Up & Coming Weekly

April 25, 2023

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 23 of 32

WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM APRIL 26 - MAY 2, 2023 UCW 15 Falcon Children's Home woodshop brings veterans, students together to learn skills, create art by R. ELGIN ZEIBER EVENT R. ELGIN ZEIBER, Contributor. COMMENTS? Editor@upandcomin- gweekly.com. 910-484-6200 Planers, joiners, bandsaws, table saws, computer numerical control machines and Harley, the light- blond Golden Retriever, soak up every square inch of floor space. Boards of different types of wood lean stacked against the walls. It's drafty and loud. e smell of stained wood is pungent, but the whir of the machines is reassuring. Intricate works of student art such as inlaid tables and plaques are strewn about, some completed, some in the process of being finished for a public showing at the Fayetteville Arts Council from May 4 to 20. e woodshop is a world away from the grind of daily life for the kids at Falcon Children's Home. e program started in 2015 when he offered to teach a wood-working class, Head Instructor John DeGreef says. Falcon Children's Home liked the idea and at the end of a trial run wanted to make woodshop a high school elective. However, there was no money for equipment. And DeGreef couldn't continue to trailer his personal tools to school for every class. He says a friend suggested reaching out to the United Way for grant money. And during their first year, they gave $15,000. "at's pretty much where we started," DeGreef said. After moving to its present location, gaining Woodturning Instructor Carl Sanders, CNC Instruc- tor Derek Feely and state-of-the-art machinery that includes two CNC laser cutters, the program has become a crucial part of Falcon Children's Home. "Basically, seven years later," DeGreef says, "We're close to $180,000 raised through grants." All of the equipment in the shop was either purchased using grant monies or donated. In fact, Falcon Children's Home relies on donations for everything from toilet paper to paying employees. ere are young people up to 21-years-old living in cottages on the grounds, Houseparent Magdeli Alexandra Lopez says. Right now, there are eight kids and two house parents per cottage. ere are a total of 13 cottages on campus, separated by gender. Each one can hold a maxi- mum of 12 kids and two house parents. e children live there year-round. "It's a foster home," DeGreef says. Kids come and live here until the court system deems it's okay for them to go home. is nearly windowless woodshop building, its power tools and stalwart instructors focus the kids' minds around something positive and rewards them with lifelong skills. Woodshop is a safe space for these young people. "We don't know why they're here or what they've been through, and we don't get in to that," Feely says. "Our job is to make an escape for them." Foster care is a "protective service" for children who have been abused, neglected or maltreated, in which they're given a family environment in an agency-approved home for a planned and temporary period of time. "ere's about 90 [to] 95 kids that live [up here] full time," DeGreef says. Falcon Children's Home has been "providing a home for children who ... are unable to live with their parents in a regular home setting for over 110 years." Lopez tells the students to treat woodshop like a real job, he says. It's more therapeutic for them. Some of our children deal with a lot of anger, and the shop has helped them process their emotions. "When you're pushing the wood through the ma- chines," 16-year-old Marquasia says, "Just hearing the noise releases some anger." As Marquasia speaks, Harley materializes out of thin air and lays her head in her lap, as if to say everything's alright. "It's like hands-on therapy for me," Marquasia adds. e woodshop is chock-full of pieces of student art that will be displayed and up for sale at the Fayetteville Arts Council in downtown Fayetteville. "[e kids] are selling a lot of these things," Lopez says. A lot of people think they come to shop, but they're actually selling it. All money from items sold goes to the student art- ist who created them. If you'd like to meet the kids of Falcon Children's Home, observe their wonderful woodwork and potentially buy something special for your home, and for a good reason, please come on down to the Fayetteville Arts Council, located at 301 Hay Street, May 4 to 20. ursday, May 4, is the grand opening night, and the kids will be there from 4 to 9 p.m., DeGreef says. John DeGreef, Carl Sanders and Derek Feely are military veterans. Harley is a rescue animal and belongs to DeGreef. "For all of us, this is our give-back," De- Greef says. "We served our country, and we want to continue to give back to our com- munity." Falcon Children's Home is located in Falcon, straight up I-95, a few miles north of Fayetteville. Falcon Children's Home has "opportuni- ties throughout the year" for people inter- ested in volunteering. If you would like to volunteer, please visit www.falconchildren- shome.org/volunteer. If you would like to donate money to the home, please visit www.falconchildren- shome.org/donate. Veteran John DeGreef (above with Harley) and a small team of veteran woodshop instructors work with students at Falcon Children's Home to learn wood-working skills. Many of their creations — such as doors, cabinets, tables (below) — will be on display as part of a show at the Arts Council in May. (Photos courtesy John DeGreef )

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