Community Carpentry Project Celebrates Grand Opening March 1

Community Carpentry Project Celebrates Grand Opening March 1

Carolyn Cauthen, president of Birmingham's Inglenook Neighborhood, and David VanWilliams, Inglenook Neighborhood Secretary, partnered to create the Community Carpentry Project, which was awarded $25,000 in this year's Community Health Innovation Awards. VanWilliams is also Master Carpenter for their project, which aims to teach carpentry skills to individuals in a drug rehabilitation program.

The program will host a grand opening this Saturday, March 1, at 10 a.m. at the True Vine Evangelical Church, 4030 40th Terrace North, Birmingham, AL 35217. The event is open to the public.

OGC awards (1).JPGCauthen discussed she and VanWilliams' experience with the Community Health Innovation Awards with the UAB CCTS.

How did you hear about the CHIA awards?

We heard about the CHIA award through our Neighborhood Association.  The Inglenook NA officers participated in a UAB citywide Community Health Survey [sponsored by UAB CCTS' One Great Community].  The survey asked what concerns our leaders had in their neighborhood.  We responded to the survey. 

What made you decide to apply for the awards? 

We wanted to make a difference in our community.  The neighborhood had changed so much over the last several years. Crime had increased; the landscape of our neighborhood had changed for the worst. We wanted to improve the lifestyle of our residents to give them something to look forward to and to make them more health conscious. We registered for the workshop to learn more about the CHIA grant.

Provide a description of your project/the idea behind it, and why you felt it was well suited for the CHIA process?

The Community Carpentry Project will focus on teaching basic carpentry skills to young adults between the ages of 18-25. It will encourage our students to continue their education at Lawson State Community College. We will partner with True Vine Evangelical Church and their drug rehab program to teach skills for their members to find employment. We want to provide an opportunity for our students and community to look within and have a desire to make a difference in their neighborhood, community and city. 

Taking the CHIA survey helped us focus on the issues facing our neighborhood every day. It made us ask ourselves what can we do, not what someone else can do for our community.

We talk each month at our neighborhood meeting about abandoned houses, crime, vacant lots, health issues, and the lack of citizens getting outside their homes and utilizing the community recreation center and library. We felt that the CHIA award would give us an opportunity to make some changes in our community.

What will the CHIA funding allow you to do, that you weren’t able to do otherwise on your project?

The CHIA funding is such a blessing for our community. It is giving us an opportunity to not only encourage the young adults in our community to seek employment; but also giving us the tools to teach a skill. Since we have received the grant we have an opportunity to teach GED classes for our students and community residence that do not have a high school diploma. The CHIA funding will make a huge difference in the Inglenook community.

What would you ultimately like to see your project do?

We would like every student/person that completes our project to receive employment with a company to enable them to support their families. We would like the Community Carpentry Project to give our students the confidence to enroll in college and become a productive citizen.  We would like for this project to open doors that have been closed to so many people.  We also, would like for this opportunity to spread from the Inglenook community to all communities across the city and the state of Alabama.

How has this experience affected your image of UAB?

It is really amazing how an organization such as UAB can reach in to the community and touch so many people. I always looked at UAB as the largest hospital and educational facility in the State of Alabama. We are so thankful to UAB and the CHIA team to think outside the box to improve our community, city and state.  

The supporters and benefactors of the UAB CHIA awards and CCTS should continue to support the work being done, so the CHIA team can continue to develop innovative projects to improve the health and wellness of the citizens of Birmingham.

In closing, the CHIA team made all us feel comfortable and encouraged us when we needed it the MOST!