OAKLAND (KPIX 5) Many young men might shy away from wearing a tie, especially to school. But this week's Jefferson Award winner is sending a message that not only is wearing a tie cool, it can be the key to success.
On KBLX radio, Armand Carr talks the talk as a DJ. To young men in the East Bay, he walks the walk. Carr moved home to Oakland a couple years ago and found young men in his community needed to hear something:
"They need to be reminded that they are someone!" he said.
So a year ago, he started gather donated ties and formed the non-profit "All Tied Up." He targets 13 to 21-year-olds. Each young man gets a tie, a lesson in how to tie it, a grooming kit, and a mentor.
"It's a symbol of strength," said Castlemont High School freshman Rodney Robinson. "You take pride in how you look and how you carry yourself."
"I wasn't really familiar with how to tie a tie, how to wear a tie. I didn't really know much about that," added fellow freshman Hassan Jackson.
Youth Uprising Director of Community Leadership Melvin Cowan said it's something so simple, but:
"But you can see the transformation that happens with a young person the moment they learn to do it for themselves."
Volunteer Roderick Jefferson said more voices are needed.
"We need other folks beyond Armand, more folks like him that are willing to come back - whether it's someone with celebrity status or some that's just concerned about the community, in order to move forward and find positivity we have to bring it to the community," he explained.
Carr has already reached as many as 1000 young men in the East Bay and wants to expand throughout the Bay Area, and even across California and the U.S. He also has plans for a Moms and Ties Workshop so mothers can help their sons learn to tie a tie.
Still, it's about more than a tie.
"This here is the key to getting through that door a lot of times," Carr told the young men, waving a tie. "But it's also your attitude. If you have the attitude behind this, nobody can stop you."
Fourteen-year-old Jackson said it best:
"If you go into life without none of these tools you could be unsuccessful, you could fail. I know I don't like to fail so why not learn it now so you don't have to fail in the future?"
"They have to be able to look in the mirror and say 'Hey, you're going to do this today! I love you! Let's make this happen!'" Carr added.
So for providing leadership, mentoring, and yes, a tie, to young men in the East Bay, this week's Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Armand
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