Refurbishing Fine Wood Furniture Restores Lives
Special to GTR Newspapers
CERTIFIED TALENT: DeAngela, right, who has become a certified craftswoman, works to repair a chair with Nancy Weber, director of special projects for CertiRestore.
GTR Newspapers photo
There are certain things people yearn for about “the good old days.” Master craftsmanship is one of them. Many people have found themselves saying, “You just can’t find people who do that quality of work anymore,” or, “Real craftsmanship is hard to find.”
CertiRestore, located at 4157 S. 88th E. Ave. in Tulsa, offers craftsmanship in a very interesting context.
CertiRestore is a program of Resonance Center for Women, Inc. Resonance has offered programs and services that lead to self-sufficiency for women and families for 30 years. It is the only agency in Tulsa offering gender specific programming in workforce development to female ex-offenders.
Cari Marshall, owner and operator of L&M Office Furniture in Tulsa, who was instrumental in the development of the CertiRestore program says, “The biggest problems these women face upon leaving the system are finding jobs, homes and childcare. Putting a steady paycheck in their hands while they continue as a part of a monitored program goes a long way towards creating self-sufficiency. It’s a very exciting program.”
“CertiRestore restores these women’s lives,” says operations manager Delores Beeler. “We operate on the principle of ‘restoring the past for the future.’” The business is a franchise operation that originated in Fargo, N.D., in 1989.
Resonance evaluated the CertiRestore franchise and decided that the operation was ideally suited to its mission. Nancy Weber, director of special projects for Resonance, says, “We purchased the franchise in July 2006 with donations from foundations and private individuals. We are currently working on grants to increase our funding and recently received a $165,200 venture grant from the Tulsa Area United Way.”
CertiRestore’s first participant is DeAngela. She is an ex-felon who served two years on a drug-related conviction. DeAngela is articulate, intelligent, gregarious and motivated.
“I was so excited about this program that I applied as soon as I heard about it. I interviewed and on April 17, I started the program,” DeAngela says. “I received excellent training in master craftsmanship furniture restoration and I am working full-time and going to school. I completed a computer keyboarding class and received an ‘A’. I plan on attending TCC for the fall semester.”
DeAngela takes full responsibility for her past. She makes no excuses.
“I can’t change the past,” she says, “but I take responsibility for it. I have faith and hope. I want to inspire others.”
She emphasizes the radical difference that Resonance has made in her life through the ongoing support, counseling and training that it has provided, and continues to provide, during this transitional time.
In addition to the “hard skills” training in master craftsmanship furniture restoration, CertiRestore’s program participants receive “soft skills” training. Weber explains, “Soft skills are life skills, developing professionalism and a strong work ethic, learning constructive communication with colleagues and supervisors, and developing self-confidence.”
CertiRestore’s second participant Jenny, who is on probation for a drug related conviction, started shortly after DeAngela. “I started in April,” she says. “First, I went to Fargo with Delores for two weeks of training. It was demanding, but I enjoyed it. It’s great to come here every day, work hard and see the results. I love it.”
She has developed an interest in business administration and is currently working on her GED with plans to continue her education. Jenny hopes to eventually work her way into a business administration position at CertiRestore, or work with one of the other businesses that will be developed as CertiRestore becomes a self-sufficient enterprise.
According to Weber, self-sufficiency is the primary goal of the business model. “By the end of 2009 the program is projected to begin showing a profit, which will get rolled over into other Resonance programs. Our goal with the CertiRestore program is three-fold: developing individuals’ self-sufficiency, program self-sufficiency and Resonance self-sufficiency.”
Beeler says, “We bring these women into the program, provide them with real world professional experience, counseling and support services. The goal is to add two new program participants every three months until we have eight. The program lasts two years. After spending two years at CertiRestore, the women have developed the hard and soft skills that enable them to successfully transition into the professional sector. CertiRestore operates on the basis of “each one teaches one,” meaning that as a woman successfully phases through her two years at CertiRestore, she passes on her skills to the incoming participants.”
Beeler states the two requirements to apply at CertiRestore: “You must be female and have a felony conviction.”
Both DeAngela and Jenny have turned their felony convictions into a positive experience. They have taken responsibility for their pasts and made a change.
“The CertiRestore program has provided the support for me to move forward with hope and determination,” says DeAngela.
When asked what their favorite thing about CertiRestore is, Jenny mentions working.
“I do caning, rushing, weaving, refinishing, and I’m good at it! Each project is unique. I value the job stability, being able to manage a budget, plan for my future and work towards my goals.”
DeAngela says, “It’s a foundation for me and I’ll build on it to achieve my career goals. CertiRestore has put so much in perspective for me.”
About CertiRestore: The program offers professional master craftsmanship restoration of fine wood furniture. Estimates are offered free of charge. Pick-up and delivery is available at an additional cost. Customers can drop off their pieces at: 4157 S. 88th E. Ave. between Memorial Drive and Mingo Road.
For more information about CertiRestore powered by Resonance, or for a representative to speak to a group about CertiRestore or other Resonance programs, contact Nancy Weber at (918) 632-0040, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Web site is www.resonancetulsa.org/certirestore.