Annapolis March underscores importance of showing up at polls, correction of racial injustices

Although the coronavirus has often brought the issue of isolation to the forefront because of need to social distance and quarantine, there have also been remarkable moments when the power of unity has proved to be unstoppable.

Saturday, September 19, 2020 marked one of those unprecedented times in Annapolis’s rich history, when over a 1,000 men, women, children, community leaders and elected officials participated in a peaceful 1,000 Men March. A sea of masked faces began to fill the streets from Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium to Annapolis City Dock. Participants commemorated the 25th anniversary of the Million Man March held in the District of Columbia on October 16, 1995, while highlighting issues ranging from ending police brutality to the importance of voting in the upcoming presidential election on November 3, 2020.

The event drew a crowd of diverse ages, including young children. Over 1,000 people reportedly attended the event.

Joyce Images

The event drew a crowd of diverse ages, including young children. Over 1,000 people reportedly attended the event.

Randy Curtis, 33, a resident of Severn played a major role in organizing the largest event of this kind in Annapolis. His father, Bishop Antonio Palmer of the Kingdom Celebration Center and the United Black Clergy along with Carl Snowden, longtime civil rights activist and convener of the Caucus of African American Leaders, were also instrumental in organizing the event.

Curtis says he has worked with conscious leaders in other locations and wanted to do something for his home city of Annapolis. Holding police and citizens who are engaging in detrimental activities accountable, cleaning up the community, improving housing and addressing educational issues are among his noted concerns. He further said that related policies and procedures need to be changed; and he feels that officials such as Gavin Buckley, Mayor of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman are approachable officials who also want to see positive change occur in the Black community. “My idea is to go to them (Buckley and Pittman) with strategic changes for policies and procedures, and fight all the way through, until we see change in the books,” said Curtis while mentioning his follow up plan. “And, I’ve learned enough to be humble to my elders. I’m actually having a meeting with all of the leadership that we have in the Black community and saying ‘let’s agree on three things that we want to see change in the immediate future and tackle those three issues up front.’”

Curtis led the charge to bring individuals and leaders together but he says he wants a collective voice to be heard. He added that he believes that participation by the younger generation in the event helped to dismantle the belief that the older and younger generation don’t see eye-to-eye on issues. The older generation was able to show by example how to come together for the sake of freedom, justice and equality for Blacks in America, including in Anne Arundel County.

Carl Snowden also pointed out that he believes that Curtis senses the need for more overall civic engagement and participation from African American males. “The major goal (of the march) was to demonstrate the need for people of color— in particular— to participate in another march that is going to take place. And that march is going to take place on November 3, when we march to the ballot box, hopefully in unprecedented numbers, to use our vote to become our voice. And so there is going to be a concerted effort by all of the organizations that were involved to energize, organize and mobilize African American voters to go to the polls in great numbers,” Snowden said. “As you know, African American men vote in less numbers than African American women. An idea here is to get African American men to follow the leadership of women who have used the vote very strategically to bring about our change. And so we hope to emulate our black women in terms of going to the polls in the numbers proportionate to our goal.”

Darius A. Stanton— founder of the Annapolis Arts, Sports and Leadership Academy— added that day’s mood sent a message of unity to over 10 statewide politicians. Voter registration was underway from the top of the March route all the way to the City Dock.

“I think the 1,000 Man March built a unified force to push the changes needed in our own communities to seek mental health, bring our family units together, to ensure we build our own economic base, make the needed reform and investments in education and the justice system, by voting and holding elected officials accountable,” said Stanton. “We are much stronger coming out of the march!

Nonprofit leaders provide Chromebooks for students locally, nationally

After a new academic year began for students across the U.S., amid the corona virus pandemic, virtual learning in school districts presented challenges which ranged from lack of broadband connections and system outages to Chromebook shortages. One Virginia resident and nonprofit leader has been saving the day for families who were still in need of devices for online learning. Gerald Moore Sr., founder of Mission Fulfilled 2030, has been hitting the road to deliver technological gifts to help students who still do not have them. Although Moore’s primary nonprofit mission is to inspire, educate and activate 100,000 black boys in technology by 2030, he is currently serving a wide student population.

“When the pandemic first hit, and schools shut down in March, we were able to pivot from our live offerings and partner with the (Gerald Moore Online) Technology School for Black Boys and launch a successful online computer science program. This actually presented some challenges as we began to get feedback from parents in disadvantaged and underserved communities that they did not have the necessary equipment to participate,” Moore said. “Therefore, I began to think about ways that we could create a program to address this need as a future offering of Mission Fulfilled 2030. My thinking was to create a technology fund to support families and kids in need.” Moore’s timing was impeccable. When a second grade teacher working in Baltimore City contacted Moore, after being referred to him by one of his colleagues, he was able to lend a technological hand.

“I knew at that moment I needed to act swiftly to help these children and families. Therefore, I purchased 10 Chromebooks for the students in Mrs. Payne’s class,” Moore said. “Once I engaged those students, I realized that I needed to step it up and I created the “Chromebooks for Kids Tech Fund Challenge” fundraiser.”

