a group of Alexandria city officials including the mayor stand in front of a ribbon with a giant pair of scissors
Mayor Wilson helps ALIVE! cut the ribbon on their new food hub. (Photo Grace Billups Arnold)

ALEXANDRIA, VA–On Thursday, May 26, ALIVE! cut the ribbon on their brand new food hub located in the Van Dorn Station shopping center in Alexandria’s west end (510-F S. Van Dorn St.).



a man in a tan suit and purple tie claps his hands together in front of the ALIVE! Food Hub
Gerry Hebert, Chair, ALIVE! Development Committee (Photo Grace Billups Arnold)

After acquiring the location in January 2022, it was a long process to bring the empty shell to where it is today. Gerry Hebert, Chair of ALIVE!’s Development Committee explains, “There was no floor, no back wall, half the ceiling was not here, the electrical was not up to code to handle commercial products… we had to do all that infrastructure. We knew what we wanted and we had a team that constantly communicated about what we were trying to do, given what our clients told us they wanted and needed.”

Enter The Oasis Alliance, a group of interior designers who curate space for trauma survivors. Founder and CEO of Oasis Alliance, Danielle Woodhouse Johnson, had worked with Friends of Guest House on a project, and heard about ALIVE!’s mission after that project. Johnson says, “When we heard about this project, I just thought let’s do it! Our missions really aligned.”

This was not the typical residential space the The Oasis Alliance normally designs for. The walls were the only tool they had at their design disposal. So they conducted interviews to search for the perfect artists to bring life to the white box.

a colorful mural of geometric concentric circles next to a larger than life size bird
Eric Harris’s mural in the ALIVE! Food Hub. (Photo Grace Billups Arnold)

The final featured artists are Eric Ricks and his brother Eddie, along with Benay L. Walker. The trio enveloped the walls in warmth and color and creativity. When you walk into the Food Hub, your eyes will dart immediately to Eric’s intricate mural on the entry wall: a larger-than-life sized bird surrounded by geometric patterns and bold palettes.

a man in a hat poses in front of a wall with a mural of two origami birds
Eddie Harris poses in front of his mural. (Photo Grace Billups Arnold)

Directly across from this mural is another mural, by Eddie, of two origami birds, reflecting the same geometry and brightness. Another mural, painted by Arabic calligraphy muralist Benay L. Walker, is the Arabic script for “alive.” Walker, who is also a vinyl DJ, chose this script rather serendipitously.

a woman with red hair and glasses poses in front of her mural of the arabic script for "alive" written in the form of a heart in turquoise
Benay L. Walker poses in front of her mural. (Photo Grace Billups Arnold)

She states, “I did not know the name of the organization before I chose the word for my piece. Picked ‘alive’ because I like to write the word in Arabic, and I chose to write it in a heart because ALIVE! is the heart of Virginia and nonprofit work in the community. I wanted to find a way to add liveliness to the ALIVE! space.”

a shelf of canned goods in front of a wall that reads ALIVE FOOD HUB
The ALIVE! Food Hub is open Tuesday through Saturday. (Photo Grace Billups Arnold)
boxes of potatoes, onions, and oranges
Fresh produce is also available. (Photo Grace Billups Arnold)
a silver shelf holding nonperishable food items, like honey and baking goods
This shelf holds baking needs. (Photo Grace Billups Arnold)
an industrial fridge filled with eggs
The fridge holds eggs and milk and juice. (Photo Grace Billups Arnold)
a silver shelf holding non perishable goods, this one holds mac and cheese
Non perishable items are available, like mac n cheese. (Photo Grace Billups Arnold)
a silver shelf holding non perishable foods, like cereal
This shelf holds cereal, like the favorite Rice Krispies. (Photo Grace Billups Arnold)

As you travel farther through the hub, you will see shelves and fridges and freezers of food, donated by Amazon FreshWegmansGiant, and St. Lucy Project. Boxes of cereal and canned goods and fresh eggs and milk and bread all lie in wait on the glistening shelves to fill someone’s plate.

a children's play set with dining table and chairs and books
The children’s nook in the new food hub. (Photo Grace Billups Arnold)

The back of the space is completed by a children’s nook with toy kitchen, desks for ALIVE! employees, and a conference room. ALIVE! already has ideas to open another food hub in the Arlandria neighborhood.

a stack of cubbies and filing cabinets in front of a green wall
The back end of the food hub is home to offices with filing cabinets and conference room. (Photo Grace Billups Arnold)

Hebert concludes, “Our goal is to serve our neighbors, and this is really an important hub not only for ALIVE but for the west end. The people here that we’ve been serving for a lot of years really need this place. They know they can come here and get food to put on their tables.”

a banner in a window which reads Neighbors Helping Neighbors, www.alive-inc.org
The new ALIVE! Food Hub is officially open at 510-F S. Van Dorn St. (Photo Grace Billups Arnold)

The 510-F S. Van Dorn St. ALIVE! food hub is open Tuesday through Saturday, and their food drop-offs are scheduled on their website. For more information, visit alive-inc.org.

See more at: https://thezebra.org/2022/05/26/alive-opens-new-food-hub-at-van-dorn-station-in-the-west-end/