8:24 p.m. PDT June 4, 2016
A wood shop class at Waldo Middle School in Salem is working on various projects to help people in the area.
One group finished a wardrobe this week that the HOME Youth and Resource Center in Salem will use for their job preparation program.
The wardrobe will hold clothes and materials for youths to use for interviews and classes, said Tricia Ratliff, program manager for the center.
Kimo Liwis, 13, Issiah DeLeon, 13, Nathan Woolard, 14, Brian Welch, 14, and Joshua Boyzo, 12, built the wardrobe for the center.
The wardrobe, complete with wheels and doors to help the center use it more easily, is just a bit taller than the boys.
The team said it took about four weeks to build. They were given the assignment when the center offered to pay for all the materials. The five boys then designed the wardrobe and built it from scratch.
Ratliff said the center wanted to work with the schools to complete the project.
Another group was making tables for teachers in the school. Through these projects the students were able to learn how to work with clients, said wood shop teacher Jacob Cogger.
Ratliff agreed, saying all the emails she exchanged with the students were businesslike and the students accomplished each of her requests.
“I’m impressed,” Cogger said. “It’s pretty neat we have (clients) willing to trust middle schoolers.”
He said there was a lot of starting and stopping, but they were able to take the project at a pace so students could also learn along the way.
Cogger said all the projects made by the students will be structurally sound, but may not be perfect.
Though the center may decide to stain the wood, Ratliff said, “I think they’re perfect.”
The students didn’t deliver the wardrobe to the center, in case their peers were there.
Ratliff said they didn’t want to create a divide; the center wanted the students to understand their classmates may be homeless or living in poverty, but the center didn’t want to stigmatize those students either.
“This group isn’t (just) making this for the homeless youth,” Ratliff said. “It’s for their peers.”
Natalie Pate is the education reporter for the Statesman Journal. Contact Natalie at npate@StatesmanJournal.com, 503-399-6745, or follow her on Twitter @Nataliempate, on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/nataliepatejournalist or on the Web at nataliepate.com