Westminster at Lake Ridge Woodshop Volunteers Build Community

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Contributed by Westminster at Lake Ridge

Lake Ridge, VA –July 8, 2014— For most people woodshop evokes faded memories of a high school class. But Ed Pearthree and several other residents of the Westminster at Lake Ridge retirement community are finding their woodshop glory days are still ahead. They donate time and woodworking skills to repair beloved but beat up furnishings for their community.

“Often furniture gets damaged in a move. We get the legs put back on and the broken dresser back to usefulness again,” explains Pearthree.

A group of volunteers work primarily for the over 200 residents, fixing broken chairs, tables, repairing damaged family heirloom furniture. While all community residents are permitted to use the shop, most people send things to the team of woodworking volunteers.

As a child, Pearthree played in his grandfather’s cabinet making shop. During a stint in the Army Ed spent his off duty hours renovating his home. Everywhere the Army transferred Ed, his woodworking tools would go. When Ed chose Westminster at Lake Ridge 4 years ago as his retirement home, the tools moved in with him and he joined the woodshop. Today, Ed is the “foreman” of the shop.

Dick Parkinson worked in computers for Eastman Kodak. “Woodworking is a lifelong interest, it is the opposite of what I did professionally,” says Dick. He moved to Westminster at Lake Ridge three years ago with experience in repair and refinishing wood and caning chairs. This summer, he is caning an 1880’s chair, fixing a broken cabinet and plans to tackle several other caning projects.

Doug Borden joined the Westminster Woodworkers with little to no experience, but is learning the craft from the other men. “Ed is a patient teacher, and I now specialize in chairs. We work to help others in our community,” he says while adding glue to a chair joint.

Susan Lasher, Director of Life Enrichment says, “The woodworkers built the original benches embedded in the community landscape, they machined plaques for our craft fair projects, and designed attractive individual wooden mailboxes for our residents’ doors. Over the years, they have given so much to the community.”

The woodworkers are busy with a waiting list of projects. When they get a call, they visit a resident’s apartment to assess whether or not the furniture is repairable. On one such visit, they found a large antique chest of drawers missing three legs and sitting precariously on stacks of books.

The volunteers work independently, as their schedule permits, and they gather on Tuesday afternoons and work collegially on their assigned projects, joking and enjoying each other’s company. Each on his own workbench or machine, the place is buzzing with the passion of both students and teachers in the Westminster at Lake Ridge Woodshop.

Someday, they hope to have time to make a new sign for the woodshop door.

Westminster at Lake Ridge is a Continuing Care Retirement Community located next to the historic, riverside Town of Occoquan, Virginia just across the river from Fairfax County and 30 minutes from Washington, D.C. Residents enjoy wellness and lifelong learning opportunities, the choice of maintenance-free cottage or apartment living, housekeeping, dining, parking, transportation and on-site amenities all in a beautiful, wooded campus environment featuring two ponds, gardens and trails to the Occoquan River. Visit wlrva.org for more information, or call 703-496-3440.

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