Metro Weekly

Whitman-Walker to celebrate 43rd anniversary with virtual dance party

Dance party, held via Zoom, will be hosted by influence SolLikeSoul, with music by DJ Alex Love

Photo courtesy of Whitman-Walker Health.

Whitman-Walker Health, the federally-qualified community health center that specializes in LGBTQ-competent and HIV-related care, will host a virtual dance party on Zoom to celebrate its 43rd anniversary.

Jewel Addy, the director of communications for Whitman-Walker Health, told Metro Weekly that the anniversary celebration is being held virtually due to COVID-19 and a lack of venues where people can safely socially distance. 

The 90-minute dance party, co-hosted by the Wanda Alston Foundation and Tagg Magazine, kicks off at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 13. Alex Love will deejay and the event will be hosted by local influencer SolLikeSoul.

“We’ve had a long, wonderful relationship with Alex, who was the DJ at our last holiday party. She has also deejayed our Pride Women’s Kickoff Celebration Party over the last couple of years,” Addy says.

SolLikeSoul and Alex Love have also been involved in the B.A.G.G. Series, a Whitman-Walker program that deals with sexual health topics and seeks to educate the public about sexual health resources available to them, including services offered by Whitman-Walker Health.

“It’ll just be dancing, light talking, and good music. We wanted to keep it really simple and just have a space for folks to help us ring in our birthday,” Addy says. “The party also serves as the official after-party for the Wanda Alston Foundation virtual fundraiser being held earlier that evening. So they’ll be inviting their folks to wind down from all the fundraising and just dance at this birthday party.”

“For me, birthdays and anniversaries are about celebrating with the people in our lives. Such milestones offer cherished time to be those who love and support us along the way,” Don Blanchon, the CEO of Whitman-Walker Health System, said in a statement. “And during this time of COVID, I can think of no better way to celebrate than to be with the very community that loves and supports Whitman-Walker.”

See also: Healthy Outlook: A Q&A with Whitman-Walker Health CEO Naseema Shafi

“Edging into our ‘mid-40s’ means that we are clear-eyed about our dedication to the essential reason we exist — too many people do not feel seen or cared for in healthcare settings,” Nassema Shafi, the CEO of Whitman-Walker Health, the clinical side of the health center, said in a statement. “We responded to the best of our ability each phase of this COVID pandemic. Our staff have continuously adapted our services based on moment-to-moment assessments of COVID’s impact on our patients and community input. That — listening to our patients and community — has been a North Star for all these decades.”

Shafi also expressed hope for Whitman-Walker’s future plans as it moves beyond the pandemic and seeks to expand its health care services.

“I am personally so grateful for the journey thus far and the continued opportunity to lead Whitman-Walker Health,” she added. “And I know I speak for everyone here when I say that we are all looking forward to expanding our services in Congress Heights when we open our new site on the old Saint Elizabeth’s campus in 2023.”

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