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‘Solutions and boss moves are being made here’: Black nonprofit helping southside community of Annapolis

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Posted at 10:09 PM, Jun 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-29 23:18:41-04

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Some may know the Eastport and Harbour House neighborhood of Annapolis for its crime, but there are those in the community who are working to change the narrative.

Here are the community’s change-makers. 

“These are my people,” Lovell Offer said. “They people are my family.” 

Sitting behind a desk in a former Annapolis Police Substation, Lovell talks about his work.  

“I’ve been doing this since the beginning,” he said, “even before this was a nonprofit.” 

The colorful muraled walls read: ‘The Wellness Resource Center.’ 

Sitting in on the interview is Heaven White, a community advocate. 

“Sticking together goes back to our ancestry,” said White. “The narrative of this place has changed. We’ve got to stop mentioning Eastport [and Harbor House} when we talk about the violence and the poverty that comes from it. Solutions and boss moves are being made here. I love it.” 

WMAR-2 News met up with "Small City Big Changes" on property that once served as Naval housing. It’s now public housing. 

“We’ve done so much stuff here,” said Lovell. 

Lovell and his team are working every day to improve the lives of their community. 

“We’ve had Easter egg hunts,” he said. “We’ve helped a lot of people I can’t even think of how many. The numbers probably, on jobs alone, 200.” 

Lovell has a growing list of contacts in his phone who he’s helped get jobs. But job placement is just one of the resources offered. There’s also drug rehab clinic referrals, mentorship and more. 

“If we don’t have room in our pantry, all our donations go to Miss Donna,” said Lovell. “Shes like a neighborhood mother.” 

On the walk over to Miss Donna’s, Lovell showed WMAR-2 News community posters. They’re up in every building. 

“We put it in your face, every day,” he said “You can’t say you need a job because it’s right there, in your face, every day.” 

The jobs listed range from housekeeping to CDL drivers and more. The posters even list the hourly pay rate. 

“We’re here to help,” said Lovell. 

And so is Donna Johnson. 

“I started my food pantry a couple of years go,” she said.  

Run out of her house she provides all sorts of meals. From non-perishables to sack lunches, it’s all available for people in need. 

“It doesn’t matter who you are,” she said. “We all need help.” 

Her pantry has grown to include clothing and toiletries and more. She recently acquired space in the building storage area. It offers people clothing, sneakers, household items and more.

“No one should ever go hungry,” said Johnson. “No one should ever have to go without clothing, you know? I think this is a big deal right here because I get lots of brand-new things every day. Everything is totally free. Two days out of the month, on Sundays I do a free dinner outside."

"Small City Big Dreams" and its partners are growing.

Now an official nonprofit, it’s working to show the City of Annapolis, as well as the county, that its efforts have been around well before achieving its 501c3 status.  

“I’m from the community,” said Lovell. “I know the community. Everybody can turn their life around and it takes a community to save the community. I’m also saying so we need help from the older and younger people in the community. We as a community stick together, we can show people that we are capable of taking care of ourselves.”

For more information on resources and work being done by "Small City Big Dreams" visit its Facebook page