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A Michigan woodworking company is “reclaiming trees and lives” with ex-felon mentorship program

Andrew Kreszewski (left) and Rob Richmond (right) in front of a brick wall
Mercedes Mejia
Michigan Radio
Andrew Kreszewski (left) and Rob Richmond (right) work for Urban Ashes, which runs on the motto: "Reclaiming trees and lives."


There are any number of custom design and fabrication companies, but Urban Ashes is different: It's the only one with the motto "reclaiming trees and lives."  

The Saline company makes a wide array of items for businesses and homes out of wood carefully salvaged from abandoned homes and businesses in the Detroit area.


That once-forgotten wood is then crafted by a once-forgotten workforce: ex-offenders and young people who are close to falling into that path that leads to jail or prison. 


Paul Hickman, the founder, president, and CEO of Urban Ashes, joined Stateside to talk about the project. 


Hickman explained how the idea came together to pair his woodworking business with a mentorship program, what kind of response he's been hearing from employees, and what he would like other employers to know about hiring people returning to society. 


Rob Richmond, a production manager and a mentor to younger workers, along with Andrew Kreszewski, a production worker and one of the younger team members being mentored, also joined Stateside to share what the program has been like for them. 


They talked about what their lives were like before coming to Urban Ashes, how their relationship has grown, as well as what their futures look like now.


Listen above for the full conversation. 


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