Photo: John Canery

Cupid’s Undie Run Returns To Continue Fight Against NF

It all started with a crazy idea…

That’s how Cupid’s Charity, the group behind DC’s Cupid’s Undie Run on February 8, opens their story on the website. The idea of a mile(ish) run through a DC street in the winter came from co-founders Brendan Hanrahan, Chad Leathers and Bobby Gill. The trio dropped their pants in solidarity and frolicked for charity to help end neurofibromatosis (NF), a rare genetic disorder that causes tumors to grow on nerves throughout the body.

The inaugural event kicked off in 2010, and has grown since. With different sister events offered all over the country, the fundraisers have helped raise almost $20 million. To learn more about the festivities, we spoke with race director Ashley Casper about the event’s mission, what people can expect from this year and why the cause is worth the chills.

On Tap: How have the races changed since 2010? Are there any plans to celebrate the 10th anniversary? 
Ashley Casper: The inaugural 2010 event took place in DC and was a trial run to determine local interest and potential fundraising levels, bringing in more than 500 participants and fundraising more than $12,000. Since our very first Cupid’s Undie Run in 2010, we have spread awareness of NF and raised more than $18,900,000, thanks to the 107,000 undie runners and 247,000 donations that have supported more than 225 events across the country. [All] of net proceeds from our programs goes specifically towards NF research through our partner, the Children’s Tumor Foundation. The event has gotten larger over the years, but the one thing that always stays the same is our mission to end NF.

OT: What are some aspects that surprise people who sign up? Are there things participants mention to you regarding things they didn’t expect? 
AC: People often are surprised to hear that we run in undies in February, but there is a really great reason for it! We run in our undies because people with NF can’t cover up their tumors. They can’t put clothes on to feel more comfortable, so why should we? Also, while the event is pants-optional, we encourage participants to wear what they are most comfortable in. Tutus, onesies, bathrobes, costumes (we even have a costume contest!) are all encouraged. The important thing is that people show up, have fun and raise money for charity!

OT: What are some of the festivities people can expect aside from the race? What kinds of activities are planned? What are the ones people respond to most?
AC: At Cupid’s Undie Run, the party is as big as the one mile(ish) run is “brief.” Thanks to the support of local sponsors like DC Fray, Hot 99.5 and DCW50. The four-hour party features a DJ, a photobooth, mascots, awards for top fundraisers and a lot of energy.

OT: Have any pointers for first timers? 
AC: First, join or start a team, Cupid’s is a lot of fun with friends! There are prizes for top team fundraisers and people are very creative with team costumes. One of my favorites from 2019 was an entire team dressed as Waldo from Find Waldo. Two, layer up! Even if you’re wearing undies, you can add knee socks, scarves, hats and gloves to stay warm. Three, if your outfit does not leave room for pockets, no problem! Cupid’s offers fun awards for fundraising for NF and if you raise $250, you earn official 2020 Cupid’s undies PLUS open bar – no need for pockets.

OT: How do you all establish the goal year by year? 
AC: Our mission is to end NF and that is what drives us every year to increase fundraising and awareness. We’re always pushing ourselves to create the best event possible for our participants and increase our fundraising.

OT: Lastly, what does it mean to you to be apart of an event like this, with a fundraising angle? 
AC: It’s very rewarding to be a volunteer Race Director for the DC Cupid’s Undie Run. I have met so many wonderful people and families affected by NF, and the money we raise has a very real impact on their lives. The Foundation’s research initiatives have generated 116 pre-clinical studies that have led to 16 clinical trials. Being a part of an event that truly puts the FUN in fundraising and has such a positive impact on those affected by NF means everything to me. Every one mile(ish) we run and every dollar we raise gets us one step closer to a cure.

For more information about the race or how to get involved, visit

Photo: DC Fray

Five Reasons You Need To Pickup A #FrayLife Passport ASAP

Sponsored Content

Eager to explore the city with your friends but on a tight budget? Don’t let #FOMO get the best of you. Make fun possible with a #FrayLife Passport instead.  

Get your hands on one of the best new ways to get to know everything DC has to offer from food and drink to one-of-a-kind experiences. Here are five reasons why you need a Fray Passport.

Spend a Little, Save A LOT

Why pay full price on a night out or Sunday Funday when you can save 50 percent? There are more than $250 in savings in the Fray Life Passport with BOGOs galore. You’ll find 2-for-1 flights of rare whiskey samples at RiRa, 2-for-1 margaritas at Nellie’s, and even a 2-for-1 brunch deal at Medium Rare, just to name a few deals. 

