Reimagining Work: Pingree Detroit's Origin Story
Reimagining Work: A community conversation with our Co-founder and CEO, Jarret Alan Schlaff.
Detroit, MI - For as long as I can remember I have met too many hard working people who wanted meaningful, good paying work, and couldn't find it. That's unacceptable, especially in America, and especially when that's the case for Veterans. So in the Fall of 2014 when I met driven yet unemployed veterans living in my neighborhood in Detroit, I felt called to do something about it.
There was this vivid moment in the Fall of 2014 that sling shot me from a passive observer of the problems I was seeing, to an active participant in seeing how I could help. I was expressing my frustrations to a friend and mentor about this situation I was witnessing in my neighborhood and I remember saying, “someone should do something about this” - and before the full sentence was off my lips, it was as if my entire being was buzzing, everything was quiet, except for a loud voice inside my head sarcastically saying, “Oh really, somebody should do something?” I knew, at this moment, with all my heart, this was the answer to my prayers for purpose and I was going to choose curiosity over comfort. That same night after I wrapped up my duties for my job working as the Midwest Director for a non-profit, my work began.
Folks, especially the Veterans we were meeting, told us they wanted to work with their hands, make their neighborhoods stronger, and be part of a purpose driven environment again while making enough money to care for their family. It became clear we could do something about this gap between the provision of basic needs and work that made a difference. So instead of a fundraiser like we initially thought would be the outcome- we found ourselves exploring how we could reimagine and create this kind of work in Detroit. This was one of those, “throw your hat over the fence so you have to go get it moments” and without much savings, without any experience starting or running a business, but with passion and drive for days, I decided I had the power to do something about this. These conversations and faith that anything is possible is why Pingree Detroit came into being.