Avalon’s 3 Bottom Lines- Earth, Community, Employees- are both our path and our destination. Sometimes, in the pressure to solve problems and create a healthy business, it is easy to forget the impact that we have had throughout the years on the community around us. One of my Detroit heros, Detroit Boxing Gym Director Jesica Hauser, recently reminded me of one such success story. I hope that you will join us in supporting Detroit Boxing Gyms great work and take pride in something that, as an Avalon customer, who have helped to succeed as well.
We’ve come a long way since 2006 when founder Coach Khali opened the doors on St. Aubin Street. He started the gym in his childhood community as a safe haven for kids to come after school, using his life savings to convert a former car wash into a training facility. When the gym started growing with the neighborhood kids stopping by on a regular basis for training and homework help, we soon had a team that quickly developed a formidable reputation as winners. At that time, the team was sharing uniforms – until Avalon Breads stepped into the ring to help.
One of the first Detroit companies to sponsor a tiny little gym with big ideas, Avalon gave us great hope that we had a future in helping Detroit kids. Jackie and Ann bought us uniforms so the kids could have their own at tournaments. Lesley helped us bake shortcakes to sell as a fundraiser. They hired one of our champions to work in the bakery, giving him his first taste of work experience. And we couldn’t be more grateful.
AJ grew up in Downtown Boxing Gym. He came to us as a shy, 8-year-old boy, who wanted something to do after school. Khali took him in, mentored and coached him, made sure he had academic tutoring after school, and helped him discover his own dream of becoming an attorney. AJ became a champion. He won national titles, he holds the Olympic record for the most jabs set in the trials. He is now in college, studying pre-law, and he returns to the gym not only for training, but also to be a mentor to the younger students who are actively involved in the Youth Program. He was the student Avalon hired – the exception to their rule – and gave him valuable work experience. He still wears their uniform when he competes.
Today, we consider ourselves very lucky. We gained nonprofit status in 2011 and have since developed an organization with a vibrant and active board. We’ve had national exposure about our program – from NBC Nightly News and Chelsea Clinton, to Madonna’s Ray of Light Foundation giving us money towards a new facility. Other companies and organizations are finding ways to support Downtown Boxing Gym, and we appreciate every bit of help we can get to make sure our kids graduate high school. Avalon Bakery holds a special place in our hearts because they gave us the hope that we could be something more and that our kids were worth the investment. Like the first dollar a business receives the day they open, our relationship with Avalon symbolizes that dedication, hard work, and perseverance can open more doors to success. We appreciate that the owners of Avalon still live their own mission of Eat Well. Do Good.
Downtown Boxing Gym is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that develops good citizenship in urban youth through a demanding boxing program in addition to strong academic support and a connection to the community through voluntary service. To date, 100% of our participating students have graduated high school, and 94% of them are in college. For more information about Downtown Boxing Gym’s Youth Program, visit www.downtownyouthboxing.org, like us on Facebook or Twitter