OWS and Would-Works, a woodworking program for those in need

Matt Micucci has been spending Saturdays with Would-Works and here’s what he has to say about it:

It’s a bright, sunny Saturday morning in downtown Los Angeles. To be more exact I’m in the area known as Skid Row. It’s early but the streets are filled with the hustle and bustle of it’s tenants. I can’t seem to find the exact address I’m supposed to be at so I pull my car over. As I scan my iphone for past e-mails with the address a woman holding a broom taps on my window. ‘If you’re just going to sit there would you mind pulling up so I can sweep this area of the the street?’ she said. I looked around and realized I had parked right in front of her tent. As I moved my car forward I could see my contact Connor waving from across the way telling me where to park. I could tell this was going to be a truly educational and inspiring day.

Would-Works is a program created by a young man named Connor Johnson. It’s designed to give men and women in need an opportunity to work towards specific goals. More specifically Connor provides a workshop where people living in poverty can learn basic woodworking skills, create beautiful items for sale, and earn money for their goals. For example, if someone needs new eyeglasses, rent money, or clothes for an upcoming job interview, they can sign a contract with Would-Works outlining their goal and commitment to completing it. Every hour the artisan works they earn 10 credits. If for instance the new eye glasses they need are $200 dollars they will need 200 credits which equals 20 hours. Over the course of a few workshops they can achieve their hours and Would-Works cuts a check for $200 directly to the eye doctor.

We at the Offerman Woodshop often get very busy during the fall as we gear up for the holiday season. It’s sometimes challenging for us to keep up with our web store items while tackling larger, custom furniture jobs. So we decided to team up with Connor and the Would-Works artisans to help us on some sanding and finishing. As I parked I was greeted by 5 Would-Works artisans all helping to unload my car and set up the work space. Today we were working in a narrow garage like space with dim lighting. The normal gymnasium they use had been unavailable to us. We set up some folding tables, connected a few clip lights and went to work. One thing we were concerned about was the specificity of each item. We have a sanding and finishing quality at OWS that is very high. But the 5 workers were a quick study and highly detailed in their work.

As Connor and I worked alongside these folks I got to learn a little more about them and their stories. The common thread between them was a desire to work and better their lives. No one wanted a handout. They wanted to earn their money. And the level of work they did was beyond the 10 dollars an hour they earned. The sense of pride as they are working is palpable among the sound of orbital sanders. For this Saturday they had a purpose. A job to do.

Connor explained to me that every night on Skid Row in Los Angeles there are 4,000 to 5,000 homeless men, women and children. The program he has created is small. But the mission is huge. And honest. And it’s working!

The Offerman Woodshop is excited and proud to help with the Would-Works mission and we plan to continue an ongoing partnership.
Please check out the Would-Works website: http://would-works.com/magento/
Perhaps consider purchasing one of their fine bottle openers or cutting boards for a holiday gift.
They are currently looking for a more permanent home base to work out of, so if anyone has a lead please feel free to contact : [email protected]