“We’ve served clients who live east of the river since the beginning of Whitman-Walker,” says Josh Riley, director of community commitment at Whitman-Walker Health. “In the early ’90s, we began providing services at sites east of the Anacostia. We know we have more work to do to expand and invest in Ward 8. So each year, we hold the East of the River Fall Fest, which is a neighborhood gathering, block party, back-to-school drive, health fair, and more.”
Now in its third year, Fall Fest, held outside the Max Robinson Center in Southeast D.C., features a youth poetry slam, go-go music by The Dynamic Duo featuring Sirius Company, and food courtesy of Caribbean Citations.
The event also serves as a back-to-school drive, with organizers distributing 200 backpacks filled with school supplies to neighborhood children.
This year’s Fall Fest highlights the opening of Whitman-Walker’s newest pharmacy later this year in the townhouse next to the Max Robinson Center.
Both buildings will receive painted murals from the No Kings Collective, which designed the artwork on the side of the center’s newly renovated Elizabeth Taylor building on 14th Street NW.
Whitman-Walker health educators will be on site to provide information about their various services, including HIV testing (which will be offered via their mobile testing unit), PrEP, and the center’s medication-assisted substance abuse treatment for opioid abuse.
Those wishing to donate school supplies can drop them off at Whitman-Walker’s various sites, or can donate money through the center’s website by visiting whitman-walker.org/give and typing “East of the River Fall Fest” in the description.
“Our Fall Fest is really just a community gathering, a way to thank folks, bring them together with people from the community,” says Riley. “With all of the work we’ve done on 14th Street NW, we know our focus needs to be on communities east of the river. It is clear to us, from the board’s work, that east of the river will be a large part of Whitman-Walker’s identity.”
Whitman-Walker Health’s East of the River Fall Fest is Friday, Aug. 10, from 3-7 p.m. in the parking lot of the Max Robinson Center, 2301 Martin Luther King, Jr. Ave. SE. For more information, or to make a donation, visit whitman-walker.org.