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Amin David

Amin David was born in the city of Chihuahua, capital of the state of Chihuahua, Mexico. The city motto is: Bravery, Loyalty, Hospitality. Amin David is synonymous with those three virtues and more, which he has risen during his lifetime, leaving an invaluable legacy for our county and humanity.

 

Orange County has been blessed by the thirst for justice and equality of a brave and generous Amin David, who has dedicated his life to protect the weakest, correct brutal mistakes, face without hesitation the biggest and most indestructible, with the certainty and determination that defending the dignity and human rights of his wounded community, it would help the county to have more self-confident individuals that also contribute their full potential without fear. Amin David is the champion among champions on the Latino causes.

 

Amin David has two older sisters and a younger one. His father was dentist and his mother was devoted to serve and care for his family. Some time later they divorced, his father moved his practice to Juárez where he settles; the four children are with their mother. Later his father requests to take Amin to live with him in Juárez.

 

Did you communicate with your Mom?

Always! With her and my sisters. From the day we arrived in Juárez , Dad made me call her and she came to see me often; I sat on her lap, she hugged me and we talked much, much. My father was Syrian-Lebanese, very strict, that was one of the reasons why they divorced. It was a difficult time for me, I felt very sad because I needed much Mom. We stayed in Juárez for one or two years.

 

His father had great political influence in Mexico, plus he was very clever. Among his innovations, he created translucent false teeth, and also tried to interest the military of the United States with the design of a minesweeper.

 

Were there many people of this descent in Chihuahua?

Yes, my Dad and his family belonged to a Syrian-Lebanese community very closed. In the eyes of this community Dad made the serious mistake of marrying a Mexican, this was not allowed. They were very difficult and hard times but a very valuable experience for my development as a person. My wife and I have more than 50 years of marriage, have formed a very strong union, we set out to never cause any pain to our children.

 

During World War II his father feels very insecure in Mexico and resolves to emigrate to the United States. When we moved there, we traveled through different cities in the country. My dad could not practice as dentist because he had to go to school to revalidate his degree; he was older so he devoted himself to the commercial trade and we lived on that. We lived in El Paso, then in Houston. Already living there, the relationship between my parents was improving and reducing our pain. I usually spent my summer vacations with mother and my sisters came to spend it with me. Then we moved to Sacramento where I graduated from Sacramento High School. There, I was recruited by the Army in 1953 for the war with Korea and I became a naturalized citizen in November, said Amin David.

 

For the Korea War?

Yes, we were many, we were trained in infantry, ready to go to Korea; they had given us the order to report to an army base, we had seven days to visit the family and say goodbye, and the war ends! So I completed my two years in Washington, which was a great experience.

 

When Amin lives in Sacramento, his mother emigrated to the United States, set out in East Los Angeles. After serving in the Army, he enters school under the G.I. Bill of Rights, very positive experience, and that prompts him to continue his studies. Attends the University of Arizona in Tucson and works at night in the Southern Pacific Railroad. Then he returns to live with his mother in East Los Angeles, and decides to follow his father’s career, dentist, but “I came across chemistry which I could not pass, then I started classes to be a teacher, and did not like it because I had to read books on psychology, that were 500 pages long and without any pictures!”, he says fun. Amin opts for business classes, he loves it and gets excellent grades. He studied at night and during the day he worked in the administration of Wiggins, Inc., an aerospace factory.

Then his father retires and settles in El Paso, Texas. His sisters lived in Juárez, they achieved a very good relationship with him and shared time together. His father died there, of more than 90 years old; he had a very healthy but lonely life.

When do you meet your wife?

I met Irene when I was taking business classes at Cal State Los Angeles. She was not a student there but we met at a Latino club in East Los Angeles, where we used to get together to have some fun. We dated for some time and then we got married and live in the area for two years. We then moved to Rosemead in Los Angeles.

 

The family grew with the arrival of three children. Amin travels daily to Orange County to work, so they resolved to buy a house in the city of Anaheim. They have lived there for 40 years now.

 

Something very strange happened when I was in the University of Tucson; I met many people from Mexico, one in particular, he was very nice, came from a well-known family of Monterrey, and we started to think what would we do when we finished school. “I can make terrazzo tiles in Monterrey, and you could sell them in the US”, he said. So back in Monterrey, he setup his factory, and I open my business, Regal Products, in 1966 in Orange County and I become his agent in the United States. It went very well, said Amin David. “We left the tiles business, because after several years Italy entered the market with its beautiful marbles and ceramic tiles, and people’s likes change. Then I chose to distribute spares plumbing, very positive change for the evolution of the business. Imperial Products is its name. I still do much business with Mexico, with the plumbing but also distribute other artifacts”, concludes.

