CHICAGO (CBS) — Musical instruments, furniture, exquisite millwork in a building’s lobby: Talented men and women make all this out of wood — It takes skill and training.
CBS 2’s Jim Williams reports on a training program in Chicago that has been giving young people the tools to do this work for the past 30 years.
This training has a quick payoff. What these students learn in this workshop and what they’ll soon produce they can share with family and friends.
“It’s so satisfying that I was able to bring home to show people – ‘Hey I made this within five weeks.'”
Darlene Moyeno and her fellow students are in the Woodworkers Training Program offered by the Greater West Town Community Development Project. Here, in Humboldt Park, they’re preparing for a lifetime of employment by using their hands and mastering this equipment.
Doug Rappe has been an instructor here for 30 years. He says his students will find their services and creativity are in demand at a variety of companies that make wood products.
“Furniture makers, musical instrument manufacturers, architectural millworker companies — they are doing often high visibility work — where they can point to a lobby downtown and say, ‘Hey I worked on that millwork or a beautiful musical instrument in a catalog or on a stage somewhere,” Rappe said.
Darlene once worked in the financial industry and wanted a career change. Others, though, have had little to no job experience.
“A lot of applicants to our program have barriers to employment,” she said.
Executive director Keisha Davis-Johnson tells us some trainees have been homeless — others were once incarcerated.
“People come in to learn a skill, but ultimately walk away with better self-esteem,” Davis-Johnson said. “If a person can earn wages, if they feel like they are positive contributors to society, it speaks to a larger picture in terms of just their growth.”
The course runs 15 weeks and student Nathan Mansakahn, who’s also an artist, says it’s demanding.
Nathan: You can’t just throw it in the machine and out comes a cabinet. You have to do a lot of thinking ahead.
Jim: And that’s satisfying.
Nathan: Yeah, it is. It’s satisfying.
Satisfying and rewarding.
“At the end of the day, you can see the physical results of what you’ve done,” Rappe said.
“After the first month, it really started settling in. I really started feeling confident, excited, like you know what, I see all the different paths I can take,” Moyeno said.
The pay for new woodworkers is between $15 and $20 an hour. For more information on the training program visit the Greater West Town Wood Workers website.