On Thursday March 23rd 2017 the Association for Youth Empowerment (AYE) lost one of its warriors and founders: David Abramson.
David was a powerful, compelling individual who we relied on for support, for charisma, and for innovation. He was our “bridge” to people, to communities and to the world.
We admire him for his tenacious behavior, hyperactive determination and commitment to all people.
We are in awe of his unceasing commitment to prosperity and love for everyone.
We acknowledge him for his tireless dedication to AYE’s mission of partnering with community members and organizations who share a common goal of eliminating social oppression and fostering respect, acceptance and compassion in our schools, families and communities.
Even though David is no longer with us in physical form, we are committed that his spirit will live on through the work he started.
David A: We love you, we honor you and will miss you!
Perhaps no one on the board was as close to David as our Board President: Robert Cooper. Below are his words he delivered at David’s Funeral which summarize more completely what he meant to all of us.
I am Robert Cooper: A retired teacher who introduced Japanese language studies to Detroit Public Schools in 1986.
I am the president of association of youth empowerment (aye).
Aye sponsors initiatives such as :
Bridging 8 Mile
Community leadership and development
Dave Ramsey’s financial peace
Detroit Boyz Rocks
Empowerment zone in hazel park high school
Community challenge day
Landmark forum and curriculum for living
Connection central, which is a social gathering and spontaneous jam session
Bridging 23 between Ann arbor and Ypsilanti
The David and Robert show: live and in living color
David had his hands and heart on the pulse of all of these initiatives.
David suddenly died at the peak of his enthusiasm for life; at the peak of his love for friends, family, faith, education, politics, power and contribution and prosperity. That left people talking and left me wondering:
Can I do a translation of someone’s life that left some people saying:
He’s a butt head. But every team worth its salt needs a butt head.
He will work a mule into the ground
Some people are like classical music. David is like jazz.
He hated poverty.
He’s as tenacious as bark on a tree.
He’s a huge provider and had your back.
He’s a boomer; he stood ready to kick the door in on poverty, social division and hatred.
David, If I may do the honor one more time and honor your request for me to translate what you have been saying.
Looking around this sanctuary
Love your neighbor as yourself
The highest form of giving is to give someone a job.
The tongue in your mouth and the tongue in your shoe are together and pointing in the same direction.
Your relationships is your wealth, your prosperity.
W.E.B Dubois once said “The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line”. This Sanctuary shows what one person can do in their own life to erase the lines of love, gender, ethnicity, thinking, spirituality, class and so on.
David I said all of that to say: I love you. You are my brother. Your work lives through me.
Please join AYE board Member David Abramson and his wife Ellen at their home for an evening of inspiring conversation that’s sure to uplift your spirits after the trials and tribulations of this election season.
David and AYE Board President Robert Cooper will be sharing their experiences of growing up poor white and poor black in America.
They will also share their journey to creating a powerful friendship which they dedicate to bridging the gulf between our communities.
Bridging the separation is the key to creating the world we all desire. Come and Join!
Date: Saturday January 28th 2017
Time: 5:30pm Veggie Potluck and 6:30pm (Conversation Begins)
Where: Abramson Learning Institute
Detroit Boyz Rock is an initiative of The Association for Youth Empowerment (AYE). This initiative is dedicated creating a world where young black men and boys are empowered to create a life of their own design. Through workshops, facilitated sessions and other transformational programs this initiative will support and empower our young men to create a life and community of their own design.
Looking for some younger brothers to work with to develop this proogram. Read More about it here:
Canton-based Yazaki North America, Inc., employees have been working for the last five months to volunteer their time to help the community — and that has led to donations to charity.
To recognize the employees’ hard work, the Yazaki Associate Volunteerism Council (AVC) donated $44,000 during an office-wide ceremony June 23 at the company’s Canton campus.
The money was raised by funds from casual jean Fridays, bake sales and merchandise sales, among other events.
This year’s organizations are involved in everything from making the world greener to bringing relief to people who are in need of basic necessities. Donations have been made to the following:
Alternatives For Girls (https://alternativesforgirls.org.).
The Association for Youth Empowerment (http://ayedetroit.org/).
Fleece and Thank You (http://fleeceandthankyou.org/).
Gleaners Community Food Bank (http://www.gcfb.org/).
The Greening of Detroit (http://www.greeningofdetroit.com/).
The National Neighborhood Properties Community Development Corporation (NNPCDC).
The NOAH Project (http://noahprojectdetroit.org/)
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) (https://www.nami.org/)
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul (http://www.svdpusa.org/)
Special Olympics Michigan (http://www.somi.org/)
The submission that won the first place prize of $8,000 was the NOAH (Networking, Organizing, and Advocating for the Homeless) Project – led by YNCA financial business planner Bill Drabing – to empower the low income and homeless in Detroit.
