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AYE Connection Central 12/4/2016

We are Creating the Beloved Community

Email rcooper@ayedetroit.org

Visit: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/calling-forth-the-beloved-community-tickets-29503727443

AYE Invites you to:

  • Break Bread with New Friends
  • Share Your Story
  • Be Acknowledged
  • Experience a Community Transformed

Come join us!

Date: Sunday, 12/4/16
Location: Church of the Messiah
Address: 231 E. Grand Blvd, Detroit. MI 28207
Time: 2:30 – 5:00 pm


Cost: Free of Charge


Yazaki volunteer group donates $44K to charity

Hometown Life
6:40 p.m. EDT July 22, 2016

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/).
  • Make-A-Wish (http://wish.org/).
  • 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/)
  • Sikhcess (http://www.sikhcess.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.”

Thanks to Yazaki North America


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:

  • Gabrielle Collier
  • Dennis Maxwell
  • Andrew Romain
  • Divya Chadha
  • Nawal Denard
  • Stacey Cole

Yazaki Support Pic

Thanks so very much again and we look forward to partnering with Yazaki North America again in the future.

Thanks Again from the AYE Board!

  • Robert Cooper – President
  • Jeff Gabrielson – Vice President
  • Roderic Scott – Treasurer
  • Jennifer Young, Secretary
  • David Abramson – Board Member
  • Charles C. Primas – Board Member

Pair Promotes Challenge Day



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.”

For program registration, click here.

December 5th Challenge Day

Let Us Be A Part of Change!

We  request that you support the upcoming Community Challenge Day being sponsored by the coalition of AYE (the Association for Youth Empowerment), DION (Detroit Interfaith Outreach Network) and BDYM (the Better Detroit Youth Movement).

Here’s the deal … On December 5, 2015, we will bring together 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, attendees will experience community AND the possibility of a new future for our region.

We say that overcoming the separation AND BREAKING DOWN THE STEREOTYPES is the first step in experiencing our neighbors as ourselves ~ which we say is the key to making Detroit the city of our dreams. Challenge Days break down stereotypes!

Please join us! Registering to attend the Challenge Day on December 5th is easy. Just click here.

If you can’t join us, please donate to support out efforts. Just click here.

Here are 3 video clips that share the impact of Challenge Day. Leeza Gibbons’ and Marianne Williamson’s videos are less than 3 minutes long and Oprah’s is 8 minutes long.

Please check out one – or all – of the videos, and then follow your heart.
Leeza Gibbons / Teen Files ~
Oprah and MTV Endorse Challenge Day ~
Marianne Williamson endorsing Challenge Day ~

Please call Pandy Kemp at 313-492-7702 or David Abramson at 734-646-2274 if you have any questions. We will be happy to answer them.

Thank you very much! It’s an honor and privilege to serve the community with you

AYE Seeking Volunteer Assistance

Dear AYE Friends,

Thanks to the active participation of our AYE community, we’re growing our programs, projects and activities at breakneck speeds – through Community Challenge Days, Prosperity Year Gatherings, Dave Ramsey’s Core Financial Wellness classes and other transformational growth and development programs. To fully make the opportunity and possibility of our work available to our metro Detroit community, we’re seeking your assistance.

The Association for Youth Empowerment is looking for part-time volunteer assistance with organizing and tracking our many projects and activities. The commitment you make is to getting more out of it than you put into it.

To learn more about this training and development opportunity, please contact AYE Board President, Robert Cooper, at (313) 510-3770.

Best regards,


AYE Board Secretary

AYE is dedicated to challenging and empowering young people to create the Beloved Community. We partner with community leaders and organizations who share a common purpose of recognizing social oppression and fostering respect, acceptance and compassion in our families, schools and communities.


aye logo sunburst (1)

AYE Community Potluck February 13th 2015



Hello Friends and Family of AYE,

You’re invited to join friends and family of the Association for Youth Empowerment for a community potluck on Friday, Feb. 13th. Our Community Potluck is an occasion for us to to come together and share joys, challenges, music making and whatever else evolves!

All are welcome – young and old alike. Bring yourself, a friend, a neighbor, a dish to share, an instrument or a song to perform.

AYE Community Potluck

Friday, Feb. 13

6:30 pm – 9:30 pm

Bushnell Congregational Church

1500 Southfield Fwy, Detroit, MI 48223
AYE Community Potluck



The Craig Fahle Show: “Bridging 8 Mile” to Hold Challenge Days this Weekend


 Bridging 8 Mile is an organization that seeks to unite the people who live on either side of Detroit’s city limits. In their vision statement on their website it says, “it is common for whites to view members of the black community as ‘the other;’ dangerous, untrustworthy, and ‘less than.’ It is common for the black community to view whites as, uncaring, untrustworthy, and hostile.”The organizations goal is to conquer this divide through structured events like the “Challenge Days” coming up this weekend.

In this segment we hear from three members of Metro Detroit who appear to be bridging the divide: David Abramson, Robert Cooper, and Rasheda Williams.


Click on the above audio player to listen and add your comments below.




Jeff Gabrielson

From a young age Jeff understood the power of community. Being one of six children and raised by parents whose top priority was family, he learned that together we can overcome anything and achieve what we desire. As a father of three, Jeff knows full well the challenges of raising children in today’s world.

In 1999, Jeff became aware of Challenge Day, flew to California to experience the program and then began the process of building a team to share the program. In partnership with a group of local volunteers they introduced Challenge Day throughout the Midwest and Ontario, Canada.

Over a decade ago, he made a decision to live his life with an open heart and to fully express himself by following his passion. As a result, Jeff trained as a Challenge Day Leader. Most recently he competed in and fulfilled a lifelong dream of completing an Ironman Triathlon (August 2013).

As a small business entrepreneur, Jeff models the principles of honesty and integrity as core values. One of his greatest passions in life is being a connector of people and organizations to the resources they desire.

He lives with his wife Gigi and children in Metropolitan Detroit, MI.