washington, but you can’t take the Washington out of her. Consider Sarah Burgess, a playwright who hails from Alexandria. In her now-showing play, “Kings,” she demonstrates the staying power of this area’s pervasive influence. She wrote the script to explore what goes on between lobbyists and politicians. The comedic plot of “Kings” unfolds around brand new Congresswoman Sydney Millsap as she navigates Washington’s terrain...

Making Space Not So Far Out of Reach

The Space Race may be history, but Herndon teenager Jason Chen insists that rocket science is still universally important. For people who can’t quite wrap their heads around rocketry, Chen — a sophomore at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST) — created an award-worthy video to break down some of the concepts. “Space just seems too far out of reach for so many people,” Chen said. “It feels so far away and confusing, but if you break it down, it’s truly fascinating..."

100th New Build: Habitat for Humanity Northern Virginia Builds for the Future

The average American spends almost 40 percent of their take-home pay on housing, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the cost of living in Northern Virginia isn’t average. “We have a real problem in Northern Virginia with gentrification,” said Jon Smoot, executive director of Habitat for Humanity Northern Virginia (Habitat NOVA) said. “Home prices go up three to five percent every year while people on fixed incomes don’t have a way to cover those cost increases..."

Marking Year in Driver’s Shooting with a Protest in Mount Vernon

This time last year, then-25-year-old Bijan Ghaisar had a lot to look forward to: Thanksgiving, the approaching winter holidays, the start of a new year. Beyond that, all signs pointed to a promising future. Yet, on the otherwise insignificant evening of Friday, Nov. 17, 2017, two United States Park Police officers brandished their guns and shot Ghaisar nine times following a car chase on the George Washington Memorial Parkway. Gaisar died 10 days later, on Monday, Nov. 27, 2017.

Helping Make People Aware of Thrombosis

The prospect of cancer in any form strikes fear in everybody. As a result of this pervasive concern, there is widespread awareness of both preventative measures and warning signals. But, what about other common life-threatening diseases and conditions that simply aren’t on enough people's’ radars? For instance, thrombosis – the formation of blood clots within a blood vessel – is a condition that every year affects hundreds of thousands of people in the United States alone.

Communicating about Death Before Last Rites are Needed

Most of what happens in life is, simply put, beyond human control. Expect the unexpected, they say, because it is impossible to plan for everything. Larry Houk, an Alexandria resident and lawyer who practiced real estate and elder law for 44 years, has seen the peace that comes from “preparing for the worst and hoping from the best.” He knows that peace so well that he wrote the book on it — literally.
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