The NOAH Project, which operates a Community Center in downtown Detroit, offers lunch four days a week, one-on-one social services, physical health counseling, empowerment-based programming, and emergency needs to help strengthen family support systems locally.
Presiding as guest speaker of the Yazaki ceremony was Nigel Thompson, Yazaki North America president and CEO. He said he was impressed by the diversity of the projects and volunteers.
“In the process of building up our community, we build up each other and leave a lasting impression on the world around us,” said Nigel. “The AVC Charity Challenge highlighted the many needs in our communities. You, the volunteers, took time out of your busy schedules to come together and really make a lasting impression by helping others and the environment. And for that, I thank you.”
The board of the Association for Youth Empowerment (AYE) would like to thank and acknowledge Yazaki North America for their support of the April 12th Empowerment Zone Initiative with the topic: Breaking the Silence.
We were honored by your presence and we appreciate the support that Yazaki has shown to support AYE’s mission, which is to partner with community members and organizations who share a common goal of eliminating social oppression and fostering respect, acceptance and compassion in our schools and communities.
The intention of the event was for the kids to understand why “Breaking the Silence” is so important and also that they know that child abuse happens in all levels of society (rich and poor), any age and both boys and girls are abused.
The event met its intent, was very well attended and all had a great time that was both rewarding and fun! The support meant a lot as the kids were aware that they have the support of the community and that the community that is available to them is broader and bigger than what they see every day.
Specifically, we would like to thank the following people from Yazaki North America who came out to spend time with the young people:
Thanks so very much again and we look forward to partnering with Yazaki North America again in the future.
Prejudice, fear, hate. What we don’t know can hurt us, can hurt our children, can hurt our community. Distributing information can help. Creating understanding can heal.
On December 5, our community members have a unique opportunity to participate in a program designed to get us to look inside ourselves and listen to our neighbors. The day-long program is called Challenge Day. It was initially developed to facilitate dialogue within schools. But the December 5 Challenge Day has been created to facilitate dialogue across the lines that divide our community.
“The people in the city have a story about the people outside the city, and vice versa. You know what 8 mile represents, right?” says Jeff Gabrielson, who is involved in Bridging 8 Mile, an Association for Youth Empowerment (AYE) initiative that brings people of different backgrounds and social experiences together to realize a common humanity.
“We use tools such as Challenge Day to get them to get each other,” says Gabrielson. “We want to create a community where we truly get each other.”
“If you’re going to love your neighbors as yourself, without knowing your neighbors, how are you going to do that?” asks David Abramson, Gabrielson’s collaborator.
The two share a commitment to creating connections within the community, and several years ago set a goal to create a community building network.
One of his criteria for his own success, says Abramson, who lives in Ann Arbor, was “to be invited to a black person’s house for dinner. There are a lot of us who are disconnected in that way.” He achieved that level of connection within the community, and says “It’s really opened up the community in such a way that it feels like home. Now I can go to events in Detroit and see people we know. That was just hard work we needed to do.”
“To the extent that I know you, I can trust. To the extent that I can trust you, I can work with you. And the extent to which we can work together will determine our ability to make a difference,” says Abramson. “So, how do we get to know each other?”
Potlucks were a good atmosphere for get to know one another, says Gabrielson. “It’s low tech, but there’s something magical that happens when you break bread together. Everyone needs to eat. When you’re sitting across a table, you’re just another human being.”
Four years ago, the two began the Bridging 8 Mile effort with “lots and lots of meetings in living rooms with people,” said Gabrielson. “Our take away was that we needed a tool.”
Both had been involved in Challenge Day in schools, and decided to try it in a community setting. Since getting involved, they have been responsible for tens of thousands of kids going through the program.
“It’s the one tool we know helps in groups,” says Abramson.
The transformational school Challenge Days have been featured on television by Oprah Winfrey and Leeza Gibbons. Students share, confess, cry, connect, apologize, thank, hug and walk away with a far greater understanding of the thoughts, feelings, and challenges faced by their peers.
In the December 5 Community Challenge Day, Abramson and Gabrielson plan to bring together over 100 people, of different ethnic backgrounds, races and religions ~ most of whom are complete strangers to each other.
“By the end of the day, because of the groundbreaking nature of the Challenge Day, the attendees will experience community and the possibility of a new future for our region,” says Abramson.
“8 Mile for me is the 6 inches between my ears,” says Gabrielson. “It’s only my perception that gets in my way of connecting with another human being.”