Making a Difference: Betty Pulliam, Freddy Payne

For decades, two women have been running a school that helps students launch their careers.
For decades, two women have been running a school that helps students launch their careers.

DETROIT – Forty years ago, two women, Betty Pulliam and Freddy Payne, created a plan of developing an educational employment and preparation school that would provide training, education and connection to employment possibilities for young folks in Detroit. 

Recently, Pulliam and Payne celebrated their 40th Anniversary at the Roostertail. It goes without saying that the last 40 years did not go without challenges, but through it all, the duo has not only survived, they also continue to accomplish their goal.

The Payne Pulliam School is located just north of downtown Detroit. 

"Freddy and I have always tried to keep our eye on the ball, educating our youth and motivating them to accomplish goals that they set for their lives," said Pulliam, who is president of the school. 

Pulliam recognizes that with adversity comes growth -- "For we all will be tested, and it is how you respond to life's tests that determine your levels of success," she said.

Over the years, Payne Pulliam School has had to adjust its curriculum and educational modules so that the students will be prepared to compete in a global market that is ever transforming through the advancement of technology.

The students that come to Payne Pulliam are on some type of social assistance. The different educational components vary from six to nine weeks. They are also taught 'soft skills' that allow them to understand and utilize social skills of communicating and uplifting proper attitudes within the workplace. 

At an Employment and Educational Conference at the downtown Double Tree Hotel, more than 200 of their students gathered to hear motivational speakers, along with connecting with corporations and potential employers through breakout sessions.

"Not only do we have to provide formal education and training, we must also be aware that some of our students need emotional support," said Payne, who is also vice president of the school. "Some of them have experienced many disappointments throughout their lives. We have to let them know that whatever they have been through, they have to use that as a stepping stone to move up. Every now and then a little hug will go a long way."

Pulliam joyfully stated her age of 72 and that these years have been granted to her from the Lord to serve.

Payne did not state her age but said, "I don't think I'll be here another 40 years, but I am grateful for what we've been able to accomplish during the past 40 years. We have changed the lives of countless individuals."

These two women are definitely everyday heroes who are making a difference.

On a daily basis, in spite of ones life's struggles and challenges, there are some people who reach out and make a positive impact on the lives of others.

That is why Local 4 and a prominent local clergyman, Rev. V. Lonnie Peek, Jr. have teamed up to find those people and tell their stories.

Do you know an everyday hero in your life? E-mail us and tell us about them. 

About Rev. Lonnie Peek, Jr.

Rev. V. Lonnie Peek, Jr. located in Detroit in 1975. After teaching 2 years in DPS, he went to WSU receiving a Masters of Social Work, an activist on campus he created the Association of Black Students. He is an entrepreneur and serves on such civic boards as New Detroit, Inc, Detroit Riverfront Conservancy and the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation. With extensive radio background expanding 25 years, he writes a weekly column for the Michigan Chronicle. He has been a regular on local/ national television shows dealing with political and social issues An ordained minister and seminary graduate, he serves on the executive committee and is the public relations chairman for the Council of Baptist Pastors of Detroit and Vicinity and is Assistant Pastor at Greater Christ Baptist Church.