First Lady of the United States Dr. Jill Biden and Dr. Anthony Fauci Visit Choose Healthy Life COVID-19 Vaccination Event

Jun 10, 2021

First Lady of the United States Dr. Jill Biden and Dr. Anthony Fauci Visit Choose Healthy Life COVID-19 Vaccination Event at Historic Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem

The Vaccination Event Tour Was Hosted by Rev. Calvin O. Butts III, Pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church, Who Co-Chairs Choose Healthy Life’s National Black Clergy Health Leadership Council with Rev. Al Sharpton, Founder of National Action Network, and Debra Fraser-Howze, Founder, Choose Healthy Life

Choose Healthy Life, with lead implementation partner United Way of New York City, is hosting this event as a part of the White House’s National Month of Action to get as many Americans vaccinated as possible by July 4th

NEW YORK – June 6, 2021: First Lady of the United States Dr. Jill Biden and Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House Chief Medical Advisor to the President and Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, visited a Choose Healthy Life COVID-19 vaccination event held today at Abyssinian Baptist Church (Harlem, NY). Rev. Calvin O. Butts III, Senior Pastor of The Abyssinian Baptist Church and co-chair of Choose Healthy Life’s National Black Clergy Health Leadership Council hosted the event and was joined by Choose Healthy Life founder Debra Fraser-Howze and United Way of New York City President & CEO Sheena Wright.

Choose Healthy Life is a Black church initiative that ensures churches – the oldest and most trusted institutions in the Black community – receive the necessary resources, training, and support to address COVID-19 and other health disparities by making available health services to the community. Co-Chaired by Rev. Butts and Rev. Al Sharpton (National Action Network), Choose Healthy Life is supporting 50 Black churches across New York, Detroit, Atlanta, Newark and Washington D.C., to make COVID-19 testing and vaccinations available to underserved and hard-to-reach communities through United Way of New York City and participating United Ways across the country.

“We want everyone 12 and over to come get vaccinated, so we need to get the word out,” said Dr. Jill Biden, First Lady of the United States. “People in this community trust this church and they trust the people in the church… We need the faith community to reach out to their congregations so that they come forward and be vaccinated.”

“This is a historic place that I’ve known since I was a child, being a New Yorker myself,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci. “We’re going to end this outbreak, we’re absolutely certain, and the vehicle to ending this is vaccination, and that’s what’s going on right here.”

Since its launch on Martin Luther King Jr. Day earlier this year (January 18th), Choose Healthy Life has funded 50 Black churches across five major cities (New York, Newark, Detroit, Atlanta and Washington, DC). Within each church is a full-time public health navigator trained and charged with providing greater access to COVID-19 testing and vaccinations in the immediate short-term while addressing health disparities in the long term.

Over the first 90 days after the launch, Choose Healthy Life reached and engaged over 600,000 individuals, held over 130 vaccination and testing events, and administered over 30,000 vaccines to residents in hard-to-reach communities. At the Abyssinian Baptist Church, vaccination clinics are held Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and over the past two months alone, 40 vaccination events were held and approximately 5,500 vaccines administered.

“Black faith leaders have always stepped up in our communities during times of crisis, and right now is no different,” said Rev. Calvin Butts, pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church. “Choose Healthy Life is where faith and science come together to make a difference in our community. I want to thank Dr. Biden and Dr. Fauci for coming out today to support our efforts getting our nation’s most vulnerable and hard-to-reach individuals vaccinated.”

“There is still much work to be done to get Black communities vaccinated and I spoke to President Biden about it in Tulsa last week and we are supportive of the work the Administration is doing,” said Rev. Al Sharpton, founder of the National Action Network and Co-Chair of Choose Healthy Life. “Distrust of the healthcare system runs deep in our communities and it is critical that trusted public figures like Dr. Fauci and Dr. Biden step up to raise confidence in the vaccine process.” Representing Rev. Al Sharpton because he was on his national television show was his daughter Ashley Sharpton, founder of NAN Youth Huddle which is encouraging young people to get vaccinated.

“The Black church has always been and continues to be a trusted messenger in the Black community,” said Debra Fraser-Howze, CEO of Choose Healthy Life and an advisor to two U.S. Presidents on HIV and AIDS. The successful model behind Choose Healthy Life was initially created and developed by Fraser-Howze to successfully combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Black community in the 1990s. “It is an honor to stand alongside Dr. Biden and Dr. Fauci as they step forward with our nation’s leading Black clergy to address vaccine hesitancy and increase access not only in the Black community, but in all communities.”

“Fighting health disparities faced by communities of color is at the core of the work of United Way of New York City and Choose Healthy Life,” said Sheena Wright, president and CEO of United Way of New York City. “We are proud to stand with Dr. Biden and Dr. Fauci to encourage vaccine access in the Black community and neighborhoods across the country.”

To learn more about Choose Healthy Life, please click here.

For general media queries for United Way of New York City and Choose Healthy Life, please contact Anne Smith at [email protected] or (917) 751-4839.

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About United Way of New York City

United Way of New York City (UWNYC) fights for the self-sufficiency of every low-income New Yorker by taking on the toughest challenges and creating new solutions to old problems. We win by helping families shift from barely surviving to thriving. We unite by mobilizing the best ideas, relevant data, internal and external experts, and resources—from money to manpower. UWNYC maximizes impact by coordinating and aligning organizations, companies, local government, and New Yorkers to help families eliminate tough choices and live better while making ends meet. To learn more, visit:

About Choose Healthy Life

Choose Healthy Life is a program developed by D. Fraser Associates (DFA) based on the DFA Choose Healthy Life Standard – a sustainable, scalable, and transferable approach to address public health disparities and inequities in the Black community. The highly successful Standard was created by Debra Fraser-Howze, principal at DFA and founder of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS to address the AIDS epidemic. It is centered around the Black church – the oldest and most trusted institutions in the Black community. Partnering with United Way of New York City and affiliated local United Way agencies, local health departments, and community health organizations, churches receive the necessary resources, training and support to make available health services to the region’s most vulnerable individuals. Choose Healthy Life established the National Black Clergy Health Leadership Council, co-chaired by Rev. Al Sharpton (National Action Network) and Rev. Calvin O. Butts III (Abyssinian Baptist Church, NYC). The Council includes city clergy leaders Rev. Jacques DeGraff (Canaan Baptist Church of Christ, New York, N.Y.); Rev. David Jefferson (Metropolitan Baptist Church, Newark, N.J.); Rev. Horace Sheffield (New Destiny Christian Fellowship, Detroit, Mich.); Rev. Frank Tucker (First Baptist Church, Washington D.C.); and U.S. Senator Rev. Raphael Warnock (Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta, Ga.). Choose Healthy Life has been made possible through the support of founding partner Quest Diagnostics, the Quest Diagnostics Foundation, and from Resolve to Save Lives, a global health initiative focused on helping advance scalable, proven strategies to prevent and address epidemics. To learn more visit