Curt Behlow grew up in Sterling Heights, Michigan; the oldest of 7. From an early age, Curt had a close relationship with his maternal grandfather, Donald Shock Sr., whom he called Papa. From his Papa, Curt learned the value of faith, prayer and a strong work ethic.
At 18, Curt felt a call to duty and enlisted in the Marine Corps to serve his country. During his military career, Curt was stationed on Parris Island, S.C. where he helped recruits prepare for training. As a Marine, Curt picked up many skills that would help him succeed in life. After being honorably discharged in 1994, he returned to Michigan. Like countless other Veterans; Curt struggled to translate the many skills learned in the military to a worthwhile, gainful career. He eventually learned skills in brick masonry and started a business in brick and concrete restoration.
In 2001, Curt gave up his business and traveled to Europe while discerning a spiritual call. There he immersed himself in the study of Sacred Scripture and European art for two years. Settling in Dublin, Ireland, he dedicated his time as a volunteer for the Society of St. Vincent De Paul, driven by a strong desire to serve others and a passion for learning. It was during this period that he realized his calling to both academic pursuits and serving the community, prompting his decision to return home.
Upon his return to Michigan in 2003, Curt began his undergraduate studies at Wayne State University while working at St. Joseph's Mercy Macomb hospital in various capacities, including patient care assistant, phlebotomist, and telemetry technician. His experience in patient care, coupled with his exploration of Ignatian Spirituality and guidance from Jesuit mentors, led him to the realization that his true passion lay in the field of social work. In 2007, Curt relocated to Ann Arbor to pursue a Master of Social Work degree at the University of Michigan, with a focus on interpersonal practice, mental health, and community organizing.
After completing his graduate studies in 2009, Curt's dedication to serving vulnerable populations led him to work as a unit coordinator at Fresh Start Clubhouse, a member-led community that provides support to individuals with mental illness. There, he embraced the principles of servant leadership, worked side-by-side with clubhouse members, empowering them to assume leadership roles. Through his efforts, the Clubhouse achieved international accreditation, a testament to their unwavering commitment to excellence.
During his time at the Clubhouse, Curt felt a need to support and empower fellow Veterans who, like himself, struggled to find their purpose after leaving the military. In 2012, he seized the opportunity to fulfill this calling by joining the Detroit VA Medical Center as a social worker, offering comprehensive services to homeless Veterans. Despite the challenges inherent in his role, Curt's passion for service and clinical social work expertise enabled him to make a significant impact. In 2014, he transitioned to the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, assuming the position of Community Employment Coordinator (CEC) within the Homeless Program.
In March 2015, faced with the imperative to assist numerous homeless Veterans in their quest for employment, Curt envisioned a community-based approach to address this critical issue. In April, he proactively reached out to key individuals within the community, assembling a planning committee that would soon give rise to Hire MI Vet. Today, Hire MI Vet continues to flourish as a non-profit organization, spearheaded by an all-volunteer team.
Curt expresses his deepest gratitude to all of the dedicated volunteers of Hire MI Vet, whose unwavering commitment and hard work have been instrumental in the organization's success. He extends his appreciation to those who played a role in its inception, including April LaRock, Rebecca Flatt, Beverly Conatser, Colleen Mallory, Sayaka Matsumoto, Javon Gatewood, Barbara Hauswirth, and Donald Deatrick, whose efforts helped Hire MI Vet achieve nonprofit status.