A major function of Guild life is teaching each other how to do woodworking. A few years ago, a member had the idea to use the assembled students as a work crew, building items for deserving recipients. Thus was born the Group Project: a nearly annual happening where several members, led by a professional, build their skills and pick up tips of the craft, while creating excellent woodworks for local non-profit organizations. Cumulatively, we’ve donated thousands of man-hours through these works, and the rewards are just the very best kind you can receive: camaraderie, heightened skills and grateful customers.
Projects are done only for non-profit organizations. The customer pays for all material; the guild donates the labor. All requests are submitted to the, board for approval, Please contact any board member with opportunities to help the community by building furniture.
The History of Community Projects
To start, in the beginning, the Guild was not about the sharing of knowledge about woodworking. The original Guild was strictly a professionals-only organization and its main purpose was getting together to combine resources for an annual event that would put their work before the public. Operating that way, the membership never went beyond two or three dozen members. Leadership rotated to those who could spare time for it but being self-employed producing fine furniture, while jealously guarding their work from being “stolen” by their peers, participation and enthusiasm for the Guild was never huge. All that changed after George DuBois got involved with the Guild.
DuBois virtually re-birthed our Guild. It was under his leadership that most of the popular elements of the Guild we have today were begun. Topmost among those elements was the acceptance of non-professionals to join. Once in, the newbies began asking for opportunities to learn the craft. Those first efforts were organized under Mentorship agreements, fostered by the guild, but held in handshake agreements between folks who knew stuff and folks who wanted to learn. That lasted for a while but eventually, it just didn’t reach enough folks. And so was born the Education Committee.
I was privileged to be a member of that early group. It was led by Roger Tuck. That committee managed to present the Guild about 6 to 8 seminars on an annual basis and truth be told they were very well-received and everyone saw real progress being made. All the early offerings were demo-only affairs. It wasn’t long however, that we saw a need to do something beyond holding demonstration seminars. Folks wanted to get busy doing meaningful work. About that same time, DuBois asked for some decent trappings to be put together for our displays at the events and shows we were getting into. Right then and there were born our first two groups projects; the Guild Workbench and the Shoji Screens. (Begin slides now) We had a hit! Everyone had a blast and, being led by professionals, a lot of knowledge was passed on. This was obviously the right path but we had just one more hurdle to overcome before the first true “community project” saw the light of day.
That hurdle was the fact that, while most of our members were eager participants, wanting to learn as much as they could, most were already into their later decades in life, when few people are looking to acquire more furniture for themselves. The obvious answer came to Roger: let’s do this for folks who can use the help! And so the Board made the decision to seek out non-profits in need. We didn’t have to look far then and that remains true today. The result of all this has been a beautiful merging of teaching, learning & altruism.
With literally thousands of hours from our volunteers, our Group projects have provided services for the likes of the
German-American School , the auxiliary services division of the Salem Police Department, the Peninsula Children’s Center, toy drives, a flag case project for fallen vets and the current effort in support of the Open House Ministries (OHM), a homeless shelter in Vancouver . Overall, that’s eleven separate projects in the last 10 years.
The vast majority of this work (8 out of the 11 projects)) has been done in the home shops of our gallant and generous members. Clearly, we have no shortage of the right stuff among us, folks willing and able to step up and help others. They would stop me now and say that it’s actually been a helluva lotta fun. And they would be right. It is fun. And rewarding. And educational.
And yet, although successful, we’ve been butting our heads into walls now over the last three or four projects dealing with issues of growth. Quite frankly, we’re topped out in productivity due to lack of places to work. Our volunteers are certainly there and willingundefinedwe actually had over 20 people step up to help with the OHM project but we were forced to turn away all but four bodies, due to the limitations of working in a home shop. The accompanying lack of efficiency in doing production work in a home shop is, quite frankly, a squandering our talents. With a proper work space we could do so much more, serve so many others and give more members the opportunity to give back to this great community. ~Ariel Enriquez