You can even get savings on savings. Passports are $30, but you can save 20 percent by entering promo code FRAYPASSPORT20. Each offer is valued at $15-$20, so the passport basically pays for itself after one or two uses! Make memories. Save money. 

More Than Just Drinks!

Most city passport-type programs only offer deals at bars for beverages. While we love a good cocktail or brew, the #FrayLife Passport includes deals and exclusive offers on food, drinks, activities and even gym memberships. Not just your typical happy hour. 

#FrayLife wants you to see more of DC than a bar’s liquor shelf. We want you to hook you up with a discount at Topgolf and Arlington Escape Room, or help you save on workouts at Balance Gym, F45, and Pacers Run Club. Eat, drink and explore DC. 

Get to Know the DMV, Not Just DC

A #FrayLife Passport gives you the perfect opportunity to try a cuisine you’ve never had, visit a neighborhood you’ve never been to, or give that new exercise fad a try. If for some reason it wasn’t what you expected, you can at least feel good about the fact that you didn’t have to pay full price! With deals in Maryland and Northern Virginia, in addition to DC, you can get out and explore everything the DMV has to offer.

Rotating Deals, Year Round

New deals each season! There will be a summer/fall Passport as well with new offers on things to eat, drink and do in the DMV so you’ll never get bored. 

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Shake up your routine and use this opportunity to try something new with your friends. It’s an ideal way to impress your special someone on your next date night, and is a fantastic way to explore the city if you happen to be new here…or even if you’ve lived here for years. 

Sold on it yet? Get your Fray Life Passport now! Over $250 in savings for just $30. Did we say $30? Not so fast! Enter the promo code FRAYPASSPORT20 for 20 percent off your order. 

All orders include free shipping. Passports offers will be valid until June 30. For more information, visit

Sponsored Content

Photo: Drew Xeron

Squats and Margaritas: Fitness Blogger Erin Washington Finds Balance

Life is all about choices. Be a mom or be a writer. Do squats or drink margaritas.

But Northern Virginia based writer and fitness blogger Erin Washington has come to the conclusion that it’s not the either/or that makes life worth living; it’s having both things and finding the right balance that’s the key. 

Her first book, “Squats and Margaritas: A Journey to Finding Balance,” was released this month, and in it, Washington details her more than 20 year struggle to find that sweet spot between discipline and indulgence in her own life. She hopes that talking about her hard times will help others through their own rough patches.

“This book shares my journey through overcoming a serious eating disorder,” Washington says. “[I was] finding true happiness by living my life with balance. And it shows the reader exactly how they can do it too.”

Washington grew up in Ohio, played Division 1 soccer at the University of Dayton, and ended up in DC working for the Redskins. There, she met her future husband, former Redskins linebacker Marcus Washington. They married and have two young children.

These days, Washington juggles her roles as mom, writer and fitness blogger. Her more than 15,000 followers on Instagram look to her for inspiration.

“So many women are turning to social media to follow fitness influencers for motivation, and it’s exciting to be able to provide daily content to my followers and be able to motivate them in real time.”

She shares what works for her, and offers tips for getting back in shape after the holidays. Washington says it starts with what you’re eating.

“You can start by eating small meals more often versus having three large meals per day, and increasing your water intake. Nutrition is a big part of losing weight. Tackle that first by eating clean – no processed foods – every couple of hours, and drinking eight glasses of water each day, even when you’re not thirsty. When you start seeing results on the scale, you’ll feel more confident about getting in the gym and starting an exercise program.”

So why did she pick that title, “Squats and Margaritas?” For her, margaritas symbolize the balance she’s constantly working towards.

“A margarita, for me, is the indulgence I can’t live without. For someone else, it may be a beer or red wine. You have to allow for the thing that you can’t live without because if you know you can have that, you won’t quit on your healthy eating plan. If you cut something out of your diet that you love, you will eventually fail because you’ll be miserable. Restriction isn’t sustainable, balance is.”

Instead of restricting yourself, Washington says, you can have your indulgence as long as you find somewhere else in your diet and exercise plan to balance it out.

“Skip the bun on your chicken sandwich,” she says. “Don’t have a beer at happy hour if you’re having a margarita at dinner.”

And she offers one last tip for readers.

“The best margarita I’ve ever had is the jalapeno cucumber margarita at Matchbox. It’s the best. Trust me. I’ve done the research.”

