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Jared Gajos - A Study in Commitment

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Jared Gajos

While Mom was working at the hospital, most evenings Dad loaded Jared and his two sisters in the car for his evening rounds. Jared and his sisters weren’t very old – just children. A welder by trade, Dad hadn’t worked a steady job in a long time. Instead, he chose to drive to places – sometimes far-away places – sometimes nondescript offices they had never seen before, sometimes wooded areas; the places were different, but the secrecy was always the same. And, whatever his dad was doing, Jared knew it didn’t have anything to do with welding. Jared and his sisters resented being relegated to the car for hours every evening rather than playing with their friends. They didn’t understand why they couldn’t engage in the activities the other kids in their Hazel Park neighborhood enjoyed. Instead, they were trapped in that car, night after night. 

Later, Jared came to understand that his father had a substance abuse problem. A problem that finally landed him in jail. Jared also came to understand in his early professional years, that chances favored that he would follow in his father’s footsteps. But he didn’t. Instead, Jared worked hard at school. He ended up at Michigan State University with financial and mentoring support from the Hazel Park Promise Zone, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 2017, majoring in in International Relations with minors in French and International Peace and Justice Studies. 

After graduation, Jared returned home to Hazel Park, beginning his career with part time assignments at the city of Hazel Park and at Hazel Park Schools where he led a school-based program in partnership with the Hazel Park Community Coalition, part of the Alliance of Coalitions for Healthy Communities. As Jared’s professional career grew, the part-time position with the city grew into a full-time opportunity in Human Resources. He took a Master of Studies in Law degree with a focus on human resources from Wayne Law. He gave up the position with the school system, but continued his relationship with the Alliance because he was convinced that the work was both meaningful and impactful. 

Today, Jared is the newly appointed Vice Chair of the Alliance Board of Directors. He also chairs the Fund Development Sector for the Alliance. Says Gajos, “I became aware of the impact of the Alliance’s work when we at the Hazel Park Coalition were partnering with the Ferndale Coalition to deliver educational programs to high school kids on the risks of vaping. Because of the content of the presentation, the kids were engaged and asked scores of questions. I thought that the in-person presentation had much to do with it. But, for whatever reason, the kids were engaged enough that I came away with the sense that we had made an impression, that the information was impactful.” 

It is the educational part of the prevention mission that resonates most strongly with Jared. He believes that by building trust among all 21 coalition members, that the synergy he witnessed in the single partnership between Ferndale and Hazel Park can be greatly expanded. 

Gajos states, “I have been with this group in different capacities for seven years. It is surreal to reflect on where this journey has taken me. I’m excited to share my ideas with the group as the new Vice Chair for the Board and see how much further we can go even in our twentieth year of providing collaboration, prevention, and results in Oakland County.”