Trivia Payne, a first year teacher who works at Sinclair Lane Elementary School, teaches 100 percent virtually, roughly six hours daily. The educator remarked that on the first day of school, she received calls about students not having a working laptop, or for some, no laptop at all at home.

Trivia Payne sits alongside Chrome- books that were provided for ten of her students who needed them.

Courtesy Photo

Trivia Payne sits alongside Chrome- books that were provided for ten of her students who needed them.

“At the time there were at least 10 of my students out of 21 who did not have an appropriate device,” Payne said. “We received 10 Chromebooks, and our young guys received a signed copy of Mr. Moore’s book. All of the students received a gift bag with some other fun items. His (Moore’s) plan is to deliver printers and headphones to the students who received laptops.”

Payne explained that her students had excellent attendance, but the Chromebook gifts removed their challenge of not logging on properly, due to not having appropriate equipment.

Although Moore plans to return to Sinclair Lane Elementary School, the expanding national need for tools to participate in distance learning also led him to serve students beyond Baltimore. Students who reside in the District of Columbia, Prince George’s County and Texas have benefited from Moore’s “Chromebooks for Kids Tech Fund Challenge” fundraiser. After Moore provided the first ten chromebooks, he challenged his network. A federal government contractor was the first company to answer Moore’s call to action.

“Semper Valens Solutions is proud to support this very important and crucial mission. Being able to help bridge the technology gap in underserved communities at a time where so many students do not have access to technology, is critical for the success of virtual schooling. As we deal with unprecedented times, we all need to come together to support our communities in any way that we can,” a statement on the company’s website said. “The Chromebooks For Kids initiative is a great step in showing that support.”

To date, Moore’s nonprofit reportedly raised a little over $13,000 for this cause and has served 20 children in need. A second company recently matched Moore’s donation of 10 Chromebooks. Funding is still needed to support the initial challenge of serving 100 youth and additional students. “The cost to do this is approximately $35,000, but considering the need, this will be a program that we will continue to run as a goal of Mission Fulfilled 2030 to equip kids in need.” Moore said. “Therefore, we will continue to run this fundraiser year-round.”

Gerald Moore Sr., right, speaks to a student about scholastic achievement, after giving a Chromebook and gifts to him.

Courtesy Photo

Gerald Moore Sr., right, speaks to a student about scholastic achievement, after giving a Chromebook and gifts to him.

To participate in the fundraiser, please visit and click the donate button. Families in need with students in the U.S. who are in grades K-12 may apply for Chromebooks via a case for support form via

Morgan State University star athlete leaves legacy of talent and determination

Jordan Alexander Cofield possessed all of the critical attributes of a rising star. He was multitalented, courageous, intellectually and athletically gifted, and was also known for his unforgettable smile. Cofield 20, died in a motorcycle accident on August 22, 2020.

His mother, Dr. Chere M. Goode, recounted sweet memories of her baby boy who was born at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore City, as she choked back tears. Missing her child is still a fresh wound and the realization that she will never see more of her son’s dreams come to fruition is truly devastating.

Jordan was entering his junior year at Morgan State University (MSU) as a double business major who earned a reputation of shining on and off the football field. The football team’s wide receiver was also a track and field team member. He loved dressing in high-end attire, shopping and hanging out with friends and family, and of course football.

“Football was the love of his life,” Goode said. “Well, he was on full-ride scholarship to Morgan, so he saved me a lot of money. I didn’t pay anything for his education, and he actually was on the Dean’s List at Morgan State. If you know anything about two-time athletes, and being on the Dean’s list, that’s like huge. He (Jordan) actually was an NFL (National Football League) prospect. They were looking at him already, although he was only a junior. They actually released a statement about him, saying that although he was small in stature… his speed was amazing. He was a speedster.”a Goode spoke proudly about her charming son who placed number one in 2019 in the men’s 60-yard dash out, of all Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Goode added that whatever her son was determined to do, he was going to do it. The graduate of New Town High School, located in Owings Mills, became a football buff at eight years old. His family was proud of their star athlete who loved to blow kisses to his fans, whenever he made a touchdown. His mother says that she will probably miss capturing those moments on video the most. Jordan inherited the love of football from his parents. His father, Jeffrey Cofield was a part of the trio’s Dallas Cowboy fan club.

Jordan earned his own fan club. One of Goode’s favorite memories was the time when Ernest Jones, a former coach at MSU, came to their home in an effort to draft her son. Goode said that he informed them that he was not leaving without Cofield.

“That just made me so proud, like wow, my son’s dreams are coming into reality. Now he just smiled and said, ‘Mom, what am I going to do?’ I just said, ‘that’s up to you. You’re the one who has to put in the work,’” Goode said. “Jordan is really like the first one, especially from his father’s family and everything, to really go to a university, so everybody was really proud of him that he took his education seriously.” Dr. Cheryl Wood, Goode’s twin sister and Jordan’s aunt is also navigating through the loss of their family’s star.