For more on Erin Washington, visit her website and follow her on Instagram @squatsandmargaritas. Find her new book on Amazon.

Photos: Ashley Habeck

Pilates Studio Empowers DC Residents For 21 Years

For 21 years, Excel Pilates DC has been a cornerstone business in DC’s Brookland neighborhood. 

What was just an empty space in 1998 transformed into a full blown Pilates studio when Lesa McLaughlin and former business partner Kerry De Vivo, talked the owner of the space into renting it to them. The two women built out the entire studio themselves, painting the walls and floors, and filling the space with reformers, wall units, chairs, barrels and more. McLaughlin calls the process “a labor of love.”

The term “Pilates” comes from Joseph Pilates, the founder of robust exercises centered around coordination, balance, strength and flexibility. 

“Empower Your Body, Empower Your Mind,” is the Excel Pilates DC motto. With a strong commitment to following the original teachings of Joseph Pilates, McLaughlin says that what makes her studio unique is that its teachings are “authentic.”

Lesa McLaughlin

McLaughlin grew up as a multi-sport athlete and pursued a dance degree at George Mason University. She went on to dance professionally, but was injured in a car accident toward the later part of her career, inspiring her to go to New York to practice and study Pilates. She then became certified in The Pilates Method of Body Conditioning in 1995, under the instruction of Joseph Pilates’ own student, Romana Kryzanowska.

Pilates was a natural transition for McLaughlin, and helped her find her way back to dance in a pain-free way. 

That is the intriguing part about the exercise method to many people. Regardless of fitness experience, McLaughlin said Pilates is for everyone.

“Pilates isn’t physical therapy, it’s exercise. It can be taught in a way that it’s for everybody,” McLaughlin says. “You don’t have to be an elite athlete or dancer to experience the work in a meaningful way.”

Having a meaningful experience with Pilates is one requirement candidates must have to go through McLaughlin’s teacher training program, along with several others. All of her teachings are classical, rooting from the original teachings of Joseph Pilates, which is one reason why Jaqueline Emanuel, an Excel Pilates DC instructor, fell in love with the studio. 

Emanuel joined the studio as a student in 2000, and knew she had the passion necessary to eventually become an instructor.

“What I like most about Pilates, and why I wanted to be a teacher, is because I believe in it so much. Anybody can do it,” Emanuel says. “It’s complete coordination of mind, body, spirit and I find that to be a unique quality in the movement.”

As the Pilates movement has grown over the years, so has Excel Pilates. In 2002, a second location opened in Annapolis Maryland, which is now owned and operated by De Vivo. Just five years ago, Alexandra Adams, a former student of Excel Pilates DC, opened another location in McLean, Virginia. These are the “sister” studios to the DC location.

Over the past 21 years of owning her own business, seeing the community that the studio has created is extremely satisfying to McLaughlin. Clients who frequented the studio when it first opened still travel today from other areas in DC to take classes, and there is something to be said for that.

“To know people are dedicated not only to the work, but to our studio, and to see people experience the work and do things they wouldn’t be able to do, that’s rewarding for me,” McLaughlin says. “That’s why I do it.”

To learn more about Excel Pilates DC and class offerings, visit

Excel Pilates DC: 3407 8th St. NE, DC; 202-269-3020;

Photo: courtesy of Dan Silverman

Prince Of Petworth Presents Different Look At DC

If you clicked the “crime” tab on the popular blog, the Prince of Petworth, and scroll down, here is what you would have seen over a one week period in December:

December 10: Update: Arrest Made. Security Guards reportedly stabbed and hit by car at the Basilica; Police in Standoff in Brightwood with Suspect

December 12: “Apparently someone was in the treeline shooting at police officers near the 7-11 not far from Catholic University”

December 16: What the Hell Went Down This Weekend? 10:20 a.m. Saturday Shooting Homicide in Brentwood; Shots Fired in Shaw; 10-11 year old sought in a robbery investigation in Columbia Heights

If you were to read the blog, perhaps better known around town as PoPville, on a regular basis, you would think we’re living in a war zone. The blog creator Dan Silverman has been blogging about DC since 2006 and notes, “Crime in DC has always been bumping up and down. It’s cyclical.”

Silverman would know. By creating a space where users can post crimes as they occur, his blog documented crime, arguably, much quicker than any mainstream news outlet in the District.

