Community Partner Spotlight: Be The Change

by | Apr 21, 2023 | Funding

Be The Change was born out of a need to provide for the Jennings community amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Aja Owens, who is a former councilwoman of Jennings and one of the organization’s founders, shared that within the 30+ years of her living there, Jennings went from beautiful and thriving to underdeveloped and stricken by poverty. She noticed that people were already living in dire circumstances and struggling with a lack of resources, which in turn was exacerbated by the pandemic. After gathering for the holidays when COVID-19 hit, the Owens family decided to cook food, put it in to-go boxes, and serve seniors and families who were unable to get out or didn’t have much to begin with. Over time, in addition to hot meals, Be The Change began to give out PPE kits, masks, toiletries, and other essentials to help those in need.

The Owens family considers themselves to be servant leaders and serving their Jennings community is rooted in love. Some other core values of the organization include respect, empathy, integrity, and compassion; Aja discussed that learning about trauma added another level of compassion to her work. She recognizes that people are often taught to survive through things as opposed to stepping back and realizing they did not choose these conditions and don’t have to be bound by them. As a community, it is important to speak about trauma and not judge anyone for it, as it can present itself differently for others.  Aja noted, “Respecting everybody’s process and their journey is what we’re all about and I’ve been implementing that even in our programming. We’re sensitive when we’re addressing these families and working with children and centering it in trauma awareness.”

The politician side of Aja knows that there are resources, programs, and services out there to help people, but there tends to be a barrier where people are not always being served. People can be struggling but unaware of what information and support is out there. She says, “Once we can get that information to the people and get that help to the people, I see the change. The change can sometimes be slow, but I see how people are feeling empowered once they know people genuinely care.” Being able to see these transitions is what Aja finds most rewarding, as well as seeing people making positive strides in their lives and in the lives of their children.

While more funding would better support Be The Change, the organization leaders stay connected and always show up for the community even when funds run out. At the same time, with more monetary assistance, they could continue to replicate their programming and brand themselves to have more visibility. Aja also welcomes collaboration with other nonprofits and agencies who are doing similar work and want to make a change. She left us with this: “We are willing to partner. We are willing to share information, share resources to just make a bigger impact in our community. We’re servant leaders and so with that we lead with love.  We’re volunteers and don’t mind doing things, whether we’re getting paid or not. I think that’s the message I want to send. We’re just willing to do the work whether there’s funding or not.”

To get involved or contribute, email Aja Owens at or visit the organization’s Facebook page for more information.

Learn more about Be The Change’s FLOURISH grant-funded project, “Jennings 4th Ward Strong.”


Recent Posts

Contact Info

5501 Delmar Blvd, #B240
St. Louis, MO 63112

Our Upcoming Events

Sign Up for Our Newsletter