NewsBlack History Month

Human Fliers is a grassroots company grown through mentorship and teaching business skills to youth

Posted at 5:57 PM, Feb 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-01 06:27:44-05

DETROIT (WXYZ) — “I was a knucklehead. I grew up in a pretty rough environment. I adapted to that environment and became it, ended up in prison and so now I look to catch young guys who are how I was and give them that direction that I didn't get,” said Vaughn Arrington.

You could say that in order to make history, you must make changes for the future.

WXYZ’s Glenda Lewis asked, “What was the turning point for you?”

“It was being in prison. I had time to think about who I had become and why. Why am I in this cell, this means something why do I need to be locked away from everyone else. So, I just did some introspection," said Arrington.

Since his decade stint in prison. Vaughn Arrington has been working to transform the hearts and minds of young people in this east side neighborhood by exposing them to business sense... and brotherhood.

“I started a youth block club here and I ran into Adonis. Adonis was slanging candy at the ATM,” said Arrington. “I started a relationship with him that turned into a landscaping business plan he was 10 years old at the time, he is 18 today.”

“So, when Vaughn came into the picture, he taught me about entrepreneurship and how to be successful legally and not have to worry about anything,” said Adonnis Brooks, a mentee of Arrington.

“I know I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for Vaughn. Wouldn't have a company, I wouldn't have the mindset that I have, wouldn't have motivation. Vaughn taught me that,” said Brooks.

“We are at the building, started work over here in the red zone, it became a place where our kids had a place to go,” said Arrington.

In fact, dozens of young people would show up daily to get a landscaping job and receive a valuable lesson.

“We started a youth entrepreneurship course. Sarah and I did so we would teach in this room. How do you do financial projections, how do you do marketing?” said Arrington.

As a means to build up the young people in this neighborhood, Vaughn built a business called Human Fliers, a grassroots marketing company with clients like Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.

“We do a lot of person-to-person marketing. We've jumped in to be the folks that knock doors and talk to the community about what he's trying to do,” said Arrington.

“We are the folks you want to call if you want to get the word out,” said Arrington.

Donnie Mathis helps manage Human Fliers. He is 26 now but was a 17-year-old young man when his view of manhood changed.

“The men that you see are the pillars to your community.. they are not necessarily doing the right things and you can get sucked in by that. Me and Vaughn definitely changed my life in a positive manner,” said mentor, Donnie Mathis.

“So now that I'm on the right path. I can be a pillar to my community. It really warms my heart to know that I can change someone's life, literally that I can prevent them from going on a negative,” said Mathis.

“What would you say about the importance of reach back?” asked Lewis.

“If you don't do it who will. We are in a time when the absence of fathers in the Black community,” said Arrington. “Mentorship is vital. Everyone needs someone they can look up to.”

“Find someone that you can lend a hand to that you can lend an ear to, and you can lend some resources to it to support their dreams,” said Arrington.