The first time I met Silverman was when I invited him to do a podcast with my then host and I in 2013. Upon greeting him in the lobby of the studio in Eckington, his curiosity for DC was palpable. Before even shaking my hand he excitedly went on about how the building across the street looked totally different years ago. He was intriguing to me for a variety of reasons. Many people I knew or heard of had talked about writing “The Blog of Washington,” as if it were the great American novel, but few actually did it. And if they did, far less found a way to make a living off of it.  There he stood: short, blonde and New York as hell, knowing more about the happenings of my city than I did.

“I started the blog because of development,” Silverman says. “You kept hearing, this is coming, that’s going to happen, and I’m like what? Where? Couldn’t find anything about it. And I’m a pretty obsessive person. If I want to know about it, I really want to know about it. I don’t want to read about it once a month or once a week. I said, yeah, what the hell, I’ll start it myself.”

He did and it became extremely popular. But one additional way it proved extremely effective is by allowing real time access to information about crimes in DC. Yes, The Washington Post covers violent crime thoroughly, but doesn’t operate with the speed of a site built to function like a social media platform.

“A lot of our crime posts are user generated,” he says. “Reports as they arrive. A shooting will occur and 60 seconds later someone is messaging me about hearing gun shots.”  

The nation’s capital is a fast growing city. Cranes decorate the sky as do homeless tents on our sidewalks.  And since this is DC, with perhaps the most opinionated demographic in the country, the response to this urban sprawl and some of its pitfalls are varied. This includes crime, which is something Silverman is acutely aware both from emails and the comment box on his blog. 

“What’s crazy is there will be a post about a beating or robbery and someone will comment or email, ‘I’m glad they got beat up.’ Now that’s f*cked up. That person just got seriously injured,” Silverman says.  

But this is the climate we live in: Anger, frustration and dissent have a home in DC.

“We’re seeing a lot more assaults, a lot more weapon use,” said Anwar Graves, former assistant U.S. attorney for the the city, now associate counsel at O’Melveny & Myers LLP.

When asked about what age groups he was seeing commit these crimes he said, “When it comes to the age groups it truly does vary. The defendants are getting younger and younger, unfortunately. We are having a lot of juveniles that we are trying as adults.”

Which begs the question, what on earth is contributing to this?

“A defense attorney said that once you get to age 8, if they haven’t found a way to make sure you are in a safe environment by [then], you are becoming more at risk to commit a crime,” Graves says.  

Through the Prince of Petworth blog, Washingtonians gain a different lens into crime in DC, more specifically in their own neighborhoods but due to the frequency of these posts, it also raises the question: Is crime in DC actually getting worse?  

Silverman’s blog was intended to be upbeat and positive, and should absolutely be celebrated for being a go to for all of the curiosities of DC, but since its inception, the site also unfortunately provides an aperture into a city in pain.

For more information about Prince of Petworth, visit

Madeline Rothman // Photo: In His Eye Photography

District Clay Center Provides Holiday Shoppers With Pottery Bonanza

During the holiday shopping season, do you ever stop and think about who created the items you’re purchasing? Over the weekend, District Clay Center held its holiday pottery sale, where local ceramic artists displayed their handmade wares. Beautiful vases, delicate ornaments, earrings and necklaces, just to name a few, were for sale. With each artist showcasing their own unique style, there was definitely something for everyone on your shopping list. 

I had the chance to meet and chat with one of the artists at the event, Madeline Rothman. She is one (of three) of the Artists In Residence at District Clay Center. The Artist in Residence Program is year long, and gives the artists a stipend, studio space, clay to create and a solo exhibition at the end of her year.

Rothman, a graduate of the Tyler School of Art at Temple University, says of her experience at District Clay, “The studio is sort of run by the people who use it, which is unique. There is a lot of trust and respect within all of the artists to make sure everything is getting done and running smoothly. This is the kind of environment that clay requires and is also why I love it so much.” 

“The community is so accepting and supportive.”

The space definitely has a warm familial feel to it. The holiday sale was my first time visiting District Clay, but I truly felt right at home. You could definitely sense the feeling of community, as fellow artists mingled and shared laughs as they set up their tables. As I walked around and explored the plentiful goods for sale, I was really happy to see such a diversity in style and goods at an excellent price point.

When I stopped by Rothman’s table, among her gorgeous, larger pieces of colorful pottery for sale, there was a section of equally beautiful espresso cups (or shot glasses… pick your poison) for sale, with proceeds from those directly benefiting District Clay’s nonprofit program Community Clay. 

