January 13, 2020 at 1:56 pm EST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Us Helping Us receives $15,000 donation for food pantry
From left: Steve Emmert, deputy executive director, Us Helping Us; Orrett Thompson, case manager Amerigroup; Linda Elam, CEO & plan president, Amerigroup DC; Gerrard Davis, case manager, Us Helping Us; Charmekia Martin, manager, Medicaid Plan Marketing, Amerigroup DC; DeMarc Hickson, Ph.D., executive director Us Helping Us, and Latricia Hall, business change manager, Amerigroup. (Photo by Shevry Lassiter)

The leader of health insurance and managed care company Amerigroup D.C. on Jan. 10 presented a check for $15,000 for a food pantry operated by the local LGBT health and HIV services organization Us Helping Us.

During a ceremony at the Us Helping Us headquarters at 3636 Georgia Ave., N.W., Amerigroup D.C. CEO and Plan President Linda Elam said her company was honored to provide support for an important community service.

“On behalf of Amerigroup District of Columbia it’s my pleasure to present this check to Us helping Us and its food pantry,” Elam said after giving an enlarged version of the check to Us Helping Us Executive Director DeMarc Hickson.

Hickson said Us Helping Us created the food pantry for both its clients and anyone else in the surrounding community in need in March 2018 using its own funds. Since its start, the food pantry has provided approximately 200 families or individuals with about 10,000 pounds of food, Hickson told the Washington Blade after the ceremony.

The Us Helping Us website says the organization was founded in 1985 as a group of volunteers that provided “holistic health information for people living with AIDS.” Those familiar with the group have said it provided in its early years HIV/AIDS-related services to African-American gay man who often were not getting services they needed through other healthcare providers.

“As it exists today, Us Helping Us is an experienced community-based organization with two locations in the greater Washington, D.C. area, including a certified, freestanding mental health clinic, and works tirelessly to achieve health equity for underserved and marginalized populations in the Washington, D.C. area,” the website says.

Hickson said after the check-presenting ceremony that the Us Helping Us food pantry provides food for its clients regardless of their HIV status as well as for “anybody that is experiencing food shortages or their family does not have enough food — they can come and access the food pantry.”

Elam said Amerigroup D.C. is one of three managed care organizations in D.C. that provides services for people on Medicaid.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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