HALO Makers helps Kansas City youth dealing with homelessness to learn life skills through woodworking | Kansas City

There are no woodworking prerequisites to get involved with HALO Makers. 

“A lot of them have struggled with homelessness and really terrible situations. It takes them away from things they’re worrying about and different life issues they’re going through,” Arnold says. “It’s a coping skill for them. Having a chance for them to get out of that environment, come work on the trays and see that the finished product is pretty amazing.”

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Since it’s uncommon for adolescents to have prior experience in woodworking, some of them can be standoffish when they first enter the workshop.

“But once they get into the process of it, I think that hands-on tactile process is so therapeutic,” Arnold says. “It’s really amazing to see.”

Arnold picks out the wood from Kansas City’s own Urban Lumber Company. Every now and then, she’ll take a few kids to the producer to see the selection process.

“They’re seeing that whole process of where it was before, and what it looked like before it was a smaller piece,” Arnold says.

HALO Makers only sells the finished trays through preordering on the HALO website to avoid other outlets taking a cut of the proceeds. Some of the funds go toward supplies, but most enter a scholarship fund for the participating kids. A tray costs $125, and the standard size is 8-to-9 inches wide and 16 inches long.

The program and resulting financial backing have already generated tangible benefits. One participant had experienced homelessness and other traumas in her early life but was later able to get her own apartment and seek further education with HALO’s help. Another was motivated to pursue a future in woodworking after the activity sparked a significant interest.


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