Training program

‘It’s satisfying’: Chicago carpenter training program prepares participants for lifelong employment

CHICAGO (SCS) — Musical instruments, furniture, exquisite carpentry in the hall of a building: talented men and women make it all 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 job for 30 years.

This training quickly pays off. What these students learn in this workshop and what they will soon produce, they will be able to share with their family and friends.

“It’s so satisfying that I got to take it home to show people, ‘Hey, I did this in five weeks.'”

Darlene Moyeno and her classmates participate in the carpentry training program offered by the Greater West Town Community Development Project. Here at Humboldt Park, they prepare 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 sought after by various companies that manufacture wood products.

“Furniture makers, musical instrument makers, architectural carpentry companies – they often do high-visibility work – where they can point to a hall downtown and say, ‘Hey, I’ve been working on that carpentry or a nice musical instrument in a catalog or on a stage somewhere,” Rappe said.

Darlene previously worked in the financial sector and wanted to change careers. Others, however, have had little or no work experience.

“Many applicants to our program have barriers to employment,” she said.

Executive Director Keisha Davis-Johnson tells us some interns have been homeless – others have already been incarcerated.

“People come to learn a skill, but end up leaving with higher self-esteem,” Davis-Johnson said. “If a person can earn a salary, if they feel like they are contributing positively to society, that paints a bigger picture in terms of growth.”

The course lasts 15 weeks and student Nathan Mansakahn, who is also an artist, says it is demanding.

Nathan: You can’t just throw it in the machine and pull out a cabinet. You need to do a lot of thinking beforehand.

Jim: And that’s satisfying.

Nathan: Yeah, that’s it. 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 to settle in. I really started to feel confident, excited, like you know what, I see all the different paths I can take,” Moyeno said.

The salary for new carpenters is between $15 and $20 per hour. For more information on the training program visit the Greater West Town Woodworkers website.