Metro Weekly

Cherry Fund Bears Fruit for Local Organizations

Organization to award $12,000 to five local organizations with HIV/AIDS service and prevention programs

A scene at Town Danceboutique at Cherry 2014 (Photo credit: Ward Morrison).

The Cherry Fund, the local not-for-profit all-volunteer organization that holds charity dance events to raise funds for HIV/AIDS service organizations, will host a beneficiary reception on July 15 at Cobalt to award grants to five local service organizations that are involved in testing, treating or preventing HIV.

At the reception, the Cherry Fund will award $12,000 in total, with varying amounts to each organization. Inova Juniper HIV Services will receive $5,000; the Wanda Alston House will receive $3,500; Capital Pride will receive $1,500; and Us Helping Us and Advocates for Youth will each receive $1,000. The reception will also feature music by DJ Shawn Morris, light refreshments, and hors d’oeuvres.

Since its incorporation in 1997, the Cherry Fund has provided more than $1 million in grants, 90 percent of which comes directly from individual ticket sales for its dance events. Financial support is also provided in the form of contributions or sponsorships by national and D.C.-area businesses.

“The opportunity to mobilize supporters in a fun way that benefits such worthy organizations is at the heart of what we do,” Allen Sexton, chair of the Cherry Fund’s board, said in a statement. “We look forward to many more years of celebration and community.” 

The annual Cherry event, which consists of several dance parties over a weekend, is held every April and draws DJs from club scenes across the world. Cherry also recently hosted the “afterhours” event for Capital Pride at Tropicalia in June. Next year’s event, Cherry 2015, is scheduled for April 10-12.

James Decker, secretary of the Cherry Fund, notes that Cherry is one of the few all-volunteer organizations around and one of the longest-running events of its kind in the nation, having weathered the financial collapse of 2008, unlike some of its fellow brethren. These days, Decker says, a lot of for-profit entities, such as party boats, have stepped into the fray to compete with the all-volunteer festivals.

“What sets us apart is our relationships with national and international partners,” Decker says. “We cross-promote, we share DJs. … We have a saying, ‘If there wasn’t a Cherry, we’d have to invent it.’”

The Cherry Fund’s beneficiary reception will be held on July 15 at Cobalt, 1639 R St. NW, from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. For more information, visit

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