“Our slogan for him and everything for the funeral was, ‘Everything he touched turned to gold,’” Wood said. “I loved his tenacity. He was a go-getter. I mean just to see somebody set something [in] their mind, and you already know, nothing is going to stop them. That’s who Jordan was.” Wood recounted a comical yet telling story. Her husband, James Wood, once remarked to a very young Jordan that he didn’t know his numbers beyond a certain point. He shocked his uncle, when he informed him that he did know them. The child rattled off his numbers way beyond the point at which he was challenged.

“To me, it’s a reminder of how smart he was academically,” Wood said. “And you know he was going to go far, because he was always like— ‘I’ll show you, not tell you.’”

Layers of loss accompany great disappointment. Jordan’s loved ones will never see him get married, have children or earn an expected NFL contract. However, Wood identified ways the community can support Jordan’s family. Praying for their strength is one; keeping Jordan’s memory alive is another.

“Don’t stop talking about him and his legacy in 20 short years,” Wood said. “I would just say if you want [something], go get it. Just don’t let anything stop you. And that’s what I would say was his mindset and his attitude.”

To support his mother and enable her some time off work during this time of bereavement, donations can be made via Cash App to $cheremgoode or Pay Pal via

HBCU alumnus commits to run online technology school for Black boys full time

Many educators and parents located in a wide array of school districts are scrambling to figure out how to maintain student achievement, while youth learn online from home beginning in September due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Proactive parents have been searching for enrichment opportunities to help fill in learning gaps. One example of an established resource can be found in a STEM (Science, Technology, Education and Math) Education Advocate who is on a journey to empower Black boys.


Courtesy Photo


Gerald A. Moore, Sr. is the founder/CEO of the nonprofit, Mission Fulfilled 2030, which is committed to impacting 100,000 Black boys in a variety of technologies by 2030. This fall, the Norfolk State University alumnus will roll out an improved online platform, through The Gerald Moore Technology School for Black Boys where course offerings include: Coding; Web Design; App Development; Basic Electricity; Automotive Technology; Google Docs; and Technology Entrepreneurship. Examples of winter offerings include launching an IT (Information Technology) Fundamentals course, in partnership with CompTIA, which is the world’s leading technology association.

“[On] August 6, 2020, I resigned from my six-figure job (working as a cyber security engineer) to pursue my passion to work for the betterment of Black boys to rebuild the Black family. In order to bring into fruition the type of change I want to see for young Black males, I needed to truly embrace the vision of Mission Fulfilled 2030,” Moore said. “Considering that Black male representation in the Cyber Security field is really low, I needed to make an even bolder decision to leave something I love, for something I love more, and create that next generation pipeline of Black, male Cyber Security Engineers and IT (Information Technology) professionals.” The multi-talented Northern Virginia resident is also a father, newlywed and author of the Amazon best-selling book, “Motivate Black Boys – How to Prepare for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.”

The fee to enroll in The Gerald Moore Technology School for Black Boys is $29.99 per month. An introduction to computer science class is available to anyone free of charge.

When COVID-19 arrived, Moore decided to merge the technology school with the nonprofit and offer a free, online Computer Science Program for Black Boys. After three years of STEM mentoring, over 200 Black boys have participated in Moore’s school. The “socialpreneur” says there is nothing more rewarding than watching a boy’s eyes light up, when the student has a breakthrough in figuring something out, or a boy realizes that he can be successful.

Jordan Hennighan, 12, is one example of a student who has benefited fromMoore’s innovative approach to Black male mentoring.

“My favorite courses were ‘How Computers Work ‘ and ‘Basic Game Programming,’ because they allowed me to expand my knowledge, and gave me a different mindset on what I want to do when I get older. I also liked these two because they were very interesting and fun to learn about when we got to code and fix code,” Jordan said. “When I grow up I want to be able to code computers, build them and fix them. Also, I want to start my own coding business when I’m able to do that, to be able to make money and give computers to others that may not have a lot.”

Moore says that the Young Tech Entrepreneurs Course is a fan favorite. Boys ages eight to 17 are taught how to use free open source tools to conceptualize, design and build a working prototype. An Instagram style web/mobile app is one project example. Participants are also taught how to market, gain users and monetize it. Additionally, Moore wants to connect Black boys who are interested in STEM with 10,000 Black technology mentors. Professor Willie Sanders, Jr. is the founder and executive director of Baltimore-based Pass IT On who recently joined Moore to positively impact additional Black boys. Pass IT On’s similar mission is to help close the technology skills gap experience by youth and adults from disadvantaged backgrounds. Sanders and Moore realize that there is an urgent need to reach out to young, Black boys with a life-changing opportunity that gaining 21st century technical skill can provide.

“In D.C. and Baltimore, we lose too many of our young men of color to drugs and violence,” Sanders said. “We want these young boys to know there is a better way that can lead to a brighter future.”

