|Inside modified shipping containers – once used to import goods to the U.S. – Bridging AZ has created a new workshop where disabled, unemployed and formerly homeless American veterans will learn how to build and design furniture and other products made-in-the-USA. In the process, they’ll rebuild their own lives, regaining confidence, learning basic and advanced woodworking skills and helping their community.
That’s the essence of the Veterans Furniture Project, the new social enterprise underway at Bridging.
Featured video: Making wooden pens
One of our beginning woodworking projects is creating a wooden pen. The video above shows both veterans and volunteers working on a mini lathe to shape, smooth and finish the wood, then inserting the components to make a finished pen.
What we make: New lives
The Veterans Furniture Project will produce furniture and woodcrafts, but those items will be secondary to our main mission: Providing a meaningful experience for veterans, especially those who are disabled or who have been unemployed for a long time. The workshop aims to engage veterans in a workplace setting, teach them new skills and instill confidence.
Where we work
The VFP woodworking shop is located at Bridging’s Mesa warehouse in four 8-by-40-foot metal shipping containers. The containers were placed on a large cement pad and have been modified and joined together around a central courtyard. The woodshop is stocked with basic woodworking tools — such as power saws, sanders and planers — and some advanced woodworking equipment — such as a computer-controlled routing system.
New life for reclaimed materials
In many cases, the Veterans Furniture Project is able to use reclaimed, recycled or other second-hand materials. This video shows how the VFP turned reclaimed restaurant tabletops and bases from broken-in-shipment patio tables into sturdy tables for our clients moving out of homelessness.
One of the primary materials we use is flooring, new and reclaimed. The VFP has received some unusual donations, such as a significant portion of the maple basketball floor when Grand Canyon University renovated its arena. The Adirondack chair shown below is made of wood flooring.
How YOU can help
There are many ways you can help assure the success of the Veterans Furniture Project:
- Donate to Bridging AZ (see our donations page) and designate your donation for the VFP
- Donate tools or materials (use our VFP contact form)
- Volunteer to help at the workshop, especially if you have woodworking skills (use our VFP contact form)
Are you a veteran? Interested in a job or volunteering?
The Veterans Furniture Project is focused on helping veterans who are disabled, unemployed or facing other difficult circumstances. We normally work through the Veterans Administration and social service agencies to identify veterans who may benefit through their participation in the project. If you’re a veteran and would like to be considered for one of our workshop positions, use our VFP contact form to send us a note.
We’re grateful for their support
Bridging couldn’t have made the Veterans Furniture Workshop a reality without significant support from foundations, businesses, the community and individual donors. Contributors to the project include the following:
- Intel Corporation (via two Encore Fellowships), $50,000
- The Arizona Veterans Donation Fund, $12,500 and $20,000 grants
- Arizona Cardinals Charities, $5,000 grant
- The Sundt Foundation, $2,500 and $1,000 grants
- The Boeing Employees Community Fund of Arizona, $3,000 grant
- Safeway Foundation, $2,000 grant
- Executive Council Charities, $1,000 grant
- BobsCNC, in-kind donation of two computer-controlled router systems
- Grand Canyon University, basketball flooring donation
Contact the Veterans Furniture Project