Welcome Stephen, the newest member of the Milk Not Jails cooperative!

Milk Not Jails' newest member, Stephen Pendarvis, after a long day on the road.

Milk Not Jails’ newest member, Stephen Pendarvis, after a long day on the road.

This week, Milk Not Jails welcomed Stephen Pendarvis into our worker- and farmer-owned cooperative business. Stephen’s main responsibility at Milk Not Jail is to drive our truck throughout the five boroughs, making deliveries to a store near you and mobilizing people for change on the route! With a degree in Business Administration he’ll also be training us all in business development, so that we can make our social enterprise sustainable. Be sure to introduce yourself to him out on the streets. And read below a quick interview we did with Stephen will on the road yesterday.

Q: Stephen, tell us a little about yourself.

A. I was born and raised in Brooklyn. I live in Brownsville right now, but I’m a Flatbush man. I have two children, 1 15-year old daughter and a 6-year old son. I spent probably too much time on the weekends at Chuck E. Cheese with my son.

Q: You have a business degree. How does that prepare you to be a cooperative owner here?

A: I went to college down in South Carolina. I actually thought I’d be an English major or study journalism, because I love to play with language and I’ve always been told I’m a good writer. But my mother pushed me into Business, saying it was more practical. To tell you the truth, I haven’t had the opportunity to use all that I learned in any of my former workplaces, so I’m excited to have more of a voice in Milk Not Jails’ short- and long-term business planning.

Q: How did your time in prison shape who you are today.

A: To be honest, I’m not quite sure. I’ve repressed a lot of my experience there. I was upstate in prison for about two and a half years. I think the prison was somewhere near Albany. It was not a good time for me, and it’s hard to be out and see so much substance abuse and homelessness that is responded to by the system with jail time.

Q: After you got out of prison you became a substance abuse counselor. What caused you to pursue that work?

A: Several years ago a cousin of mine, who had been a football player and been in the military, died on the streets. No one would touch him. I held him in my arms. He had been suffering from a drug problem and wasted away to nothing. I wanted to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Q: What are you most looking forward to at Milk Not Jails?

A: I’m looking to be part of the solution here too. I want to grow this company into one that trains good people to have good jobs, gives people second chances and has a bigger impact on the systems that have such a stranglehold on our community.


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