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Charles Drew Health Center

For Aja Anderson, Community Engagement Manager, Charles Drew Health Center, Inc. is a perfect harmony of her passion for health, love for helping people, and giving back to the community she was raised in. “It’s simple, this is my community. There’s not a day that I don’t walk into one of our locations and see a familiar face. These are the people that I care about.”

When her team and role became disrupted due to COVID-19, Aja jumped into action to ensure Community Engagement was still on the front lines being a helping hand. “My entire team was displaced. We were able to re-purpose in other areas and departments who needed assistance.

From making appointment reminder calls to screening visitors in the buildings. My team was still able to make an impact.”

With the main priority of Community Engagement as grassroot efforts to ensure all community members have medical homes and access to healthcare, Aja had to rethink their traditional approach.

“In July 2020, we were able to resume outreach with COVID-19 protocols in place. Our model transitioned into more street outreach. We worked to meet the people where they were in the community. We went to grocery stories, gas stations, beauty and barber shops to keep serving the people.”

“The support of the community has been amazing. From getting over 3,000 handmade masks to helping boost employee morale, the community has stepped up. I have been touched by all of the people that were willing to help out Charles Drew in the heart of North Omaha.”

Community Features

‘It was phenomenal’ Hundreds attend Fall Festival in the Village

It’s a beautiful thing when the village comes together. The weather was beautiful, too.

30 small businesses, venues and organizations came together to host the very first Fall Festival in the Village at 24th and Lake. The new event builds on the successes of Christmas in the Village and Native Omaha Days activities hosted at 24th and Lake.

“The goal since we launched Christmas in the Village ten years ago and developed the North Omaha Village Plan was to build towards having large monthly and weekly events at 24th and Lake to further advance the district,” said Willie Barney, CEO of the Empowerment Network and co-owner of the Revive Center and Carver Legacy Center.

“It was phenomenal,” said Terri Sanders, publisher of the Omaha Star. “They had a chance to have fun and learn about the history and see the future of the Omaha Star when they stopped by.”

“Seeing the kids having such a great time was the best,” said Cynthia Hume, site director for OEDC’s Fair Deal Village. “They were all enjoying the games and petting zoo and I remember one little girl skipping across the parking lot saying ‘this was so much fun’ as she was leaving. That’s what it is all about.”

The Empowerment Network, OEDC, Revive, FHAS, Omaha Star and others teamed together to host the first Christmas in the Village and new businesses and venues have joined in along the way in the historic district at 24th and Lake.

Barney started bringing the businesses and venues back together for additional planning in late August of this year following one of the most successful Native Omaha Days on record, planned and hosted by the Native Omaha Days Organizing Committee.

He felt this was the time to create a collective master schedule and calendar to keep the great things happening at 24th and Lake front and center.  The initial planning team has continued to expand and now includes 30+ businesses, venues and organizations.  Even more are joining now.

“The holidays are a significant time for most businesses. When we work together, 24th and Lake is a great location for music, food, shopping, connecting with history and celebrating black culture,” added Barney.

Fall Festival is a great example of this collective approach.  Each business and venue agreed to take on a part of the event and offer something unique for children and families.  The goal for the team was to start small just like Christmas in the Village and build as they go.

“We were blown away by the turnout,” said Brigitte McQueen, executive director of The Union of Contemporary Art. The Union provided free pumpkins, craft making, a new exhibit and introduced their Pursuing Legacy project with Denise Chapman.

“We ran out of pumpkins and produce, brought more out and ran out again because there were so many families,” added McQueen.

In addition to the face painting, cartoon characters, hula hooping and other free activities, families supported the small businesses in a big way.

“We were excited about all of the families that came out to support the event,” said Yolanda Barney, co-owner of the Revive Center.  “We were pleasantly surprised about the number that attended.  Our team is planning ahead for the Trunk or Treat event.  We really appreciate the support of the community.”

