There are a lot of nooks and crannies on the Neighborhood Ministries campus that hide real gems. One unassuming set of double doors hides just that. At Kids Life (grades k-7) on Monday nights, those doors come open during activity time to reveal a wonderful little woodshop. There, youth will shape, assemble and decorate kits that have been pre-made by a team of volunteers. It’s a well-designed space that serves an eager population with a seemingly more eager volunteer team.
The lead volunteer behind this space is Mark Fellman, himself a small-business owner of a contracting company. He’s got a lot of praise for the youth and the strong core of volunteers who support them. Here are some numbers for a typical week: 7-12 volunteers, each giving 3 ½ hours, to serve 25-40 kids. The main focus of the program is “not the nuts and bolts,” says Mark, but instead to help “establish some values” as the youth accomplish projects. Running in tandem with that focus is a core value of Neighborhood: meaningful relationships. This means the volunteers give more than technical instruction, they graciously provide loving encouragement and support to our kids.
Woodshop was a huge part of Kids Club this year, opening hundreds of minds to the value of working with their hands to accomplish a goal. By the end of Kids Club, our campus was awash with excited kids proudly showing off their handmade derby cars and clocks.
Recently, when Mark was at a student’s house, the young man mentioned that “woodshop was his favorite time of the week.” That’s the kind of comment that really moves and inspires the woodshop team. The program has seen a lot of success for our grade schoolers and is looking to start up with our high schoolers next spring; be on the lookout for more news as that time nears.