“I have been teaching as well as trying to raise money to grow our program and hopefully be able to give even more students an opportunity to learn and make art,” she says. “It is extremely rewarding after a class ends [and] how excited the students are to return.”

The District Clay Center partnered with ArtReach GW (George Washington University) to create a free clay class for children in the Southeast part of DC. The classes are held at THEARC: Town Hall Education Arts Recreation Campus.

“A lot of these students in Ward 7 and Ward 8 neighborhoods don’t have access to many art opportunities, especially with clay.”

Naturally, I took a couple home with me, as well as some other incredible goods from the local artists at District Clay. As I headed home, I was filled with joy at the knowledge of how my holiday purchases would directly benefit my local community. That to me is the pinnacle of the holiday spirit.

For more information about District Clay Center and its future events, visit here. To see a gallery of the event, click here.

District Clay Center: 2414 Douglas St. NE, DC;

Cathy Barrow // Photo: courtesy of Story District

Breaking Bread: Food Industry Vets And Celebrity Chefs Open Up To DC Audiences

Food tells stories about our lives: recipes handed down through generations with no exact measurements, a dish that was learned while traveling abroad or even a recipe discovered when you had to get creative with what little there was in the pantry – and it turned out delicious. Food tells stories about our families, our cultural heritage, our travels and so much more.

When searching for recipes online, you’d be hard-pressed to find a recipe that isn’t accompanied by a story of some kind. Even for cooks as challenged in the kitchen as I am, my favorite dishes all have their own stories – like the Egyptian macaroni béchamel that my mother refuses to write down exact directions for or the scrambled eggs with corned beef that makes up my father’s entire recipe repertoire (to be eaten straight from the pan with pita bread, no discussion).

The stories that surround the food we make can be touching, funny, nostalgic, painful or, likely in a lot of cases, some combination of all four. So, imagine the stories that professional chefs and those who work in the food industry can tell. Local arts organization and storytelling series Story District is hosting Breaking Bread to do just that: tell their stories. On December 17, celebrity chefs and insiders from the food and hospitality industry in the DC area will gather at Sixth & I downtown to share their stories onstage.

Their stories are as diverse and varied as the foods they cook. Celebrity chef and TV personality Carla Hall will tell a story about her time as a competitor on Top Chef. Washington Post food writer Cathy Barrow will tell the audience about a 60s dinner party scene, à la Mad Men. Chef Ashish Alfred, owner of three Bethesda restaurants (Duck Duck Goose, George’s Chophouse and The Loft at 4935), will tell his harrowing tale about overcoming addiction while choosing to remain in an industry that can be grueling.

Although their careers and experiences might seem intimidating to those who can barely boil water, the stories they’ll tell are about much more than just food.

“Any time I share my story, I hope people take away that if you want a different life, the only thing standing in your way is you,” Alfred told On Tap.

Alfred knew exactly what story he wanted to tell. But for Hall, who can be seen cooking – and acting – on TV and who used to model, narrowing it down to one story was more difficult.

“It’s like therapy when you’re going through [the process], because it’s so much and they are pulling these stories out of you, which is so incredible,” Hall said.

She ultimately decided on a story about her time on Top Chef because it’s a story of a struggle.

“People assume from the outside that success looks one way and I think in telling my story, it will show a different side of myself. People are so used to me being shown [in this] very happy [way], which is true. But this is a story [where] I am actually sharing a struggle.”

Although being in the competitive limelight of a show like Top Chef might seem natural for someone as used to celebrity attention as Hall, she had to get used to judgment – not only from the judges on the show but from the millions who were watching it, too.

“It’s emotionally hard. You feel emotionally exposed [and] vulnerable because you’re making your food and then you’re being judged. You’re being judged publicly by millions of people who can’t actually eat the food.”

When it was time for Barrow to pick a story, she thought she knew exactly what she wanted to tell: how she became a food writer. But she said the story, told on many a book tour, felt stale. Instead, she decided on something a little more glamorous.

“My story is about how the dinner party scene in the 60s and Andy Warhol and my dreams of stardom all came together.”

Barrow’s story will touch on the family history genre of food stories, describing a time when people – including Barrow’s mother – hosted or attended dinner parties every weekend. The 60s was the decade that most informed Barrow’s cooking experience.

“I have been cooking since I was a very young child, and I had really expanded expectations. I wasn’t just going to make chocolate chip cookies. I was going to make a madeleine, you know? The dinner party was what informed all of that for me. There was a whole ritual to it – the fine china, the linen, the crystal – and how shiny everything was. It was very fancy.”