To enroll Black boys in the online school or to learn more about it or to make a donation to Mission Fulfilled 2030, visit:

Art, activism, conversations merge with police issues in Annapolis

In hopes of dismantling racism for good, protests, walks, events and supportive displays by diverse races are popping up both locally and globally.Demonstrators from all walks of life have been filling public spaces in record numbers to speak up about police brutality; the need for reform; and the pursuit of acquiring justice for George Floyd and other victims who have died at the hands of the police.

June 7, 2020 marked one of those hope-filled days, despite the backdrop of social unrest. Hundreds of people attended a peaceful vigil at Susan Campbell Park, located in downtown Annapolis, to pay homage to George Floyd and others who have lost their lives to racism. Additionally, a mural entitled “Say Their Name” was painted live by local artists utilizing spray paint, permanent markers, and oil-based and acrylic paint to craft a facial representation of Floyd, along with names of other victims who tragically died in police custody.

Comacell Brown paint a mural of George Floyd and others who have lost their lives to police brutality. The mural is located in Susan Campbell Park in downtown Annapolis.

Andrea Blackstone

Comacell Brown paint a mural of George Floyd and others who have lost their lives to police brutality. The mural is located in Susan Campbell Park in downtown Annapolis.

Jeff Huntington; Deonte Ward; and Comacell Brown, Jr. collaborated to complete the project. Additionally, Douglas Day built the wall structure and Jeff Huntington served as the project’s lead artist. Hundreds of onlookers heard from speakers and witnessed art come to life.

  Ward—who specializes in photography and abstract art—also serves as the Youth Program Director for B.L.A.C.K. (Becoming Leaders Acquiring Critical Knowledge) Excel. The Annapolis native says the names painted on the mural were obtained from an online list of police brutality victims. More were added, while Ward listened to speakers at the event. A local shooting involving Cochise Daughtry in 1996 was among them.

  “I didn’t think something like this had happened in Annapolis in recent times. For me it was more eye-opening, and it kind of gave me people to look up, really realizing it was a lot more than I thought it was,” Ward said. “As an artist, part of my message is always to let my voice be heard, whether I’m doing motivational speaking or art, because art is an expressive form of speaking itself. When you get to use different forms of protesting and things like that, again, the list was crucial to me because some people don’t know about those names. Some people may just come to see the painting, but they go there and see a name. Maybe just one name will catch their eye out of the rest of them, and you research that person’s story.”

Ward added that the whole list of individuals who lost their lives to police brutality could not fit on the mural, but each victim should still be cherished and honored. Ward and Brown agree.

Jr, Deonte Ward, and Jeff Huntington paint a mural of George Floyd and others who have lost their lives to police brutality. The mural is located in Susan Campbell Park in downtown Annapolis.

Andrea Blackstone

Jr, Deonte Ward, and Jeff Huntington paint a mural of George Floyd and others who have lost their lives to police brutality. The mural is located in Susan Campbell Park in downtown Annapolis.

Brown is the owner of Cell Spitfire Paintings and Designs, LLC. The full time, freelance artist who runs classes for children, paints murals and volunteers in the community. Brown has been a part of several marches and he says that recently, he has seen white people talking with their children as they walk by the George Floyd mural. He added that honest conversations with youth about history, as well as current events will help to ensure a brighter future for black people.

  “It’s a big shift going on in the world,” Brown said. “I’ve already seen in the 24 hours that it’s (the mural) been up, it has already created great conversation.”

  A former white classmate even reached out to tell Brown that he wants to know more about black culture, and that he now realizes that his life journey has not been as difficult. Brown’s friend is not the only one who is interested in delving into social issues many African-Americans face.

  The day after the mural was constructed, Courtney Garton, an Annapolitan of 45 years, stood outdoors in Annapolis holding a neon sign, while trying to raise consciousness about changing police culture. African-American men drove by in their cars, while beeping their horns, to affirm agreement with the written poster message. On one side, the sign read “STOP KILLING BLACK PEOPLE!!” On the other, “CHANGE POLICE CULTURE” was inscribed in large letters. Garton says he wants conversations about reforming police departments to occur, as opposed to defunding them.

  “I believe that systematic racism was created by white people, and I think that white people are [the] ones that need to change it,” Garton said. “I’m trying to get to a point where I really understand what it is like to be a black person in this country, and more and more, I’m understanding that the color of your skin is discriminated against in this country.”

Entrepreneurial flexibility keeps business afloat during pandemic

Purchasing a facemask is a new experience for many overwhelmed online shoppers, many of whom want to support brands made in the U.S.A. Buying from small businesses like Soluade Couture LLC (Soluade Couture) sends a message that buyers are actively rooting for local entrepreneurs to financially survive the pandemic.

The Prince George’s County based company exemplifies the value of embracing entrepreneurial flexibility with a twist.

Not too long ago, the owners of the company— husband and wife team— Abiodun Soluade and Jillian Soluade— specialized in men, women and children’s custom clothing designs. Abiodun, who works as the company’s lead tailor, has been sewing for 20 years, a skill he learned in his homeland, Nigeria. Jillian serves as Soluade Couture’s creative director.

