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OCMA History

Oconee Community Mentoring Association Inc.

OCMA INC

In the fall of 2009, Christopher C Johnson in collaboration with a group of local church Deacons and the Washington Street Presbyterian Church, started a community-based youth enrichment experiment, called the Oconee Christian Men Association. A girl’s division was later added, the Oconee Christian Women Association led by Carolyn Bell.  Finally, the two divisions were combined to become the Oconee Community Mentoring Association (OCMA), pronounced [aak-muh]. The vision was to provide a structured, safe and positive environment for youth to learn good values and have fun. OCMA focused on the types of activities that young people were interested in, and adopted those activities into programs to compliment the desired OCMA organizational culture:

To motivate young people to apply themselves and elevate above any social economic circumstance.

Promoting a healthy lifestyle and assisting them in spiritual, academic, and social development.

From 2009 to 2014 OCMA hosted a popular performing arts summer project called Funky Town Productions. These impersonation variety shows were creative community events presented at Theatre Dublin during Black History Month. The proceeds from that production allow the OCMA group to be active participants, in the prestigious, annual, Evelyn Lowery Heritage Education Tour. For 3 years OCMA was a significant part of the reenactment of the Bloody Sunday March with iconic Civil Rights and Congressional Leaders.

In 2011, OCMA was inducted into BRAG Dream Team youth cycling Club, based in Atlanta, Georgia. This program introduced youth to cycling and camping. Kids were trained to ride road bikes, to participate in the annual Bicycle Ride Across Georgia (BRAG). The BRAG adventure is 7 days of camping and cycling through beautiful scenic cities in Georgia.

Also in 2011, OCMA formed a competitive STEMs robotics team with FIRST LEGO League. Youth learn to solve real world problems with technology. The FIRST program has helped youth to enhance their academic performances in school and expose them to emerging technologies in the 21st Century workforce. FIRST Core Values teaches humility, professionalism, teamwork, and fun.

In the OCMA literacy program, youth review Black American History. In 2012, the group researched Juneteenth, which is African American’s Independence Day. Immediately after appreciating the potential communal benefit of the holiday, OCMA started Juneteenth recognition in the City of Dublin, Ga. The celebration was ideal for embracing the diversity in the community. The annual event, over time, gained momentum and triggered other positive community initiatives for OCMA and the City of Dublin.

One of those initiatives related to the Juneteenth celebration was the renewal of the Martin Luther King Oratorical contest. OCMA formed the Juneteenth Planning Committee in 2012. One of the action items was to recognize a significant landmark for African Americans in the City of Dublin. From historical reviews, in the OCMA Black American History classroom, First A.B. Church was noted as the location of the first public speech by young Martin Luther King Jr, on April 17, 1944. Collaborating with a First A.B. Church member that was on the Juneteenth Planning Committee it was proposed to re-activate the First A.B. Church annual Martin Luther King Jr Oratorical Contest. The first contest was hosted in 2013. Of the 16 speakers that first year, OCMA recruited 14 youth to participate in the event and 10 were coached by the OCMA group. All the youth orators were superb. Each year, thereafter, the Martin Luther King Jr Oratorical Contest is a special time in the City of Dublin and for the OCMA youth, that have the opportunity to speak, at the historic First A.B. Church

In recognition for great youth literacy support in 2017, OCMA was delegated as the Bike Literacy Team for the City of Dublin Board of Education. OCMA spoken word performances opened doors for some spectacular historical learning tours in the United States. The OCMA Bike Literacy Team has performed at the Cultural Heritage Center in Selma Alabama, King Memorial in Washington DC, St. James AME ZION Church in Ithaca, New York, built in 1836, the National Youth Summit in Queens, New York, and Black Wall Street in Tulsa Oklahoma. Plans for 2023 and the future are to coordinate college visit bike tours.

In 2023 OCMA is incorporating as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization to refine our programs and expand the service for a wider impact in the city of Dublin, Ga.

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