Wilmot Seniors Woodworking Centre 'a hidden gem' for people 50 and older


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Sep 09, 2023

Wilmot Seniors Woodworking Centre 'a hidden gem' for people 50 and older

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For close to 30 years, Wilmot residents have been putting their time to good use at the Wilmot Seniors' Woodworking and Craft Centre.

Members of this club make items from birdhouses to tea boxes and shelves out of wood.

John Gruhl, a former president of the club and a member for 25 years, said belonging to this club gives a sense of satisfaction especially when you make these items.

"Rather than sitting at home in your rocking chair, you're better to be out doing something. And this is a great place to be doing it," said Gruhl whose current project is a tea box.

Many years ago, a longtime housebuilder in Wilmot, Leonard Bechtel had the idea of a woodworking club and took it to the then mayor, Lynn Myers and it was supported by the township, Gruhl recalled.

Now the club has about 70 members, with about nine women joining this winter.

When you take a walk around the 7,000 sq. ft., there are raw materials like wood and glass that people use for making items, unfinished projects with name tags and big machinery for doing the craft.

To belong to this group you must be 50 years or older and pay a first-time membership fee of $110, after that, it's $90 a year.

Sue Voll said it's a reasonable membership fee especially since it covers the glass she uses in making items from stained glass.

"Unless there's something very, very unique I want to make, I don't have to pay for the glass," said Voll, who moved to Wilmot in 2021 and has been a member of the club for a year and a half.

"It's a hidden gem," she said of the club.

She's always loved items made out of glass and since there was an opportunity to learn, she jumped on it.

"You see things like this and admire the talent and the artwork and you think, ‘there's no way I could do that.’ Well, you can," Voll said, adding that you just need a good teacher and patience to learn.

Gruhl agreed. "When I came here 25 (years ago), I'd never done any woodworking in my life. So there were some old Mennonites here that showed me what to do," he said.

Even though many seniors go to the centre at 27 Beck St, Baden, for craft, they also contribute in other aspects to make the club work.

Some people clean, Gruhl answers the phone and processes payment and they have foremen who teach people who are new and not used to woodworking how to do stuff.

One of the newer members is Tyrone Miller, who likes to be referred to as the young old guy and is making a walnut coffee table for his family.

He's only been a member of the group for two months and he sees the impact the group has not only on seniors but on the community as a whole.

He said this group fixes items for people who have an emotional attachment to items that may have been passed down for generations.

The club also donates items to other clubs because they received favours from them in the past, Gruhl said.

After many years of running, the impact on the lives of Wilmot seniors can't be overemphasized.

Voll said she's made good friends from being in the club.

Gruhl added that it "allows people to get out and mix in the community. And you have friends here. A fellowship."

Visit https://www.facebook.com/wilmotseniorsworkshop or call 519-634-5357 for information on how to become a member.

STORY BEHIND THE STORY: When Seyitan Moritiwon saw the letter the Wilmot Seniors' Woodworking and Craft Centre wrote to Wilmot Township at the April 17 council meeting, she decided to do a story on the club and the impact it has on seniors.

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