Jillian noticed that many essential workers in post offices and grocery stores faced a shortage of disposable facemasks. Plus, she was told that in some cases workers were required to provide their own.

This observation gave her the idea to modify the company’s product offerings to include facemasks. Jillian shared the idea with her husband who agreed to explore the option. Now, the company has been selling stylish facemasks in Maryland and beyond since late March.

“As time went on, we realized that the whole epidemic was bigger than we thought, so we started taking part in [making masks],” Jillian said. “We [knew] a few people who worked in nursing homes [and] are on on-call duty, like RNs and CNAs (certified nursing assistants). We have donated masks to them because they work endlessly and tirelessly.”

“We are all in this together, and we will get through this together,” Governor Larry Hogan stated on his Twitter account in early April.

Along with maintaining the six feet social distancing requirement in order to slow the spread of coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines changed to recommend the use of cloth face coverings. Governor Hogan then mandated the use of face coverings or facemasks by executive order whenever individuals went to the grocery store, the pharmacy, on public transportation and other public places in the state.

Following that, it’s easy to understand why Soluade Couture’s business started picking up due to high demand. Jillian’s mother, Jenn Jones who joined the company as their human resources professional and assistant tailor began to provide assistance when sales surged.

Jillian Soluade stands by face masks sewn by her husband, Abiodun Soluade. She is wearing one of their company’s stylist creations. Jillian has been actively encouraging others to wear face masks, through her social media presence.

Photo: Ademola Olumota

Jillian Soluade stands by face masks sewn by her husband, Abiodun Soluade. She is wearing one of their company’s stylist creations. Jillian has been actively encouraging others to wear face masks, through her social media presence.

The entrepreneurial team is currently working to fulfill a facemask donation request for a local nursing home and a contract for a charter school staff as they prepare for Teacher Appreciation Day this month. Giving back to the community is a part of what Abiodun and Jillian are doing, but selling masks also helps to fill in monetary gaps left by COVID-19.

“Due to the pandemic, our business has been impacted, since the mandated law of social distancing. We have been blessed to stay afloat making masks for new and returning customers,” Jillian said. “We are offering an ongoing discount for healthcare workers when they purchase online, using a discount code, and once they send in proof of ID.”

Custom, pre-sewn orders, and unisex facemasks are offered. Soluade Couture’s developing niche seems to be fashionable, fun and versatile masks. Some are adorned with rhinestones or sequins. Ankara print masks are also popular with their customers. The company even sells a multi-colored facemask with a head wrap. Versatility appeals to customers with diverse tastes.

“I have a customer who said that she wanted to ‘slay’ and be safe,” Jillian said, mentioning that she envisions that fashionable facemasks will continue to gain popularity.

Soluade Couture’s three-layer, cotton masks are made with and without filters and can be hand washed and air-dried. The $12-$25 creations for men, women and children ages two to eight are eye-catching and unique.

“When my husband makes custom clothes, he [goes] ahead and [makes] some to match— so I see this as a trendy thing, too,” Jillian said. “I think this is going to be like a little fashion statement as well.”

Abiodun added that having an opportunity to use his creative talents to help keep people safer has been rewarding.

“Your gifts will make a way for you,” Abiodun said. “Sometimes opportunity comes to you. You need to grab it.”

Visit to view or order face masks online.

Ambitious College Student Supplements Lost Income By Making Facemasks

Ebonie Smith, 21, is a college student armed with the determination to meet her educational goals, despite unexpected events that unfolded because of the coronavirus pandemic. The junior who attends Mount St. Mary’s University located in Emmitsburg, Maryland, was suddenly required to return home to Anne Arundel County, when the university shut its doors over six weeks ago following Governor Larry Hogan’s executive order.

“It’s a huge transition. Granted my school is very small. It’s just that I’m used to living in an apartment on campus. I have four other roommates. I’m used to seeing my friends. I usually do homework in the library. I’m always around a group of people. It’s different because now I’m isolated,” Ebonie said adding that she utilizes distance learning through Zoom and other online tools. “I still have homework to do and exams to do online. It’s just like school, I’m just at home.”

Smith’s on-campus job was also interrupted. The college student told her mother, Veronica Smith, that she needed a job, since her campus job no longer existed. Ebonie gathered her thoughts and found a way to turn a challenge into an opportunity. She learned to sew from her grandmother when she was in middle school. Now, she remains busy implementing plan B to find work— making facemasks.

“I told my mom I could make masks and sell them for a really cheap price. I was just thinking $5 bucks. It’s really cheap and good quality material,” Ebonie said. “And I felt like if I make it that cheap, I could get sales and get the money that I need. My main motivation— I needed a job. I’m saving money for books for my summer classes, because I’m double majoring at school. I need three more classes, in addition to the ten that I have to take for my senior year.”

Veronica Smith is a single parent of two who has been laid off from her job until May, because of the pandemic. She supports her youngest child’s effort to give entrepreneurship a try for the first time, in between taking classes online. Cutting the patterns out before her daughter pins and sews fabric for the masks is one way that she has been helping Ebonie as she does something positive and constructive while she is at home.

