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Virginia Beach church hosts Juneteenth celebration event, health fair

The church’s Senior Pastor Eugene Cowan said celebrating Juneteenth is about celebrating community.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Juneteenth is about freedom, and there are a lot of ways to celebrate this weekend!

Over in Virginia Beach’s Woodhaven neighborhood, New Light Full Gospel Baptist Church hosted its second annual “Juneteenth Day” on Saturday. It's a big health awareness fair complete with free COVID vaccines and food pantry giveaways. 

Event organizers say it’s about giving back to the community and raising awareness about Juneteenth. 

“It is a holiday that really hasn’t been really recognized,” said Tanja Mayfield, president of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Lambda Gamma Omega Chapter. “We can’t forget about the past, because our past helps us move better into our future.” 

Several vendors set up tents offering information on things like housing and healthcare. Vinson Wilson of the church’s community outreach and development board said there is also a food pantry. 

“We have partnered with the food bank, so we’re also giving out food,” Wilson said.

 And a health fair wouldn’t be complete without free COVID vaccines and boosters.  

 Dr. Adrien Dews, a physician and Deacon and New Light Baptist Church noted: “We are partnering with the Virginia Department of Health to do vaccinations today," said Dr. Adrien Dews, a physician and deacon at the church. 

The church’s Senior Pastor Eugene Cowan said celebrating Juneteenth is about celebrating community. 

He said the church has hosted vaccine clinics before.

“We’re almost at 1,000 shots from just this location,” Cowan said.

 “The church has a symbiotic relationship with the community that it’s in. One thing I share with New Light is that we are the light, we are the shine in the community to let the community know that we’re here for them.” 

The Virginia Beach Pearls Foundation also helped sponsor the event. The group’s President Jacqueline Rhodes said community outreach is a big part of what her team does.  

“This is just another way to reach out and make sure people are aware of what’s going on with themselves and their community and also to give back,” Rhodes said.

This is the second year the church has hosted the event. 

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