Wood shop work helps men craft new life - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Wood shop work helps men craft new life


Teen Challenge International of Mid-America helps men change their lives for the better.

The program ministers to men with drug, alcohol and other addictions, and helps get them back on their feet.

But one of the ways they do that requires a lot of work from their hands.

It's a transformation from donated wood, into benches, bird houses, and dog shelters.

"I take them and teach them the art of wood working," said staff member Johnny Bedwell.

Each man at Teen Challenge has a job to help make the products to sell at places like Buchheit, the Teen Challenge Thrift Store, and a booth at the SEMO District Fair.

"I just took the dremel and started going at it with ideas," said Randall Sneed.

"We actually care about what we're doing and what we're putting in other people's homes," said Christopher Sexton.

As each piece of wood changes, so do the men.

"16 months clean, I never thought I'd have a day clean," said Sexton.

Christopher Sexton said he enjoys working at the shop.

"It's just better than any drugs that I did, you know what I mean," said Sexton.

He said it's crafted a better relationship with his family.

"They actually trust me again, they're proud of me, for the first time in 10 years probably, they're actually proud of me for what I'm doing," said Sexton.

Sneed said his work with wood is similar to his life journey.

"If you mess up there's always more layers, you can kind of just start over and try it again," said Sneed.

"You begin to see transformation take place, Teen Challenge is not a 28 day program, its 14 months," said Director James Bolin.

Bolin said the program houses about 155 men, and the wood shop takes about 20 to 22 guys.

Each finished piece of wood gets a mark of success before leaving the shop, and each man a start to success before he leaves the program.

"We burn in the bottom, Teen Challenge information, whoever ends up making it and the date," said Sneed.

"It shows them that they're unique, that they are individuals, it shows them how important they are," said Intern Brian Gehrisch.

"I don't want to just not do bad, I want to do good," said Sexton.

"I want to take the ugly bad pieces of wood, and transform them into something beautiful," said Bedwell.

"I think it's just a life rehabilitation, I think it teaches you to get back into the real world," said Jonathan Carter.

View the Teen Challenge website here.

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