Tendea Family members Nicolas Fullard, left, Briahna Jackson, Tasin Muhammad, Founder Elijah Miles and Iheanyi Nwosu Jr. (Courtesy of the Tendea Family)

By Michelle Richardson
Special to the AFRO

There is something special about people who invoke change in the communities they grew up in and the Tendea Family embodies what it means to give back. They selflessly serve the Baltimore community through various events and initiatives.  

“We’re not the type of people that want to leave Baltimore City and we feel like too many people… 

The Tendea Family, the name Tendea is Swahili slang for “hustle,” was founded on the campus of Morgan State University in 2015 by Elijah Miles, Tasin Muhammad and Iheanyi Nwosu. 

“ Young, Black people from Baltimore City that wanted to do something to change and impact the Black community,” said Miles. 

“We want to advance Baltimore City’s Black community by operating transformative programs related to identity, self-improvement, community service and engagement.” 

To put action behind their mission, the Tendea Family operates various programs such as community cleanups that were started three years ago and have seen 150 clean ups and counting every Sunday morning. 

“During the community cleanups, in the winter months, we give out coffee and donuts, and during the hot seasons we create smoothies on the spot and pass those out to the community.” 

“We’re out there engaging with the residents. We’re building relationships with them so when issues arise, they’ll have a support system,” stated Miles. 

The Drawing Board, which is a Black history book club held every Sunday afternoon is a discussion held on how certain books relate to Baltimore City. Wednesdays, there is a sisters dinner for Black women to talk about the issues that relate to women and build sisterhood. 

On Monday’s, community workouts are held in hopes to get Black people caring about their health and fitness. 

Tendea recently held their first annual Kwanzaa event which coincided with the family’s fourth annual Black book giveaway. 

“In honor of Kwanzaa, we started our Black book giveaway because we felt like a lot of our kids haven’t been gifted books, so we created a solution for that.” 

“It was a beautiful event. There was performances by poets like Black Chakra who is from Baltimore and is a national poetry slam champion, we had singers, dancers, and speakers. We have out a whole bunch of books and people learned about Kwanzaa and themselves.”

“This year because of COVID and people so distance, we thought it was an ample time to have a Kwanzaa celebration. We knew we had to have a lot of precautions so people could be safe but we thought it was really important for us to celebrate a community Kwanzaa event,” stated Miles.

Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Tendea family had to shift their focus. Programs were held virtually for a while but Miles says the pandemic motivated Tendea in its mission so much more because the family had a lot of free time to think about what really matters. 

“At the start of the pandemic where people were getting laid off and losing their jobs, we immediately initiated a emergency grocery program where we gave out over 600 bags of grocery to people. For about two months, we delivered groceries to families that needed them.” 

All of the events held by the Tendea Family are free and open to the public and anyone that wants to volunteer can “just simply show up to one of the events,” encouraged Miles. 

Tendea also has open membership says Miles. “It’s a process to get in but someone can start as a volunteer but end up an employee.” 

For more information on The Tendea Family and its programs, visit www.tendeafamily.com or checkout the family on Instagram and Facebook at Tendea Family.