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Westminster At Lake Ridge Blog

An illustrious past meets an exceptional future. We are committed to creating meaningful lives of purposeful engagement for every resident as well as those who serve them.

Westminster At Lake Ridge Blog

Kimberly Hartke
Posted: Thursday, July 17, 2014

Westminster at Lake Ridge Woodshop Volunteers Build Community

blog-wood-formanjpgIt’s noisy in the busy woodshop at Westminster at Lake Ridge, the  electric sander is buzzing and the shrill sound of the table saw chimes in.  These are the sounds made by a few talented wood workers  who give of their time and talent to repair family treasures and preserve important memories for their neighbors.

For most people woodshop evokes faded memories of a high school class.  But Ed Pearthree and several other residents of the Westminster at Lake Ridge retirement community are finding their woodshop glory days are still ahead. They donate time and woodworking skills to repair beloved but beat up furnishings for their community.

“Often furniture gets damaged in a move. We get the legs put back on and the broken dresser back to usefulness again,” explains Pearthree.

A group of volunteers work primarily for the over 200 residents, fixing broken chairs, tables, repairing damaged family heirloom furniture. While all community residents are permitted to use the shop, most people send things to the team of woodworking volunteers. 

As a child, Pearthree played in his grandfather’s cabinet making shop.  During a stint in the Army Ed spent his off duty hours renovating his home. Everywhere the Army transferred Ed, his woodworking tools would go. When Ed chose Westminster at Lake Ridge 4 years ago as his retirement home, the tools moved in with him and he joined the woodshop.  Today, Ed is the “foreman” of the shop.
Dick Parkinson worked in computers for Eastman Kodak. “Woodworking is a lifelong interest, it is the opposite of what I did professionally,” says Dick. He moved to Westminster at Lake Ridge three years ago with experience in repair and refinishing wood and caning chairs. This summer, he is caning an 1880’s chair, fixing a broken cabinet and plans to tackle several other caning projects.

blog-wood-chairjpgDoug Borden joined the Westminster Woodworkers with little to no experience, but is learning the craft from the other men. “Ed is a patient teacher, and I now specialize in chairs. We work to help others in our community,” he says while adding glue to a chair joint.

Mr. Joe Fleig once had a woodshop of his own and donated some very nice equipment to the shop. As a former carpenter, he has the most woodworking experience of the group. John Allen is also an experienced woodworker who makes Windsor chairs and contributes his wood turning skills to the team of volunteers.

Mr. Marvin Bryant is Treasurer for the group. He keeps their modest accounts, as the only money that comes in to the shop is reimbursement for supplies. All the men donate their labor to benefit the community.

Susan Lasher, Director of Life Enrichment says, “The woodworkers built the original benches embedded in the community landscape, they machined plaques for our craft fair projects, and designed attractive individual wooden mailboxes for our residents’ doors. Over the years, they have given so much to the community.”

The woodworkers are busy with a waiting list of projects. When they get a call, they visit a resident’s apartment to assess whether or not the furniture is repairable. On one such visit, they found a large antique chest of drawers missing three legs and sitting precariously on stacks of books.

The shop has an impressive array of raw materials, woodworking machinery. Wall-mounted pegboards organize neatly a variety of tools: hammers, saws, screwdrivers. The shop boasts a library of hundreds of woodworking magazines with DIY instructions and proven techniques. An impressive new batch of machines recently donated to the shop sits ready to be inventoried and placed into service.

blo-wood-volsjpgThe volunteers work independently, as their schedule permits, and they gather on Tuesday afternoons and work collegially on their assigned projects, joking and enjoying each other’s company. Each on his own workbench or machine, the place is buzzing with the passion of both students and teachers in the Westminster at Lake Ridge Woodshop.

Someday, they hope to have time to make a new sign for the woodshop door.



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