And non-chefs have a lot to learn from those in the industry.

“I think there’s always something to learn from people in the food industry because that’s what we work with,” Barrow said. “There’s a lot more to us. These stories are stories of redemption and expansion and unlikely opportunity, and I think that that resonates in all aspects of life and every kind of work.”

These stories remind us of the fact that chefs are normal people. The food industry can be a difficult place to work on every level, even if you’re not in the spotlight.

“We are real people with real problems who are laying ourselves bare every time we serve a plate and invite you into our restaurants,” Alfred said.

Despite the diversity of their stories, everyone had a similar answer when about what makes DC’s food scene special: the people who work in it.

“There is a great community [in DC] where it doesn’t necessarily feel competitive,” Hall said. “It feels like we’re all in this together.”

Catch Hall, Alfred, Barrow and four other DC food industry vets speak at Sixth & I for Breaking Bread: Stories by Celebrity Chefs and Industry Insiders on Tuesday, December 17. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and tickets are $30-$35. Learn more at

Sixth & I: 600 I St. NW, DC; 202-408-3100;

Photo: courtesy of Food Rescue US

Food Rescue US Fights Food Waste, Helps Feed DC

Imagine a restaurant with delicious, healthy food. The chefs prepare enough to serve hundreds of people daily, but often, good resources are thrown out and left to rot in a landfill. Meanwhile, 11.1 percent of U.S. households were food insecure at least some time during 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, including 5.6 million households with very low food security.

In an effort to combat this reality, Food Rescue US is taking action to prevent food waste and combat food insecurity with the help of technology. This year, the nonprofit has recovered around 730,000 meals, and since October 2016, the organization has recovered 2 million pounds of food. This recovered food amounts to $3.5 million, a staggering amount and a point of pride that shows how the organization’s efforts benefit its respective communities.

“[Food Rescue US] helps address food waste and hunger,” says DC site director Kate Urbank. “[Approximately] 40 million people, including 12 million children, are food insecure in the U.S. If we could take more of the food being wasted and direct it to folks who are food insecure, it solves two problems: it [reduces] methane gases from food rotting in landfills, which is a huge contributor to climate change, [and the food is] redirected to people who are food insecure.”

Places that donate food include one-off catered conferences that do not want to throw out premade food, restaurants and even organizations like the World Bank. Receiving agents may be places that serve the homeless or local women’s shelters. One of Urbank’s goals is to find agencies that are not well-known about around the District and can benefit from the organization’s services.

Want to help the organization? There’s an app for that. The Food Rescue US app uses an algorithm to match food donors and agents who have a surplus of resources with nearby receiving agencies and organizations that feed people. Urbank uses the app to help coordinate efforts with volunteers known as food rescuers, who transport surplus food from food donors to receiving agencies.

A third version of the app is under development, and the update will make for a more seamless and interactive experience. However, for now there is a need for a human intermediary, and Urbank sits at the helm where she conducts conversations with donors once they sign up.

“I know these folks well enough to either email or text my posse and tell them we need to go out to [a location] because it is not covered,” she says. “Usually, someone steps up. Sometimes, I will write to my donor and say, ‘Can you hold the food until tomorrow morning, and I will get someone there tomorrow?’”

Failure to deliver food from donors to receiving agencies is not an option. When a match happens, a food rescuer is enlisted to ensure pickup and delivery. People use different modes of transportation, including a wagon, to rescue the food. The time it takes to participate is roughly 30 minutes to an hour, and anyone can try volunteering once to see if they enjoy it.

“Some people do one rescue and maybe never do it ever again,” Urbank continues. “Some people do it three times a month. Some people do it [two or] three times a week. It is up to the individual to opt in. You can schedule yourself.”

Food Rescue US is one of many organizations offering a solution to America’s food waste problem. With a hand-to-hand operation, donors can see financial benefits and food rescuers can actively help their community by ensuring that receiving agencies provide hungry people with food that would otherwise be discarded.

“[Food Rescue US] is about offering an option: a solution for businesses that want to donate their food and have not had the time or the knowledge to know where to take it,” Urbank adds.

For more info about volunteering with Food Rescue US and to download the app, visit

Community yoga class at Bread for the City // Photo: Gracy Obuchowicz

Pay It Forward, DC: 15 Ways To Give Back Locally

‘Tis the season for paying it forward, so we decided to put together a list of 15 ways to give back to the DC community year-round. Our handpicked list is chock-full of unique organizations eager to put new volunteers’ hands and minds to novel uses. Read on for a list of creative ways you can give more of yourself to those in need around the District.