“It was so amazing, such a great turnout,” said Imani Murry, co-owner of Ital Vital Living that offered the free face painting and food for sale by Little Ve’s and their own smoothies and juices. “It went so well for our business and Little Ve’s that we sold out of just about everything.  Plus, we provided face painting for over 300!”

“This was definitely successful and I think we’ve found another annual event,” said Eric Ewing, executive director of the Great Plains Black History Museum. “We had nearly 200 go through the museum in just four hours.  Guests learned a little history and the kids were able to get a treat, too.”

That is exactly the vision and goal for The Village at 24th and Lake.  A long time theme for the village revitalization efforts has been “A Rich History & Thriving Future.”

The event went extremely well even though one of the main attractions ran into a major snag. The hayride was not available as the farmer coming from Springfield, who was providing the trailer, had a flat tire without a replacement.

Organizers said it was disappointing to not be able to host the ride for the community after all of the coordination, but they are now planning to add it to the Trunk or Treat on October 30th.

All of the other activities were in place and fully enjoyed by those in attendance.

“Being a community advocate and business owner, there was something magical in the air Saturday,” said Michael Young, president of Technology Consulting Services and co-owner of Rooted Synergy Gallery. “Live music, activities for all ages and the community coming together to support businesses is exactly what this district needs.”

Based on the attendance and all of the smiles, laughter and positive energy, the future is bright for The Village at 24th and Lake.

Connecting families, friends and community to outstanding events and a positive environment including music, food, activities, arts, culture and small businesses, all within the historic walking district, that’s a beautiful thing.

Stay connected with future events here.

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Community Features

Fall Festival in the Village at 24th and Lake

Building on ten years of success with Christmas in the Village, the Empowerment Network, OEDC, Revive, FHAS, Omaha Star and 30 plus businesses, venues and organizations have come together to plan and host the first Fall Festival at 24th and Lake.

It’s an open invitation for families, friends, neighbors and the whole community to come down and celebrate the start of fall and have a great time together.

“We have something for all ages,” said Willie Barney, CEO of the Empowerment Network and co-owner of the Revive Center and Carver Legacy Center in the district.

“It’s an opportunity to build on the positive momentum at 24th and Lake, provide some fun activities for children and families and continue the development of our business, food, arts, culture and entertainment district.”

Those in attendance will have more than 20 different activities to enjoy including these highlights:

  • A hayride starting near Dreamland Park at 24th and Lizzie Robinson
  • Free pumpkins and produce, craft activities and exhibits at the Union;
  • Caramel apples, cinnamon rolls and delicious lunch items at the Revive Center
  • A petting zoo and carnival games at OEDC
  • Face painting, smoothies and vegan foods at Ital Vital
  • Hula hooping and snacks at the Bryant Center
  • Free candy at the Great Plains Black History Museum
  • Cider and cookies at Styles of Evolution
  • A fall coloring contest at the Omaha Star
  • Great music at Dreamland Park.

Cartoon characters will be seen outside the Carver Legacy Center, inside the Fair Deal Village Marketplace near the Rooted Synergy Gallery and at 24th and Grant next to the Mildred Brown Park.

The Husker football game will be shown at the Revive Center and Bryant Center for those that want to keep up with the game while also taking part in the festival.

All of the businesses in the area will be open and offering special discounts and fall merchandise.  Still Poppin will have all of the most popular flavors including the Omaha Mix, Cookies and Cream, Caramel Cheddar, Cheese, Cajun Jalepeno and Buffalo Ranch.

“We are really excited to be part of these events,” said Imani Murray, co-owner of Ital Vital Living.  “We opened this summer and we have received great support from the community.”


“Our part is the hayride right here in the neighborhood,” said Michael Young, president of Technology Consulting Solutions and co-owner of the Rooted Synergy Gallery. “We are looking forward to providing a fun experience for kids of all ages.”  The Rooted Synergy Gallery also opened this year at the Fair Deal Village.

“The Union team is planning some great activities for families,” said Brigitte McQueen, executive director for The Union for Contemporary Art. “It’s perfect timing as we have reopened and have new exhibits and free produce to offer the community.”

