Detroit laundromat specializes in giving people a second chance

Posted at 11:33 PM, Jul 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-08 19:02:14-04

Lafayette Laundry is a place where second chances are possible.

When Kelly Corbett and Patty Cunningham opened the laundromat in August of 2013, they knew they wanted to make a difference in the community.

Their motto is "do the next right thing".

For them, that meant giving a fair chance to anyone who wanted a job. That included applicants who have a criminal history.

"Did it really matter that you were convicted of a crime and paid your dues, did your time? No, not to us," says Lafayette Laundry co-owner, Kelly Corbett.

It was because of that philosophy that Sabrina Shelby got a second chance. The married mother of 5 had spent time in prison for selling drugs to an undercover cop. Once she got out, she says she couldn't get anyone to hire her.

"Everywhere I went I let them know up front that I was a felon and I had bad things in my past going on and they just wouldn't hire me. it was like a slap in the face," says Sabrina.

She finally got a second chance when Kelly and Patty agreed to give her a shot. She started out as an attendant and has recently been promoted to manager.

"They didn't treat me like I was a disease. They treated me like I was one of their own," says Sabrina.

Kelly and Patty say they care about the customers, the city and their employees.

"Be honest, be creative, be supportive, bring in ideas. That's what we cared about and continue to care about," says Kelly Corbett.

Another manager at Lafayette Laundry happens to be Sabrina's son, DeAnthony. He decided to apply for the job after his mom was hired.

He had also served time in prison, but he was there for drug possession and assault.

DeAnthony says getting a fresh start from Kelly and Patty changed his life.

"To now be able to say, I'm in my own house, got my own car - it's all thanks to these ladies and my hard work. I really appreciate it from the bottom of my heart," he says.

Kelly and Patty say since they opened their business on E. Lafayette in Detroit, they've hired a total of 5 felons. Three of them did not work out, but that hasn't changed their philosophy of giving people a chance.

They say the proof is in the commitment they've seen in Sabrina and DeAnthony.

"We couldn't run this business without them," says Patty.

She and Kelly also urge other small business owners to give everyone a fair shot at a job, even if they have a criminal history.

"Just interview them, talk to them. There are diamonds in the rough all over this city and we got two of them," says Patty.