Restore the Anacostia Watershed

Eco-minded folks can help restore wetlands, plant native plants, collect seeds and much more, all while learning about the watershed and its ecosystem.

Put Down Roots with Casey Trees

Channel your inner tree-hugger through a variety of opportunities, from tree planting and tree care to advocacy.

Get Your Hands Dirty with Columbia Heights Green

Put your green thumb to good use at Columbia Heights Green, one of many participating parks and gardens in the Community Harvest Program at Washington Parks & People.

Show Compassion & Offer Advocacy through HIPS

Donate to and/or volunteer with HIPS (Harm Reduction Experts Improving Lives Since 1993), offering compassionate harm reduction services and advocacy to people who engage in sex work or drug use in the DC area.

Expand Your Practice with Yoga Activist

Are you a yoga teacher who wants to take the practice outside of the confines of traditional studio spaces? Yoga Activist is the place to do it.

Knit It Forward in the District

Do you stay calm and knit on? Join one of many knitting meetups held at DC Public Library locations and/or donate your handknitted items to a variety of charities. //

Feed the Hungry with So Others Might Eat

Help provide nourishing breakfasts for those in need. They use real eggs, too – none of that powder stuff.

Provide a Fitness Framework for Girls on the Run

Volunteer with the DC chapter of this national nonprofit dedicated to making a world where every girl is free to boldly pursue her dreams through running. Support students during a 10-week program to help them establish an appreciation for health and fitness.

Dress to Impress with Suited for Change

Help local women entering the job market dress to impress through a variety of volunteering and donating options, including leading a styling workshop.

Support Senior Citizens at We Are Family

Help isolated senior citizens with groceries, cleaning, transportation or just a friendly visit. Make a new friend this season by joining We Are Family.

Save the Felines with Alley Cat Rescue

The trap-neuter-return program at Alley Cat can make life on the streets a little more bearable for our furry friends. Donate to the rescue or adopt one of their many cuddle bugs.

Be a Classroom Volunteer at Carlos Rosario International

Volunteer in adult ESL, culinary, IT and health classes and programs at Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School, and/or join as a mentor through the Impact Mentorship Program.

Mentor Families with Northstar Tutoring

Tutor, mentor and help support members of low-income families in DC through Northstar Tutoring.

Help the Homeless at Friendship Place

Help people in need transition out of homelessness at Friendship Place through a variety of volunteer roles, from mentoring to cleaning.

Go Pro Bono with the D.C. Bar

If you’re a DC lawyer, you can give back by providing a variety of pro bono legal services.

Coach Soccer with DC Scores

Score a winning goal by helping coach and referee soccer games.

Paintings by Christine Olmstead on display at Latela Curatorial // Photo: Sloane Dakota Tucker

Five Art Destinations Changing DC’s Creative Scene

Looking for some new or unique places to experience art in the District? Check out our picks for where to enjoy DC’s thriving arts scene, from galleries and pop-ups to programs and workshops.

Latela Curatorial Explores New Spaces

Latela Curatorial is an art consultancy with a focus on women artists and the feminine aesthetic. While they’ve held exhibitions of artists’ work at their Brookland studio and office since 2015, they’re transitioning into installing work in larger spaces and finding ways to bring local creatives and their visions to big projects.

“We’ve been refining where we want our projects to go from here on out, focusing on that feminine, delicate, vulnerable, energy-transcending type of narrative from a female artist perspective,” says founder and director Marta Staudinger.

The Brookland-based space just celebrated a successful showing at Superfine Art Fair, and Staudinger and her team are now thinking of ways to build on that energy.

“We introduced several local female artists [at Superfine],” she continues. “Where my interest for 2020 lies is in proposing that booth [at Superfine] as a teaser for a much bigger exhibition that we could do [where we] work with larger institutions.”

Check out Latela’s website to learn more about its artists, exhibitions, and procurement and installation work, and peek your head into the new Avec apartment building on H Street soon for a glimpse of Latela artists’ work.

“We’re super excited to do procurement on that scale,” Staudinger adds of the residential art project. “Nothing is mass-produced. It’s all original art.”

Latela Curatorial is providing spaces all over DC with artwork that’s more than just beautiful – it resonates.

