The Coronavirus pandemic has shaken all of us to our core.  These are different times, times of adjustment, times of grief and loss, times of uncertainty but they are also times of opportunities. Perhaps we have not gotten there yet, where we can have perspective because we are still processing and our brains may be focused on the chaos and devastation of it all and how this season personally impacts us. The opportunities that lay ahead as we process what we are experiencing are to self-reflect and evaluate our lives and what changes we would like to make, to be even more compassionate, kind and generous than what we may already be, to forgive and let go, to heal, to grow, and to come together like we never have before.

In the midst of what feels like chaos, it is also important to redirect our brains to the good happening around us. Taking in the good will support our overall wellbeing. We want to be able to hold several ideas and emotions at the same time such as: “times are hard and it makes me feel anxious and today I am okay and that brings me ease.” Now take some time to reflect on your own ideas you would like to hold together.

Something that has brought me hope, encouragement and joy is witnessing the increased level of community support, neighbors coming together and collaboration. This is a time when we realize how interconnected we truly are. What impacts one, impacts us all.

Each Friday, we will spotlight a community partner, organization, neighborhood or individual going above and beyond to help community members during the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Today, I am am so happy to spotlight El Tamarindo restaurant in DC, an exquisite authentic Salvadoran and Mexican restaurant and a jewel in our Adams Morgan neighborhood, which holds a special place in my heart. I am pretty sure everyone who lives in DC knows about El Tamarindo, and if you don’t this should be one of your first stops when restaurants in DC open again.

I have been going to El Tamarindo on a more than regularly basis (sometimes for lunch, dinner all in one day and with a takeout bag too 🙂 since 2006 when I moved to Washington, DC. For many of us El Tamarindo is more than a restaurant; its a homey hub where we meet with loved ones, do business, bring people together, organize community meetings. And the staff is family.

I have so many fond memories of my times with friends there, events that colleagues, and I have held at El Tamarindo where many dreams and ideas have been fostered. Like when at times my graduate program’s Social Justice Committee held our meetings there, like when colleagues and I hosted a diverse coalition of youth leaders from DC and Maryland there so youth could learn about food from different cultures, like the many meetings I have had there as part of Social Workers United for Immigration, and the list goes on. When people ask me, whats an authentic Latino restaurant to take someone to in DC, El Tamarindo is usually the first recommendation. One of my brothers and his now wife held their first date there.

What I love about El Tamarindo the most is that is family operated and rich in history. Founded by Mr. Jose Reyes and Mrs. Betty Reyes in the 80’s, when the Salvadoran community started to flee the civil war in El Salvador and began to settle in Washington, DC area, when El Tamarindo opened its door it became one of the first authentic Salvadoran-Mexican restaurants in DC. And Mr. and Mrs. Reyes’ legacy continues through the leadership of their daughter Ana Reyes, an entrepreneur and community leader that has become a role model for many of us.

El Tamarindo is one of the many local business impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic.  On March 17, they made a difficult decision to close its doors due to the pandemic to keep the El Tamarindo team safe.

To help its staff and their families, El Tamarindo is organizing a GoFund Me campaign.

If you are able to, please donate any amount you can to support El Tamarindo and its staff. Click here to make a contribution. And when El Tamarindo opens its doors again, make sure you stop by, you won’t regret it…..and make sure you try their delicious pupusas, my favorites are the mixed (pork and cheese) ones.

May you be safe and healthy!

Cheryl Aguilar is founding director and therapist at Hope Center for Wellness

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