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Empowering Our City Committee strives to make improvements in Annapolis

Andrea Blackstone | 2/27/2015, 6 a.m.
Along with a group of action-oriented individuals, Octavia Brown is on a mission to make substantial improvements in Annapolis, Maryland. ...
Empowering Our City Committee (EOCC) was founded by Octavia Brown earlier this year. The new community organization to empower citizens of Annapolis, Maryland. (Left to right) Mike Somerville (administrator); Veronica Grant (administrator); Kendall Barnard (co-chair); Octavia Brown (founder and chair); Kirsten Green (administrator); Jacara Davis (administrator); and Wanda Stansbury (advisor). (Photo: Christian Smooth/Smooth House Productions)

Along with a group of action-oriented individuals, Octavia Brown is on a mission to make substantial improvements in Annapolis, Maryland. Brown is the 27-year-old founder and chair of a new Annapolis-based community organization called Empowering Our City Committee (EOCC).

Along with others who have joined her, Brown aspires to help youth, adolescents, low-income and underrepresented populations. The community leader earned a bachelor’s degree in social work from University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She will graduate with a master’s in social work from the University of Maryland, Baltimore in May. Additionally, Brown has experience working with adolescents, domestic violence clients and youth. Her passion to help others extends beyond traditional work hours.

“I have been raised to empower other individuals,” she said. “I was on Facebook one day around the time of the Ferguson decision. There were a lot of people who were hurt. They expressed their outrage behind the race-relations situation. I decided to figure out what we can do to empower our own community. I decided to organize an empowerment meeting for the city on Jan. 22, 2015, so that we could all come together to talk about how we could evoke change.”

After Brown posted a call to action on Facebook, she garnered positive responses from individuals who attended her first meeting. EOCC was created to formally take the next step. The organization’s mission is “to promote positive change within the city of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County through community involvement and unity.”

Kendall Barnard, a 27-year-old job developer, is EOCC’s co-chair. Barnard possesses a diverse human services and health care background. Brown and Barnard are like sisters. The socially conscious pair have known each for most of their lives.

“I've always been about economic development. I believe that in order for everyone to be a success, it boils down to making money, generating money and therefore building your community. You cannot build a community without that revolving dollar,” Barnard said. “We had ideas throughout the years on different nonprofits we could do to give back to our community. This just so happens to have been the one that came into fruition.”

Jacara Davis, Mike Somerville, Veronica Grant, Kirsten Yasa and Wanda Stansbury are also a part of the EOCC movement. The multi-generational group is comprised of seven native Annapolitans. Collectively, they offer valuable skills that will help support EOCC’s mission.

“Each one has something passionate and powerful to bring to the team,” Brown said.

Brown explained that EOCC members desire to connect with others who are willing to take action. Even if prospective volunteers can commit to helping on a short-term basis, pitching in with tasks such as event support or donating space could be useful.

EOCC will host “What’s Next?” Life After a Criminal Conviction on March 21, 2015 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Stanton Center. The first empowerment event will be designed to assist individuals who have criminal convictions in their past. Both Brown and Barnard agreed that the ex-offender population needs more resources to help them to overcome obstacles.