716 Monroe St. #27, NE, DC;

The Omi Collective’s Hydrated Womxn Pop-Up

The DC Arts Walk and Edgewood Arts Center is hosting “Hydrated Womxn,” an interactive media exhibition, healing arts residency and holiday bazaar curated by the Omi Collective on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays now through December 22. The central idea is to create a space at the Brookland location where people can relax and recharge while surrounded by creativity.

“We’re challenging people to think about what nourishes them,” says Omi Collective Curator and Creative Director Sanam Emami. “Someone can come in during art lounge hours and step into our joy.”

Resident artists are multidisciplinary, communicating through art, poetry, music and more. Each weekend will explore a different theme with events, performances and workshops meant to leave attendees feeling inspired, centered and creatively hydrated – alongside thoughtfully curated offerings for sale from local artists.

“It’s about the process, not the product,” Emami says.

EWBA Store, Brookland Arts Walk: 716 Monroe St. Studio 1, NE, DC;

Hemphill Fine Arts Moves to K Street

Hemphill has been an integral part of the art community in DC since opening in 1993, and has built a reputation for working with collectors and art aficionados of all ages, incomes and backgrounds. The gallery represents a variety of contemporary artists working in sculpture, painting, photography and mixed media, with recent exhibitions from Julie Wolfe, Hedieh Javanshir, Rushern Baker IV and James Britton.

Now, the gallery is preparing for a big move in January. Director Mary Early says the move “is a dramatic change from our space of the last 15 years on 14th Street in Logan Circle, where we were located on the third floor of a historic building.”

“That location required a little extra from visitors,” she says. “The effort to seek out and find us, the desire to pursue.”

But the new space in Mount Vernon Square brings unique opportunities for visitors to become familiar with Hemphill artists.

“The move to K Street comes full circle to our beginnings in Georgetown in 1993, bringing us back to a first-floor space in a rapidly evolving neighborhood.”

The gallery’s inaugural exhibition will be Linling Lu’s third solo show with the gallery. Hemphill will soon be bringing visitors old and new to its home on K Street.

“We’re looking forward to getting to know our new downtown neighborhood,” Early adds.

434 K St. NW, DC;

Femme Fatale’s New Pop-Up

Femme Fatale is fast becoming a DC fixture as a pop-up showcasing women artists and entrepreneurs. Visitors can expect to find a trove of jewelry, art, prints, clothing and more. CEO Cee Smith says that Femme Fatale is starting to settle into its role in DC’s creative scene.

“We’re definitely still in startup mode, but we’ve had a chance to assess the value that Femme Fatale brings to different communities,” she says.

Femme Fatale has become well-known for its events – from craft workshops to networking parties – and for its bright and welcoming aesthetic.

“We’ve always been this hub for women not only to gather, but to learn from each other,” says Femme Fatale’s owner and jewelry designer Adriana Mendoza.

Now, Femme Fatale is taking on a more “structured type of template to create a real incubator space for women,” she says.

You’d never know that just a few weeks ago, the new pop-up was a gutted restaurant. Art is everywhere: murals, paintings behind the counter, and jewelry, accessories and textile designs for sale in the shop.

Artists are “the secret sauce of the experience of Femme Fatale,” Smith says. Her team prioritizes supporting a wide range of local creatives and especially “those who might just be starting out or who haven’t really had their voice heard,” Mendoza adds. In other words, Femme Fatale provides a great opportunity to find a unique local piece you might not see anywhere else.

401 Massachusetts Ave. NW, DC;

The Torpedo Factory Celebrates 45 Years

The Torpedo Factory Art Center is an icon of Old Town Alexandria. This year, it celebrated 45 years as an art institution with studios, galleries, classes taught by the Art League School, events and more.

“One of the biggest changes since the Torpedo Factory was founded is how much Old Town and the waterfront has changed,” says director Brett Johnson. “It’s become a vibrant and exciting destination, and it’s been great that the art center was a part of that change.”

Looking ahead, the art center is finding more ways to engage with the community and bring more visitors within its walls.

“City council has tasked staff to create a vibrancy and sustainability plan for the art center,” Johnson adds. “We are seeking to create an even more interactive space than what we already provide with new, hands-on experiences.”

That means everything from well-loved programs like Art Safari to newer ones like Factory Flow morning yoga, as well as seasonal events like the Holiday Market and Olde Year’s Day. On December 13, the art center will look back on the first five years of its post-grad residency program, which supports recent art grads with studio space and presentation opportunities.

105 N Union St. Alexandria, VA;