Members of FoodCorps' Onyx Crown Collective standing together and smiling

Last month was the long-anticipated retreat for FoodCorps’ Onyx Crown Collective (OCC), an employee resource group for Black staff at FoodCorps. This was the first time that the Black staff at FoodCorps came together, in person, as a collective.

OCC staffers Amisha Harding and Myriah Wallace greet each other at the retreat in Washington, D.C.

“The OCC is a sanctuary space born out of necessity. OCC members offer one another respite from a larger universal work culture that has told us that we don’t belong. We know that we do, we know that we’re brilliant, we know that we’re changemakers. On days when it’s hard to remember that, we gather together to remind each other. We invite each other back to ourselves. We are not merely networking, we aim to encourage and inspire our OCC colleagues through mentorship, leadership development, wellness activities, workshops, and Black joy!” —Members’ description of the OCC, as explained by Jenetta Hargrove

OCC staffers Robyn Pratt and Morgan McGhee.

Held in Washington, D.C., the two-day retreat was a time for community building, fellowship, and connection. Staffers enjoyed a welcome reception, programming centered in community, and a night at Reframing the Narrative, a Black-centered ballet at the Kennedy Center.

OCC staffers Michelle Emeh and Josie Seid.

“I left the retreat feeling like I have a real community in FoodCorps, and since then have felt like I can show up in my role as truly myself. After months of Zoom meetings, I don’t even have the words to express how healing and impactful it was for me to hug and be hugged, to feel the way someone enters a room, and so much more.” —Myriah Wallace

Goodies for staff celebrating the OCC.

“Connecting with other Black staff felt like a reunion. It was energizing, heartwarming, and just what I needed during this time. Getting to meet people face to face and experience their energy made me even more grateful for our OCC space and the time we get to spend together being unapologetically ourselves.”

—Malaika Simmons
OCC staffer Robyn Pratt speaks to the group.

“The OCC is a support/affinity group that encourages us to fully embody and celebrate our Blackness boldly. It is a safe place to share our thoughts, concerns, and challenges in this work environment. I have found it to be uplifting, educational and rewarding.” —Felica Ratliff

OCC staffer Sequoyah Smoore reacts when more folks arrive.

Cheers to the OCC for a meaningful first retreat, and we look forward to many more opportunities to connect and cultivate community!