 

Tell us about your children.

The oldest is Lisa Marie; it follows Amin Hector and then is David Andres, and by God’s blessing, after 17 years comes a girl, Christina Maura.

 

Who’s your children will continue with your company?

You can see that Christina is interested in getting involved here. My oldest daughter, Lisa, lives in San Francisco, she is an environmentalist, graduated from Fullerton University; my son Amin H. is a constructor, and lives near us. He’s not an office guy, that’s why he works outdoors. Then David, he was involved in the business for many years, and decided to cut the umbilical cord and search by his own means. Now he’s doing that, with companies that have to do with plumbing. Christina is still working at Disneyland. She, like her older sister, completed college, the boys did not. She is going to take the reins of this business soon, because it is time, as I did with Los Amigos, it is time that I stop my race.

Amin was already a recognized Latino activist when he moved to Anaheim in 1973, and was immediately invited to join the Board of the Orange County Human Relations Commission. He worked very closely with the members of the community who had been treated brutally. With his participation and working with the Mayor at the time, W.J. Bill Thom, and the City Hall, the Commission was able to adopt major policy changes within the Anaheim Police Department. “Even the complaint form to the police should be written in English and Spanish and delivered to who so requested. These forms are now available at public libraries”, said Amin satisfied.

Amin has been key to awareness officers on Latino culture so that they understand some of their reactions, such as why a Latino looks down in front of an officer – he does it not for insolence but out of respect.

 

Amin David has always made sure, using his charm and delicacy, that legislators and public forces pay attention to Latino affairs, although often confronting them harshly.

 

Amin David was the first Latino appointed as Planning Commissioner for the City of Anaheim in 1977.

As a business person, he had a good relationship with the Mayor of Anaheim, Bill Thom, whose affinity with the Latinos was notorious. He already died; he was married to a Latina from Guadalajara. Amin became good friends with the Mayor, and through him and his political force, Thom began to appoint many Latinos as Commissioners, members of committees; Mexican names shone in prominent positions in the city. Bill Thom discovered the treasure of having Latinos in his city. One day they decided to honor him with a “Thanksgiving Night”

 

Why is Los Amigos of Orange County created?

The “Thanksgiving Night” was attended by about 400 people who wished to show the gratitude felt for him. Unexpectedly, Mr. Thom said in his speech, “If you want to truly thank me, the best way to do so would be to continue meeting every Wednesday and take action on important issues affecting Latinos in Orange County”.

“That was a challenge”, said Amin David. So we created Los Amigos of Anaheim immediately, and we religiously have met every Wednesday at 7:30 am, since 1978. Every Wednesday, legislators, business owners, teachers, professionals and community members gather to share a breakfast and raise all kinds of issues affecting the Latino community. We have changed the name and place, now we are Los Amigos of Orange County, due to the number of people coming from many places, approximately 50; we have a huge list of members and we have been meeting at ease from some time now, at the “Jagerhaus Restaurant” in Anaheim. Our motto remains intact: we like to help. We gather to help. Thus, it began this train so wonderful 34 years ago, and the only Wednesday we do not meet is when it falls on Christmas or New Year’s. “Wether it rains or thunders, on Wednesdays we are there”, says Amin David.

 

“Amin can’t be bought off, scared off or pushed off. He’s an advocate for human rights and human dignity in the Latino community and he believes in it like he believes in his religion–deeply”. Bill Thom, a founding member of Los Amigos and former Mayor of Anaheim.

 

What is the formula for the success of Los Amigos?

There are no quotas, there is no bureaucracy, I have served as the moderator, I put my signature in letters, my address, giving it its unique structure. I chose to be the one that signs and answers for everything, because I was the less vulnerable. If there were any retribution from someone who wanted to harm us -because we have very strong opinions defending Latinos-, I do not have a boss that may affect my business, and I am well protected. The body is the one that directs where we are going and what we do; people arrive with a problem or to ask for help and in the group there’s always someone that knows what they can do.

 

What would be the biggest conquest Los Amigos has achieved?

