Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Visit to Covenant House's Artisan Woodshop, Washington DC.

It was a pleasure to visit the Artisan Woodshop program, run by Covenant House, while I was in Washington DC recently. This program is a job training initiative focusing on teaching woodworking skills to youth at risk including homeless young people.

Over a 4 month period, they learn not only a range of woodworking skills, but they also develop many of those employability skills employers require.
Learning just to be reliable and turn up for work is such a basic and critical attitudinal skill which the young participants acquire during their training.

Up to 8 young people participate in the program at any one time, and are currently making table and chair sets which are then given to needy families in their communities. The trainees are paid the minimum wage while they are engaged in the program.

In this picture Greg is chatting with Kevin, a program participant. It was a delight to hear Kevin speaking about how his view of furniture and timber has changed now that he understands how furniture is made and the effort which goes into making it. Like most woodworkers, he now finds himself picking up furniture to see how it is put together. That is a good sign! Thanks to Kevin - keep up the great work, mate, and I hope you find some work as a result of your enthusiasm and the training you've received!

Special thanks to Training Instructor Justin Couch, for generously giving his time to spend with Rosemary and myself.
It was great to hear from Justin about the background toe the program and the way the program has modified along the way. His manner with the young participants is clearly one of those ingredients which helps make the program work well. Justin and I are pictured here together.

The US economy has been hit hard by the repercussions of the global financial crisis, so finding employment for the trainees is a very tough challenge at the moment. I wish the staff at Covenant House and the Artisan Program and the young participants the best of luck as they respond to this challenge. Check out their blog at for more info.

As a woodworking youthworker myself, it was inspiring and encouraging to learn about this fantasic program.

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