“Sometimes, I iron the pleats for her and help her out with different things, because she needs an assistant,” Veronica said. “She just wants to be independent, and I’m very proud of her.”

Ebonie explained that her masks are a good quality, despite the cheap price. Cotton provides a protective barrier and the masks are machine washable. The college student added that the simple, two-layer masks don’t come with filters but she makes them while complying with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) standard. Instructions to take care of the reusable masks with patterns and designs are included to maintain quality and color.

When facemasks were primarily worn by essential workers and individuals with an immune deficiency or other health challenges, Ebonie made facemasks for herself and her mother and her brother who is an essential worker. However, after Governor Hogan mandated that facemasks were to be worn by everyone in Maryland going to any retail outlets, drugstores and public transportation, her business venture took off. People wanted facemasks made by Ebonie. Orders are still coming her way from word-of-mouth. Friends, family, former teachers from Glen Burnie High School where Ebonie graduated, business card referrals, advertising on social media through her personal Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram accounts are all reasons Ebonie quickly evolved into a busy entrepreneur.

“I think what really encouraged me is I make kids sizes as well, and everyone was like, ‘We’re having so much trouble finding kids’ sizes. I sell to any and everyone. Kids, adults and essential workers— everyone wants masks,” Ebonie said. “This is the first time that I actually took a stab at [entrepreneurship]. I took the leap, and it worked very well for me.”

Ebonie is currently creating specialty print facemasks for $7. Stock is limited but she will continue to make standard designs. You may find Ebonie Smith on Facebook or Instagram. Ebonie offers free delivery to customers near Severn, Annapolis, Glen Burnie and many neighboring towns in Anne Arundel County. Facemasks can be mailed out of the area.

Need masks? Reach out to Ebonie on Instagram at @EEEBBBBYYYY or Facebook at

Musicians, Singers Inspire Relaxation, Joy For Music Lovers During COVID-19

Although music events have been cancelled around the globe, due to COVID-19, artists have found ways to still uplift their audiences, near and far. When Governor Larry Hogan informed Marylanders that our state was officially on lockdown, due to a stay-at-home order, an independent musician from Anne Arundel County chose to indulge in creative optimism. Ron Ward, Jr., Minister of Music at Asbury Town Neck United Methodist Church, located in Severna Park, Maryland, viewed the current times as a perfect opportunity to share his musical gifts inside and outside of the sanctuary.

In this unprecedented period of social distancing and the requirement for churches to worship with less than ten members, Ward shares his creative gifts online by playing the piano and preparing worship songs for fellow participants on Sundays, during the COVID-19 crisis. When Ward is not leading Rev. James Bishop, Sr.’s congregation through musical praise, the independent artist transfers his musical gifts to another space. Ward’s new album—which is entitled “Ron Ward Jr. And Friends”— is a project celebrating musicians and singers he plays with during his musical journeys.

“I did seven covers, and three original tunes that I wrote myself,” Ward said, referring to his latest project, which was released on March 24, 2020. “I like to try to make music to make everybody feel good, so everybody, no matter what age, from your elderly, to your middle-age (person), to your young adult, even down to your teens. Anybody who puts this album on can say, ‘Oh, I remember that song,’ and I gave them a rendition of it that is still relevant now, and I just put my Ron Ward, Jr. spin on it.”

The piano, flutes, saxophone, strings and violins combine with vocals to deliver classic R&B tunes ranging from Stevie Wonder to Beyoncé. Ward has a reputation of making high-quality music that his fans expect to enjoy. Once again, Ward does not seem to disappoint, while taking listeners beyond the walls of their homes, while quarantine is in full effect. Ward mentioned that he is dispelling the myth the pandemic rules out the possibility of successfully launching a project or product at this time. For Ward, digital copies of his album have been popular, although hard copies can be ordered from him.

“With the album (“Ron Ward Jr. and Friends”), for that one hour that you’re listening to the album, you’re going to go somewhere,” Ward said. “You’re going to sit back and just relax, and just enjoy, and take your mind off of things, if you choose to listen to the whole album.”

While staying at home due to COVID-19, many people have grown weary of overeating or binge-watching bad news updates, so more of the world may pause more often to savor music. Ward’s fifth solo album has been well-received. Sales were strong, even in the first week. Ward’s U.S. fans typically begin listening to his projects before others join the musical wave in places such as Switzerland, Norway and New Zealand.

“It’s just an interesting ride to be an independent artist right now. You have control over your career,” Ward said. “I just try to make some feel good music for anybody to listen to.”

Ward’s wife, Dor’Ray Ward, also feels good when she hears her spouse’s work. She has been juggling working from home with caring for a one-year-old and a 16-year-old, with her husband’s assistance. She supports her husband’s passion but the busy mother also feels that Ward’s eclectic music appeals to other mothers like her. The song “Joy” was dedicated to the couple’s daughter, Rylee.