Latinos’ relationship with police departments. In the history of Los Amigos, a time came where the friction, the antagonism reached the highest level between the Anaheim Police Department and us, to the extent there was an inquisition made by the city against four of us, saying things not appropriate, even that we were gansters. We had to go to court and thanks to a high-ranking lawyer we won, and they gave us an award. Since then, I can walk in the offices of the police department as another Chief. That was the highest work we did, causing a profound affect that still continues. Precisely tomorrow, the Chief of Police, John Welter, comes to visit; he is very proud of being a member of Los Amigos, he is a great person.

 

In some of the heavy confrontations between Los Amigos and authorities, some of his partners recognized that his style sometimes was somewhat despotic, but uniformly admired his honesty and efficiency and consider him until today, the champion among champions on the Latino causes.

 

“Last year Los Amigos had the first function, “Thanksgiving Night”, and we awarded three medals, one at Galal Kernahan for all he has done, he truly is an angel; Teresa Mercado Cota, tireless promoter of education, and Allen Baldwin, director of OC Community Housing Corp., wonderful person. People come to Los Amigos that have no place to live and he through his organization, finds a place”, said Amin David.

 

“He is outgoing, considerate, interested in others and prepared to help them to help others and themselves. . . all phrases in English that might be tranlated PARA TODOS.

After several decades of close observation, I am convinced Amin is one

of the most gifted enablers I have ever seen. It is the you-can-do-it spirit

with which he has embued the weekly Anaheim breakfast gatherings of

LOS AMIGOS“. Galal Kernahan, founder of KinderCaminata in Orange County

 

When it’s decided that José Moreno will take the reins of Los Amigos?

Last year I thought that I should reduce my speed. I already started to give closure to Board and commissions where I served, but the biggest challenge was Los Amigos. What do we do with Los Amigos? I was wondering. One day I’m gone, and that matters, it has so much history, it deserves everything that can be given to it. I met with three, four people I trust and asked for their opinion. The name of José Moreno came up.

 

Was he an assiduous attendee to the meetings?

Look at this: when he was at UCI he was very young, he was part of MECHA and he was already coming to Los Amigos. And this gentleman prominent professor, studied and graduated from Harvard with honors, a tremendous mind, but as tremendous is his mentality as big he has his heart. He was also an emigrant and accounts history that when little, he attended school with fear. The first thing he learned to say is that he was born here, in case they asked him. We focused on him, we did something very important, we convinced his wife first, because it is a very big responsibility. He does not know how to say no, and we wanted her to be the one to decide. The ritual that we have for each new attendee to become member of Los Amigos is to give a brief description of who he or she is, in a few minutes. After the introductions, comes José and takes command of the rest of the meeting, he is the leader. In this new stage, in which enters José, we adopt a more formal way, we created the Committee of Education Lo Amigos, because one of its missions is education. Dr. Richard Ramirez, who holds a doctorate and was Dean of Fullerton College for 38 years, heads this Committee, and he has done a tremendous job. It is incredible that a small organization, with a flexible structure that does not limit, and has no hidden agendas, is so positively impacting an entire community.

 

What should do that young man who is interested in being part of the Committee?

Attend the breakfast and ask Richard what to do. We meet every Wednesday at 7:30 am, at Jagerhaus Restaurant in Anaheim, 2525 E. Ball Rd., CA. 92806.

 

Los Amigos motto is ‘we like to help’. The one who knows makes himself available to the one that has a need. Desperate people come, and among the fifty people who are there, someone has the solution. If someone needs money, there is a basket, and we pass it, we do not have a treasury department, it has been the reason we exist for 34 years, there is no money in between, there are no questions. The value of man, the person is what Los Amigos care about”, says proud Amin.

 

You’ve created a successful formula, Amin!

And it is so strong and important that people keep on coming, and already two more were created: Los Amigos of Santa Ana, Spanish-speaking, they meet on Thursdays under the guidance of Dr. Guadalupe Mata, and another in La Habra, directed by Rose Espinoza, County Supervisor.

 

Are these two groups supervised by Los Amigos of Orange County?

No! They are independent, they come and ask for advice, but are autonomous, as long as they followed the slogan “we like to help” and never charged for the service provided. It is the key to success. This is the only reason for which is going to continue.

 

“It has been many years since I first met Amin, and he always has been the same Amin, dedicated with passion to the community, supporting those in need, and fighting against all injustice. Amin is leader of leaders; Amin is a synonym of fortitude and dignity” Dr. Ana Nogales

 

Today, Orange County feels more secure. Now, it enjoys the successful conquests achieved by someone generous and courageous; it transits now the route which Amin David bequeathed it, and it will continue providing his guide from a different latitude.

 

www.losamigosoc.com

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