Meet Taaj, Tim and Quinn – Three of our Artisans in Would Works’ Young Makers Program.
The Young Makers Program provides youth the opportunity to learn the beginning fundamentals of woodworking. At WW they learn to fabricate kitchen products and furniture all the while gaining experience using tools and machines in the wood shop that will prepare them for jobs when they graduate from our program.
In the last year, during COVID, David says his living situation became dire and he knew he needed help. He has always loved making things and working with his hands, so he Googled ‘woodworking’ and ‘homeless,” and learned about Would Works.
E'dran is an artist and a self described adventurist who is looking to re-enter the work force. His Would Works goal is to pay off his past due rent, but in the process he's been learning from the wood "...now that I started working with this wood, I ended up buying two plants! And it trips me out--the little small things like that, where you really start to appreciate-- because even though its wood, its life."
Shirley is the bedrock of the Would Works shop. She started as an Artisan in 2017 and in 2021 the Lead Artisan position was created to recognize her leadership on the shop floor. Shirley loves to sand and has a keen eye for detail, she also supports and guides new Artisans as they develop these skills.
Prior to incarceration, Javier worked as a chef and ran his own business. But, he says, “I’m an ex-gang member and I’ve lived on and off the streets my whole life.” Javier’s gang affiliation has made it difficult to maintain stability, but at Would Works he shows up early to every workshop ready to work and learn.
“I had a rough life growing up,” Elizabeth explains. She battled addiction for 20 years, did 4 prison terms and was arrested 63 times. But, she's grateful to the people who believed in her and gave her a second (and third) chance. Now housed and a decade into sobriety, Elizabeth came to Would Works to pay her rent and to find community.
In 2016 Marella lost her job, and when her husband fell ill, she stayed home to care for him. Ultimately, she lost her home and found herself living on the streets. Marella's Would Works goal is to pay her phone bill and buy winter clothes. Then she plans to buy a laptop and print resumes for job applications.
Diane's Would Works goal was to help pay off installments for her pick-up truck, which she needed in order to find employment, but Would Works also helped provide her with much needed perspective on another life goal--to somehow make a living as a wood worker. Since finishing the program, Diane found housing, started a carpentry program at LA trade tech and is now leading workshops as our first Artisan Leader.
After fifteen years living on the streets, Thomas recently was placed in permanent supportive housing for veterans. He wanted to buy furniture to make the apartment more comfortable so he came to Would Works to work towards that goal. He completed his hours with us on his 60th birthday and was preparing to host his first birthday party in his new home.
A four time published writer with a background in modeling, acting and performance arts--Nathanie brings an artist's sense of awe and transformation to the wood shop: "Anything I can create with my hands and see an outcome from it, its just amazing...at the end of the day I look at it and I'm like wow--it doesn't even feel like wood any more-it feels like glass."