April 8th was previously declared Erica Ford Day in New York City by former Mayor Bill de Blasio, and she is being celebrated this coming April 8th in honor of the work she continues to do in violence intervention. Ms. Ford is the founder of LIFE (Love Ignites Freedom through Education) Camp, which was started by the widely-respected peacemaker to aid urban youth in Queens and across the country. LIFE Camp's official site states that through its groundbreaking programs, Ms. Ford has empowered thousands of individuals and families to break the cycle of violence and promote peace. Her programs for increasing safety—including counseling, mentorship, job training, and community events aimed at fostering greater understanding and cooperation among residents—have been adopted and implemented by New York City, resulting in a 10% reduction in violence citywide.
Ms. Ford, who was previously honored on our site during Black Writers Week, told us, "I co-founded LIFE Camp because the number of funerals I was attending for young people made me think there HAD to be something else. There had to be another way… Gun violence is not a problem that is specific to one neighborhood, city or state. Gun violence has permeated our national conscience. It is a disease that is spreading and needs to be stopped. I believe it’s imperative that we attempt to understand people on both sides of the pistol. They both need our help, because hurt people hurt people. This is the philosophy of LIFE Camp and this is why we have been able to stop so many potentially violent situations."
Erica Ford Day will be celebrated on April 8th at 4pm at Occasions Banquet Hall, 127-08 Merrick Boulevard, Jamaica, NY. You can RSVP for the event here.