Friday, February 24, 2017

TOP STORY >> Whittling away stress, frame by frame

By Airman 1st Class Grace Nichols 
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Sawdust and the buzz of an electric saw fill the air as individuals create personal masterpieces at the 19th Force Support Squadron Skills and Development Center Wood Frame Shop at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas.

The shop is located next to the Hobby Shop and Outdoor Recreation and is open every weekday or Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and noon to 5 p.m. Offering several creative workshops a month, participants can explore a spectrum of options from woodworking to painting classes ranging in price.

The shop provides a creative outlet and a safe haven for Airmen.

“We’re able to give service members and their families a safe environment to create things; our mission is to make sure we take care of them,” said Hilary Shambaugh, 19th FSS Skills and Development Center director. “It’s important to keep their morale up because they go through a lot.” 

It’s more than wood working, it’s a way to develop and care for Airmen and their families by giving them a fun way to relax.

“When you’re working with power tools, you’re only focused on the task at hand,” said Ed Eick, U.S. Army retiree and wood frame shop employee. “If someone is depressed and comes here and is focusing on a project, it’s harder to dwell on the other things dragging them down.”

The atmosphere created here is geared toward encouraging those going through difficult situations.

“My fiancĂ© is deployed, so I’m trying do to as much I can to keep my mind off it,” said U.S. Army National Guard Specialist Miranda Haskins, 39th Fox Company small arms artillery repair personnel. “I get to do three things at the shop: keep busy, take some time for myself and make my wall pretty by building a picture frame. I’ve had an amazing time.”

The large space gives artists, hobbyists or beginners room to do more and take advantage of the equipment to create personal projects they may not be able to make in their home or dorm.

“Service members who live in the dorms or base housing don’t have a lot of room and often have more time than they know what to do with,” Eick said. “This gives them an opportunity to build things and get their minds off of whatever is going on in their lives.”

The staff builds a sense of pride in the budding artists by teaching them how to create something that’s truly theirs.

“I wanted to be able to give back to the service,” Eick said. “Woodworking helps people feel that sense of accomplishment because there’s a tangible object they can look at and say, ‘I did this.’”

Building a project from scratch also gives people a sense of power and control to design and create in their own personal style.

“I changed my mind about what I wanted to make three times; you have the ability to see what you can come up with and no one is pressuring you to do it a certain way,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Rachel Smith, 19th Maintenance Group resource advisor.

Whether a person goes to silence the chaos of life with the sounds of a saw, calm their mind with the stroke of a paintbrush or just fill an afternoon with fun, the woodshop creates an atmosphere of care.

For information about class prices and the wood frame shop, call 501- 987-6504.

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