“You have your slow music for when you’re cooking or helping the kids with homework, you have your up-tempo for when you’re cleaning or in the car, and then you have the music that you can relax and sing to,” Dor’Ray said. “Since I’ve been married to Ron, his music has touched me in so many ways. No matter what mood I may be in, I can always count on his songs to bring me joy.”

The Wards have been married for nearly two years. For a couple who has struck a harmonious musical chord, the pandemic serves as a reminder to find bits of love sprinkled with joy, even in challenging times.

“Seeing Ron create and implement music, and then seeing that come to fruition, is amazing. I am so proud of him and all that he has accomplished in his music career,” Dor’Ray said. “I haven’t listened to one song that I can honestly say that I don’t like. His music fits whatever mood I may be in. Whether I want to dance, sing, or go to church he provides it all.”

Ward’s album is available via Apple Music; iTunes; Google Play Music; CD Baby and various streaming services online. Find Ron Ward, Jr. on Facebook to purchase a hard copy.

Maryland Boy With Big Heart Makes Positive Impact During Coronavirus Pandemic

For seven-year-old Cavanaugh Bell, the coronavirus pandemic offered a prime opportunity to spread positivity, while showing senior citizens how much he truly cares about their wellbeing. The Gaithersburg, Maryland resident kicked off a growing coronavirus campaign, by using $600 of his own money to begin purchasing hygiene and cleaning items for seniors.

The forward thinking first grader is also a social justice activist who implements his ideas to improve the community through his nonprofit called Cool & Dope. Cavanaugh started the organization in 2019, after he was told that he was too young to volunteer.

Cool & Dope is an acronym, for ‘Considering Others’ Obstacles in Life, Dish Out Positive Energy.’ That is exactly what Cavanaugh is doing with help from his mother and the nonprofit’s executive director, Llacey Simmons.

Shopping To Feed 90 Students

Courtesy Photo

Shopping To Feed 90 Students

“My grandma is my best, best friend and it is important to make sure our senior citizens are taken care of because they took care of our moms and dads when they were growing up. A lot of times people forget about senior citizens, and they live their life all alone, and that makes me very sad for them,” Cavanaugh said. “I always take care of my grandma and sometimes she is very strict with me, but I love her so much and I want her to be taken care of. I also think about her friends who don’t have family to visit them, and so I want to just spread the love I have in my soul to all of them.”

The mother and son team illustrates that even in the midst of crisis situations, youth can still come up with ideas and make a difference.

Simmons explained that making coronavirus care packages was Cavanaugh’s idea, after considering the effect that the pandemic could have on his 74-year-old maternal grandmother.

“She has COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) and does not have a car or easy means to get to and from the grocery store. On a trip to see her to get her items from the store, Cavanaugh asked if we could buy more to help the other seniors in her community,” Simmons said. “To do this, he asked if he could use the savings that I had put aside for him over the last few years. That’s how it started. We used the money to get the items from Target, and he recruited his teenage cousins to help him package the items and distribute them to seniors the next day.”

So far, 78 care packages have been put together and distributed to senior citizens who reside at Hillside Senior Apartment Homes (Hillside) in Gaithersburg, in addition to 31 hot meals, which were also delivered.

Kendra Dickerson, Regional Marketing Manager for the Franklin Johnston Group, remarked that Cavanaugh’s organization has been amazing to the seniors who reside at Hillside. She added that in this climate, some seniors feel forgotten, but Cavanaugh has a passion to lend a hand with a smile on his face.

Additionally, enough food to feed 90 students who attend “So What Else” program in Rockville, Maryland was distributed. Cavanaugh and his mother remain on the move, in spite of challenges of maintaining social distancing requirements and meeting the sanitation concerns.

“His savings covered the initial care pack assembly of 68 packs. He had $78 left over that covered a portion of the meals. Donations covered the other $125 for the food as well as the $145 for the food for the 90 students. We are now solely working on donations that have come in since Friday last week.”

Cavanaugh Bell

Courtesy Photo

Cavanaugh Bell

“We’ve been very conscious of wearing gloves and keeping things sanitized as much as possible. For the care packs, we left most of them at the door for the elderly residents to get them later,” Simmons said. “When we shop out in the public, we do our best to keep our distance from people and usually do one large store run, instead, of multiple smaller store runs. And lots of hand washing!”

Cavanaugh’s proactive attitude is capturing attention from across the country. Donations are still being made. The public’s financial response to Cavanaugh’s call-to-action will enable him to make more care packs to provide meals, groceries, and assistance to senior citizens and youth in need during the pandemic.

“I’m so thankful for everyone who donated and supported me. I couldn’t do this without you and I know together we can pull through this,” Cavenaugh said.

Not only has Cavanaugh stepped up during the pandemic, but he has made it his mission through Cool & Dope to inspire kids to take a stand and speak out against bullying and working toward eradicating it by his 18th birthday in November 2030. Cavanaugh was once bullied, but he explained that he tries to tell himself positive things, and not let haters bother him, because he knows he has good in his soul.

“I learn from him (Cavanaugh) everyday about what it means to help others selflessly,” Simmons said.

