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Our Mission 

Fresh Start employs and trains individuals seeking to improve their lives with a future in building high-quality custom products and, in partnership with community organizations, provides education and training through the Richard P. Garmany Fresh Start Academy.

Our History

Fresh Start Pallet Products, a remarkable nonprofit based in Hartford, Connecticut, pursues a mission that goes beyond crafting furniture: we are dedicated to rebuilding lives through education and employment, and fostering positive change in our community.

Founded in 2015 through the vision and perseverance of Pastor Rick Kremer, we began our social enterprise in the backyard of Grace Lutheran Church, with volunteers building benches out of discarded wooden pallets found nearby. This outdoor seating provided
neighborhood guests at the church’s weekly dinner a place to sit and chat after their meal. Without these benches, the casual conversations taking place on the sidewalk constituted “loitering.”


A church member who was a retired carpenter provided instruction and supervised the building process, which took place in tents behind the church. Then, when several local organizations and individuals purchased benches from the small work force, we expanded our expertise beyond items built from pallets. Each new project was an opportunity for growth, resulting in the transition from an informal work group to a model of training and job creation.


With our employees gaining additional experience and skills, we were able to expand the quality and breadth of our products.


With the winter of 2015 approaching, through the generosity of Trinity Episcopal Church, we were able to move the operation into their basement, where we stayed for two years.


Soon we were granted a 501(c)3 designation, and in 2019, Fresh Start moved to its current location on Sargeant Street with a 10,000-square-foot wood shop. Through generous grants, we have purchased commercial-grade equipment. These help us to craft a range of indoor, outdoor, and home decor items, utilizing a variety of hardwoods, including oak, maple, and walnut.


Additionally, with substantial assistance from the Garmany Foundation and with highly qualified instructors, we established a dedicated educational arm, now known as the Richard P.Garmany Fresh Start Academy. With a focus on education and skill development, we offer our students a certificate-granting curriculum, helping them to broaden their areas of expertise andto secure long-term employment after graduation, some even accepting a position in our shop.

We already have many satisfied customers and would welcome the chance to build something for your home, business, or community organization. Fresh Start’s team will collaborate with you to bring your vision to life. From concept to creation, we design and build
custom high-quality furniture and cabinetry. We also have a core set of products for your outdoor furniture needs. Our handsome Nantucket Chair is crafted with meticulous care and adds comfort and elegance to any space. Our sidewalk arbors are a highlight at weddings and
outdoor community events. Available in various sizes, colors, and stains, these welcoming structures would enhance your garden or outdoor area.


We also partner with local businesses to create unique and attractive interior and exterior furniture. We have had many successful collaborations with businesses in Hartford, like Parkville Market and The Swift Factory, supporting employment inside the state. We strive to keep our business local and impactful. Though we are located in the capital city, our talented staff and volunteers travel throughout the state to meet with customers and help their ideas come to life.

In summary, Fresh Start Pallet Products isn’t just about furniture: it’s about transformation, community, and craftsmanship. We provide individuals with an opportunity to gain marketable skills and earn a living wage creating high-quality products. Please consider
supporting our mission by exploring our products and partnering

with us for your next project.

2021 (cont.)

Garmany Fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving has awarded $30,000 to Support Fresh Start Academy.


Fresh Start Pallet Products Receives $50,000 Grant from Richard P. Garmany Fund at the Hartford Foundation. The grant will help to acquire CNC (Computerized Numerical Control) equipment for use at the Richard P. Garmany Fresh Start Academy. 


Fresh Start Names New President & CEO Jenna Columbus. The Board of Directors of Fresh Start Pallet Products is pleased to announce Jenna B. Columbus as their next President and CEO. Columbus will assume leadership of the organization effective July 1, 2023.

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