The request came out of the blue. Several weeks ago, long-term partner Whole Foods Market Westford contacted UTEC Woodworking, one of our social enterprises, with an urgent request. They needed two extra-large (48’ x 12’), high-quality custom cutting boards for a new charcuterie display. They planned to unveil the new display in less than a week. Could UTEC Woodworking deliver?
As an added twist, the Woodworking program manager was on vacation. But UTEC saw this timing as an opportunity and presented the challenge to the young adults in the Woodworking crew. Would someone take on this special assignment, essentially as an independent project, and get it done well and quickly?
Without hesitation, Leeno, one of our enterprise-level young adults with considerable woodworking experience, raised his hand to take it on. Remembering this moment, Will Ferreira, UTEC’s Pathways Manager, started laughing: “I reminded Leeno that I had absolutely no woodshop skills, zilch, so this is your project. I’ll support you in whatever ways I can, but the actual work is up to you. Before I knew it, Leeno had a pad and pencil out and was drawing up his plans.”
With only a few days before Whole Foods Market expected their delivery, Leeno got to work. As he explained to Will, the challenge wasn’t so much the construction – after all, the process was similar to the smaller boards UTEC Woodworking produces regularly for Whole Foods Market stores across the region. The challenge was in getting all the steps done in time and in a professional manner.
Leeno moved through each step with the efficiency of a veteran craftsman – the wood selection and sizing, the gluing, cutting, sanding, and treating – completing his work on time, and everyone was delighted with the beautiful results.
“It was great to see Leeno and Will coming into our store carrying the boards,” said Todd Johnson, Westford’s Store Team Leader. “They both had big smiles on their faces, and when I saw what Leeno had accomplished, I had a big smile of my own. We love what he did and it was perfect for our needs.”
Driving back to UTEC, Will asked Leeno how it all felt. Leeno smiled again, thought for a moment, and said, “It was great. I’m really proud of what I did.”
Source: Lowell Sun