The event planning team encourages everyone to mask up and enjoy themselves in a safe way. The partners have also teamed with Douglas County and the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance to offer vaccinations in front of the Mildred Brown Park during the event.

“It’s the first Fall Festival that we are all doing together. If you want to see something added in the future let us know,” said Barney. “We would love to see it grow the same way Christmas in the Village has evolved over the past ten years to include thousands of attendees the first Saturday in December.”

“We will add more partners and activities as we go. And, the businesses and venues in the Village plan to have events like this consistently the rest of this year and moving forward in 2022.”

“This is a great opportunity for the 24th and Lake Street village to come together and show a unified effort in bringing family and fun activities to the area.  The momentum is building,” said Cynthia Hume, Site Manager for the Fair Deal Village Marketplace.

“We’ve been here at 24th and Lake for seventeen years,” said Don McPherson, owner of Styles of Evolution. “It’s great to be a part of the rebirth of this area and working with other businesses to make it happen.”

Mask up and come on down to the Village at 24th and Lake.



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Community Features

Revive Center welcomes Chef Jamil to 24th and Lake

The Revive Center is excited to welcome Chef Jamil of House of Bah back to 24th and Lake this weekend.

Chef Jamil and his now-famous Jerk Chicken were a huge hit during Native Omaha Days.  Since that time, he has won first place a the PitchBlack competition hosted by the Midlands African Chamber and received overwhelming support at the recent Afro Fest held at Aksarben.

“This has been an unbelievable time for me, my family and all of our partners,” said Jamil.

“In some ways, I tried to leave the kitchen, but it keeps calling me back.  It has been passed down through the generations of my family.”

One of Chef Jamil’s goals is to introduce African food and culture in new ways.  Through his non-profit, Eat N’ Talk Africa, he’s doing exactly that.  The goal is in his words is “to shed light on African Culinary Heritage and offer forums for intercultural exchange.”

This summer he partnered for the first time with the Empowerment Network’s Step-Up Omaha program to offer hands on culinary training to a cohort of 14 and 15 year olds.  The youth advanced to preparing and cooking their own meals and worked with the entrepreneurship and technology cohorts to design and implement the Step-Up Cafe.

“The food is just one part of the vision,” he said.  “I want the food to help create conversation, build bridges across different races and nationalities and create knowledge and understanding about Africa.  It’s bigger than the food.”

Though his vision is bigger than the food, the food is downright excellent.  Jamil brings incredibly delicious food with exquisite African flavor.  Customers have given rave reviews.  The presentation is second to none.

“One of the primary goals for the Revive Center is to provide a platform for chefs and cooks to introduce new foods options to the community and specifically 24th and Lake,” said Yolanda Barney, co-owner of the Revive Center.

“Not only is Chef Jamil bringing fresh new dishes with an African flavor, he’s working with us to accomplish another goal of presenting more fine dining opportunities in North Omaha.”

Chef Jamil will present the Casual/Fine Dining Experience during a Pop Up at the Revive Center on Friday and Saturday.  Reservations can be made here.   Order in Advance or for Take out here.

Chef Jamil will present a three-course meal including Jerk Chicken, Cornmeal Crusted Salmon, Vegan dishes, appetizers and desserts.

On Sunday, Chef Jamil will be the featured Chef at the Revive Center’s popular Sunday Gospel Lunch between noon and 3 pm. Open seating is available as well as takeout.

In addition to these special events and popups, The Revive Center is open every week Tuesday – Saturday for lunch 11:30-2 pm.  Champions Cafe features fried and grilled chicken sandwiches and strips, original gourmet burgers and specialty salads by Darnell Relford.  Thursday – Saturday during lunch Wes Zollicoffer of Feeding Royals features shrimp and grits, rasta pasta, croquettes, and other pasta and seafood dishes.  Open seating is available as well as take out and curbside.

For more information, please call 402-490-1542.

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