Upon entering the Hastings Veterans Home woodshop, one is greeted with the strong aroma of freshly cut wood accompanied with the consistent clamor of men hard at work. Mike Kriel, the Woodshop Coordinator, steps proudly into the room and states with a smile, “Welcome to my playground.”
Established in 1993, the self-sustaining woodshop specializes in creating handmade flag and memorabilia cases. These cases include custom engraved name plates, felt interior, and a glossy Tung Oil finish. Customers can chose between solid oak and walnut, and also have the option of personalizing the glass etching. A United States map hanging in the corner of the shop is covered in tacks, representing the different locations the shop has shipped merchandise to. Kriel explains that just three months ago they accomplished their goal of shipping to all 50 states. Great Britain, Germany, and Afghanistan are just a few of the countries they have shipped to internationally.
All expenses in the shop are covered through revenue brought in from these sales. In addition to the cases, Veterans also spend time crafting various custom projects. “Something is always going on,” tells Kriel. “I’ve never said no to a custom project.” The wide variety of carpentry displayed throughout the area showcases the shop’s ability. Cabinets, picture frames and tables are just a few of the items Veterans have recently completed.
Having served as coordinator for 15 years, Kriel has experienced firsthand the positive benefits Veterans receive from the woodshop. Working on projects builds confidence, develops teamwork, and establishes a sense of belonging. Many enjoy the therapeutic aspect of crafting and creating. For Kriel, simply working with the Veterans is a privilege. “At the end of the day, the woodshop isn’t a business. It’s for the Veterans.”
To place an order, refer to the online order form located here. For more information or specialized orders, contact Mike Kriel at 651-438-8559 or firstname.lastname@example.org.