BY Fiona Zhou, Clementein Zei, and Sonya Rashkovan APR. 11, 2021
In a normal year, the morning air, brisk and cold, pinches the noses of the crowd huddled on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. But in a sudden flash, the pandemic has halted these interactions. The once lively crowds are gone, and organizations like MoCoForChange are stuck leading their seminars, events and fundraisers online.
Since its inception, MoCoForChange has grown and expanded considerably. The organization has started to reach out to a wide branch of school districts around Montgomery County hoping to further diversify their “political participation and empowerment amongst the youth,” as Maahe Kunvar, the Communications Director, put it.
Montgomery County For Change, otherwise known as MoCoForChange is a grassroots organization that is centered in Montgomery County, Maryland. It was founded by students who decided to take action following the 2018 Stoneman Douglas high school shooting. At the start of its existence, MoCoForChange focused on gun violence and gun regulation-based issues. Shortly afterward, however, they began to expand to a wider range of issues and later changed their name to what it is now.
Though Kunvar has only been part of the organization for about a year, she’s been able to witness how MoCoForChange has “spread its wings.”
“In just the time that it’s [MoCoForChange] existed, since 2018, it’s gotten incredibly far I think as a grassroots organization especially, to see how much it’s grown. And it’s, you know, it’s amazing that we not only take part in change and advocacy that deals with gun violence but also other issues,” said Kunvar.
The organization has now grown to over 200 members, allowing for a more diverse and accurate representation of the large county. “For a grassroots organization, because the amount of input and feedback and voice we get from these students and people in our community involved is”¦ it’s honestly key to what our organization is,” said Kunvar.
And even though COVID-19 has introduced numerous challenges that MoCoForChange has had to overcome, there have been silver linings. Previously, a major constraint for students interested in taking part in the organization was the commute. But now, virtual standards allow for better accessibility.
“Because we’re in an online setting now, it’s a lot easier for people to just hop onto meetings and take some time out of their day and learn about what we’re doing and get involved and participate in our conversations,” said Kunvar.
Though MoCoForChange will most likely be able to resume in-person events when the pandemic improves, the newly learned aspects of being online will not go unnoticed nor become forgotten. “I think that somewhat when we do go back, I think that having that online meetings would still be really, really helpful,” Kunvar said.“I think that it would increase student accessibility and it would be a lot easier for students to participate.”
And to students or young activists out there who are determined to spread awareness through their own community, Kunvar has simple advice."Start something,” she said. “Start a group. Start an organization. Start something to address those issues and as afraid as someone might be, as afraid as you might get and as many obstacles that you might have to face, with an organization, you can overcome anything. You just have to work with it."