Students mix carpentry with compassion in special cabinetry project

Students mix carpentry with compassion in special cabinetry project
Posted on 02/01/2018
Northeast Tech construction trades students (left to right) Noah Ballard, Denton Dotson, Donnie Brown and Alex Ortiz work to assemble shelving and doors for the 13 wardrobe cabinets that were built for the Community Crisis Center in Miami. Patience, accuracy, teamwork – these are just a few of the things students in Clint Seigrist’s construction trades class have learned in the process of creating 13 wardrobe cabinets for the Community Crisis Center in Miami.

“This project was much more difficult than what I thought it would be,” said Jamie Daniels of Grove. “I’m glad we did it though. I know people who are victims of domestic violence, and I know they need help, whether they realize it or not.”

The service project came about from a connection between Northeast Tech Student Advisor Tobie Gatewood and Kelsey Samuels, assistant director at the Community Crisis Center. Gatewood serves as a board member for the crisis center which recently received a grant to remodel the facility.

“When we received a grant from the Lowe's Charitable Foundation, Tobie mentioned that Northeast Tech had a woodworking class that did amazing work,” Samuels said. “I reached out to Clint, and he was extremely responsive and agreed to help.”

The supplies for the project were paid for using the Lowe’s grant, but Seigrist’s students were responsible for everything else required to build the cabinets. From designing the cabinets, to cutting the individual pieces, to assembly and finish work, his students were responsible for the project from start to end.

“I have more students than they needed cabinets, so they’ve been working in pairs for the last two months to get the job done,” Seigrist said. “This project taught them plenty of carpentry skills, but it also helped them work on their communication skills – something that’s a necessity in this trade.”

Learning to effectively communicate with their teammate was one challenge, but the students also quickly learned that making a quality piece of furniture is more difficult than anticipated.

“I thought it would just be a quick put this and this together, but it wasn’t that easy. Learning how to make allowances was frustrating,” said Daniels. “I made the doors and the shelves and did a lot of the gluing, because the front style of the cabinet shelves have to be glued on and then nailed.”

After months of hard work, the students delivered the solid, red oak cabinets to the crisis center on the last day of January.

“They are beautiful! The quality is better than anything we could have purchased in a furniture store,” said Samuels. “We serve 250 women and children a year at our shelter so having a quality and sturdy product is important to us. We are so impressed with the work the students did.”

The cabinets will be mounted in the center’s client rooms and will provide them with a private storage space to keep their clothes and personal items during their stay.

“I would recommend other organizations to reach out to Northeast Tech if they have a need that this class could meet,” Samuels said. “We have also worked the video production and graphic design classes and have been impressed with each experience. It's a great way for the students to give back and for non-profit agencies to get quality pro-bono work.”

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