Javier didn’t show up to his first interview with Michele, Would Works' Program Director, because he had been recently released from jail and didn’t have clothes to wear. Michele assured him he didn’t need to wear anything special, and encouraged him to meet her anyway. She was impressed by his work experience and his willingness to commute from San Bernardino to the Would Works workshop in Highland Park. “I wake up at 3:00am to get to Would Works…I like being punctual,” Javier says, explaining that the program is worth the long bus ride because he learns valuable skills with good people. He has enjoyed his experience so much that he wants to continue working as an Artisan for as long as possible.
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.
At Would Works, Javier enjoys sanding and would like to learn wood burning. He particularly enjoys working with his fellow artisan David, who impressed Javier with photos of the wood surf board he built. "I asked David, ‘How can I be your protege?’” he laughs, grateful for the friendships he has made through the program.
Javier has seven kids who keep him busy, and a commitment to his daughter keeps him focused. “I promised her I would stay a straight arrow,” he says with a grin.
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Also in Our Artisans
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.
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.