Job fair offers second chances to returning citizens looking for fresh starts in Detroit

‘We serve the hard-to-serve population, and we take pride in that’

DETROITDetroit held a job fair in August for those incarcerated or released and looking for a fresh start and returning citizens are making their mark all across the city.

On Rohns Street, that work includes clearing the abandoned house so it can be something else again.

“We serve the hard-to-serve population, and we take pride in that,” said William Aaron of Emerging Industries Training Institute.

Aaron’s crew helps turn blighted properties into safer spaces, and since 2013, his company has been helping people, some previously incarcerated, develop the skills they need to build a better life.

For Aaron, it’s a labor of love.

“It’s all about giving someone grace,” Aaron said. “They’ve already done their time, and coming home, they deserve a chance to become a citizen, a productive citizen in the city of Detroit.”

The houses that end up on EITI’s work list come from the city, which has made an extra effort to hire returning citizens.

“I feel like we owe that to them, to allow to be able to allow them that opportunity to come in and give them background and foundation to be successful,” said LaJuan Counts of Detroit Demolition Dept.

Gino Solomon, a supervisor overseeing carpentry and structural crews across the city, got his start as a building trade worker after his release.

“It was a rocky start,” said Solomon. “I started to see a different vision of my life. Once I realized who I really could be and my true talents, I pursued it.”

Solomon and his crew did maintenance on a fire station Monday (Nov. 21), ensuring the doors were ready to roll as soon as firefighters responding to their next call were.

He says he’s so proud of the work he’s doing now and hopes other returning citizens will see their potential through him.

“Even though life may start off rocky for you, you can always turn it around, you can always turn it around, and I think I’m a living example of that,” Solomon said.

Click here to find more information on that training program.

About the Authors:

Pamela Osborne is thrilled to be back home at the station she grew up watching! You can watch her on Local 4 News Sundays and weeknights. Pamela joined the WDIV News Team in February 2022, after working at stations in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.