My title is LaShawn L. Long. I’m at the moment incarcerated in Green Bay Correctional Institution. I accomplished the Cabinetry/Fine Woodworking vocational program right here and am now the tutor for the class. I wish to let you know my story of how this class and my boss have changed my life.
I’m a 30-year-old Black man with a tough background to say the least. After serving three years in a juvenile correctional facility, I used to be convicted of armed theft at age 18 and sentenced to 15 years in jail. I’m set to come back residence early 2023, at which level I will likely be 33 years previous and can have spent greater than 18 years of my life in a single jail or one other.
Because of the approach I lived my life, on the outdoors and inside these partitions, I gained a popularity for being vulnerable to violence and having a unfavourable disposition towards authority figures. I’ve been labeled every little thing from “menace to society,” to “high ranking/influential member of a gang,” to a “security risk” inside the establishments the place I’ve been housed over the years. And due to that, most individuals who don’t come from that life take these labels at face worth and restrict their interactions with me.
Throughout my time on this establishment, there have been two individuals who, even figuring out of my historical past, took the time to get to know me as an individual and allowed me the alternative to higher myself and my scenario. Those two individuals are Mr. Korey Heimke (the store’s teacher) and Mr. Greg Dausey (one other trainer right here inside the establishment). Both have fought for me when others wouldn’t.
My many conversations with these two males, and being out in the store creating my abilities and deepening my ardour for woodworking, have performed a serious half in my capability to remodel my life. It all has given me a unique kind of confidence in myself and my capabilities. And whereas I brazenly admit that I nonetheless have a number of tough edges, simply as with working with wooden, I do know now that with the proper set of abilities and instruments, and with effort and time, I’ll easy them over. I’ve been capable of step away from a lot of the negativity in my life and refocus that power into changing into a greater father, son, brother, uncle, and only a higher man general.
I work tirelessly day-after-day now to higher myself and the life I reside. And the store offers me the focus I want behind these partitions. The store is my place of tranquility! I’m able to go to work and immerse myself in my initiatives and, for that point, nothing else issues. To see my completed work, figuring out all that went into it, offers me a way of accomplishment that I now crave. I’m hooked for life!
My satisfaction in my work and my appreciation for the present Mr. Heimke has given me and my household are what retains me centered on the finish aim. I owe him a lot. I can’t and gained’t disappoint him after the second, third, and fourth probabilities he has given me alongside the approach. Not solely has he taken the time to show me woodworking, however he has additionally develop into a mentor in life to me. He has given me one other approach to take a look at and method the life I can construct for myself and my household and for that I’ll perpetually be grateful to him.
One day, I hope to put in writing a component two of this letter, from my personal store, and communicate to the progress I used to be capable of accomplish just because I used to be lucky sufficient to have individuals in my life who noticed the potential in me and refused to surrender on me.
That being stated, I wish to finish this with a message to your readers. A person’s previous doesn’t decide nor dictate his future! Even the worst of us are probably just one dialog, with the proper individual, away from making a constructive change to our lives. And you’ll by no means know when you’ll be a Mr. Heimke or Mr. Dausey to somebody when you by no means take the time to seek out out.
LaShawn L. Long is incarcerated in Green Bay Correctional Institution, the place he makes furnishings and cabinetry and teaches others to do the identical.
Woodworking behind jail partitions
Thanks to the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, we had an opportunity to speak to LaShawn through Zoom and ask about his woodworking. He’s been a woodworker for about 4 years, making cabinetry and furnishings commissioned by state businesses or staff in the corrections division. He works Monday via Friday in the store, making furnishings and mentoring these new to the program. There are 5 to seven woodworkers in the store at any given time.
We requested him what instruments he desires about getting when he units up his personal store as a civilian. “I’ve thought about this a lot,” he says. “A bandsaw and a tablesaw. We don’t have block planes here but I’d like to learn more about using hand tools.”
One of his favourite builds was a whole bed room set, together with a headboard with sliding doorways for storage, facet tables, and dressers. The hardest piece he’s made was a bent laminated, spalted maple bench with black walnut inlay. It took him a few month to make.
—Liz Knapp, Fine Woodworking