DeMarc A Hickson — Photo: Todd Franson
After 30 years of serving D.C.’s black LGBTQ community and people living with HIV, Us Helping Us, People Into Living, Inc. is celebrating the milestone with a different kind of annual gala.
“This year’s celebration is going to be more of a chic ‘after-5’ cocktail hour event, versus a sit-down gala with a plated meal,” says DeMarc Hickson, the organization’s executive director. “We want to highlight and share the history of Us Helping Us over the past 30 years, and just have people mingling and networking and having conversations.
“We will also have a live band and opportunities for dancing. We want to make it a festive event.”
Hickson says the organization will hold a silent auction where 30 pieces of artwork, representing three decades of service to the D.C. community, will be sold to the highest bidder, with proceeds benefiting UHU.
A portion of the night’s program will take a more serious or somber tone, honoring individuals and organizations (yet to be named publicly) who have contributed to the fight against HIV or have undertaken efforts to promote holistic health.
“We’ll have a release of lanterns for those that are no longer with us, who died because of HIV or AIDS,” adds Hickson. “We will also be launching our room-naming campaign. We’re renovating both of our office locations, and as part of a development fundraising opportunity, if you give a certain level, you can have the room named after you or a loved one for that year.”
In addition to its regular programming and testing resources, UHU has seen the number of services it offer expand. Earlier this year, staff at both its Maryland and D.C. locations began prescribing pre-exposure prophylaxis for people at higher risk of contracting HIV, and later, in May of this years, the organization will start offering comprehensive health screenings to clients.
“We’ll be screening for a variety of chronic conditions,” says Hickson. “You’ll have your height and weight taken, your blood pressure measurements, your heart rate, kidney and liver functions, and metabolic panel, including screening for diabetes, high cholesterol, and high triglycerides. We’re interested in promoting the health and wellness of the whole person.”
Us Helping Us’s annual gala, “A Passion for Living, A Celebratory Night of Giving” is Tuesday, April 2, from 6:30-9:30 p.m. at City Winery, 1350 Okie St. NE. Tickets are $150 per person and can be purchased via eventbrite.com. Visit www.ushelpingus.org.