The Black Diamond Foundation just became an official nonprofit organization—the organization doesn’t even have a website yet—and founder Ariana Johnson is eager to get started on her mission of helping the Black community with their physical and mental well-being needs through advocacy and community outreach.
Johnson, who is an administrative assistant with the Cuyahoga County Domestic Relations Court founded the Black Diamond Foundation to pay homage to her two grandmothers, Dorothy Johnson and Henrietta Goodwin—both of whom Johnson says were active in community outreach within their neighborhoods.
Dorothy Johnson, Johnson’s paternal grandmother, was raised in Harlem and was a chef and owned her own catering company called Dorothy’s. Goodwin, her maternal grandmother, grew up in the Central neighborhood and volunteered for the former Huron Hospital, worked with the youth ministry at the Greater Faith Missionary Baptist Church, and once of dreamed of opening a shelter for older and displaced members of the community.
“I decided to galvanize everything that both of my grandmothers were passionate about and reach out to others under one organization,” says Johnson of her motivation.
“I am a proud Black woman,” she says. “I would like the Black Diamond Foundation to be an organization that can connect members in the Black Community in greater Cleveland with organizations that are here for the betterment of people physically and mentally.”
Johnson says health issues are a critical concern that had to be addressed.
“I feel that, being a part of the Black community, we don't address areas that fall under physical and mental health and wellness. High cholesterol, diabetes, and Black men have higher percentage of hypertension, [while] Black women have the highest and most aggressive forms of Breast Cancer. There is a high percentage of Black infant mortality and Black women dying during childbirth. As far as mental health, up until recent years mental illness was a very taboo subject in the Black Community and we were under the ‘What happens in the house stays in this house’ philosophy.”
Johnson received approval and the license for the organization on Nov. 14. And began planning her first event—a Christmas Pajama drive. With families struggling financially due to COVID-19, she says she believes the pajama drive can help families helps with the cost of basic needs.
“Yes, toys are great, but toys can be misplaced or broken in a matter of months and sometimes weeks,” she says. “Pajamas, robes, and socks are useful items that a child can have for a little while longer.”
Dorothy Johnson’s paternal grandmother Henrietta.Johnson hopes to collect between 100 and 200 pajama sets to distribute to those to her own Collinwood neighborhood, was well as the rest of Greater Cleveland.
She is working with the Haven Home, an overflow homeless shelter serving women and children, and the Greater Faith Church to help distribute the donations. New items can be dropped off at the Greater Faith Missionary Baptist Church, 13816 St. Clair Ave., this Saturday, Dec. 19. The donations will be then distributed to families on Saturday, Dec. 26.
In the future, Johnson says she hopes to host a community health fair. She plans to gather various health organizations and give them each a table at the fair, so community members can learn about physical and mental health programs and resources that are available.
Johnson says mental illness within the Black community has long-been a taboo subject, and she applauds high-profile people like singers Frank Ocean rapper Big Sean, and actress Taraji P. Henson, who advocate for mental health assistance. Johnson hopes this is something that the Black Diamond can also do.
She also hopes to host cooking classes and future clothing and school supplies drives.
“The Black Diamond is my baby,” says Johnson. “It’s an idea that I had for about five years and, by the grace of God, I have been blessed with the resources to bring it to fruition.”
Johnson is currently running all operations herself and hopes to have a website up within the next two months.