Cavanaugh Bell

Courtesy Photo

Cavanaugh Bell

“When the coronavirus season is over, I am going to make more speeches to raise awareness about bullying to get that to stop by 2030. For now, I’ll just keep making care packs, and hopefully inspiring people to do the same thing for the senior citizens in their communities.”

For more information about Cavanaugh and his campaigns, visit:

Meeting The Temptations, A Dream Come True For 15-Year-Old

As another Christmas holiday-giving season is nearly upon us, random acts of kindness never go out of style. This time of year, people are often in search of the perfect gift to give to friends and loved ones. However, a kind gesture exhibited by Dr. Otis Williams and his fellow Temptations members reminds us that giving time to someone is one of the most precious gifts of all.

Despite a rigorous tour schedule, Williams, the founding and only surviving member of the original Temptations line-up, made one Maryland young man’s wish come true on the evening of October 26, 2019 at the Lyric in Baltimore City.

Fifteen-year-old Eric Carpenter-Grantham smiled widely when he came face-to-face with Williams before the Temptations sang their hit songs in front of a packed house of all ages. Eric, who just celebrated his fifteen birthday, embodies the idea that life is a gift that should be embraced each day.

In 2016, the teenager underwent heart bypass surgery and even though he still experiences symptoms of heart block, suffers from asthma, has some speech delay, and lives with high functioning autism spectrum disorder, he has made three gospel CDs, which should remind everyone about the value of determination and having a positive outlook.

Williams’ celebration of life is an inspiration. The widely acclaimed artist turned 78 in late October but his energetic spirit and undeniable talent remains engrained in countless hearts and minds around the globe.

“In 1961, the Temptations started. We’ve been rolling ever since,” Williams said in an exclusive interview with The Baltimore Times. “It’s great when you can touch people of all walks of life as young as they are, all the way up to seventies and eighties and ninety years old. So, we cover a lot of generational span for touching people’s hearts and spirit.”

Eric Carpenter-Grantham, 15,  (left) recently celebrated his 15th birthday. Despite having heart surgery at the age of 11, managing autism spectrum disorder, speech delay and asthma, the spiritual teenager from Sliver Spring, Md. who is a gospel artist has not stopped living his dreams. Eric says that other kids with autism can be whatever they want. Eric loves very old music and has made three gospel CDs. His mother, Linda Carpenter-Grantham (right) raises her son with

Eric Carpenter-Grantham, 15, (left) recently celebrated his 15th birthday. Despite having heart surgery at the age of 11, managing autism spectrum disorder, speech delay and asthma, the spiritual teenager from Sliver Spring, Md. who is a gospel artist has not stopped living his dreams. Eric says that other kids with autism can be whatever they want. Eric loves very old music and has made three gospel CDs. His mother, Linda Carpenter-Grantham (right) raises her son with

Williams’ personal journey spans from Texarkanka, Texas to Motown and global superstardom. The group was even named the #1 R&B Artists of All-Time, according to Billboard. Even so, the group’s achievement surpasses the millions of albums that have been sold. The Temptations continue to inspire a new generation of new fans like Eric, in addition to other fans of all ages, from a variety of walks of life.

“It just shows you that music can cast a long, living spell. Music is boundless. Music can bring people together,” Williams said. “It’s very inspiring when a young man such as himself (Eric) admires us and our singing, and wants to meet us all through the efforts of us singing. It inspired him to want to meet us. That’s a big, huge compliment. And then to know what he’s dealing with as a far as himself, that’s even more inspiring.”

The Temptations and Eric have something else in common: growing up singing and appreciating gospel music. Faith in a higher being is prominently showcased through the way Eric wears the word “Jesus” cut into his hair.

His mother, Linda Carpenter-Grantham says that her son always asks God to make his dreams come true, including when it comes to meeting singers and other well-known people that he admires like the Temptations. She added that it has been Eric’s wish to meet The Temptations, ever since he saw the movie back in the summer.

“I just said, ‘thank you Lord,’ because I knew God would do it (allow Eric to meet the Temptations),” Carpenter-Grantham said. “Of course I am very happy for him. I feel like God has a purpose for Eric’s life. It’s something about each (music) group or each person, the way that he feels about them that it’s doing something inside for him. It’s building inside of his character. He’s very sensitive about these people (artists).”

Carpenter-Grantham added that her son genuinely loves gospel music and oldies. He even researches artists he admires. Eric’s joyous spirit serves as a reminder that we should never let go of having faith in our dreams, no matter what we endure.

Eric remarked that the meeting with Williams and the other members of the group was a beautiful moment. He wishes more young people would like this kind of music as opposed to cursing-filled, inappropriate music.

“It was a really special moment for me to see the Temptations. Their music is so nice,” Eric said. “It just warmed my heart.”

The Temptations are approaching another heartwarming milestone. In 2020, the group will celebrate their 60th anniversary. Williams’s autobiography, entitled “Temptations” is the source for the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, “Ain’t Too Proud.”

The musical is scheduled to tour over 50 cities for over 100 weeks, starting in Providence, RI next July in 2020.