Just Eggrolls

Upcoming South Side program aims to train youth for summer employment

With the help of some fresh vegetables, meat, and spices, Brenda Jones and Ayesha Abdulazeem are turning a neighborhood tradition into a large-scale youth empowerment program.

Abdulazeem, who goes by Sister Ayesha, developed a secret eggroll recipe more than 20 years ago. This summer, she has enlisted the help of longtime friend Brenda Jones to organize a professional development program for youth.

The program revolves around selling the eggrolls door to door. The program will teach young people aged 14 to 21 the skills of running a small food service business. Students will participate in a three-week training program to learn about marketing, sales and food preparation.

“A lot of times people talk about things that need to be done and just sit back and complain. But I’m a doer and a pioneer. Why wait and sit for someone else to do something that I can do, with 100 percent accuracy?” Jones said.

The eggrolls, with names like “The Truth” and “Fire-Fightin’ Jimmie Mac,” are sold by the dozen and have become a community favorite. Sister Ayesha originally made the eggrolls fresh to order in her kitchen, but now that the program is expanding, a local restaurant owner has offered the use of his kitchen facilities to the cause.

The two have plans to grow the vegetables themselves, too.

Jones believes that there is a need to employ the youth in the city of Syracuse.

“You can just ride around after school hours and see the youth on the corners with nothing to do. But no matter what, if you go up to them, share an idea with them, they have that interest,” she said.

“But people are not approaching them or providing those programs.”

“We’re going to do something that jobs don’t do,” Sister Ayesha said. “We deal with the whole person.”

Those interested in Just Eggrolls’ Youth Empowerment Program should attend one of the summits on April 10 and 11 at the Metro-Harvest Assembly of God Church. For more information, call Sister Ayesha at (315) 378-4076 or Ms. Brenda at (315) 412-4362