Chris Giffrow is the Director of the Katz-Moses Woodworkers with Disabilities Fund. Today, he shares stories from what the KMWDF has accomplished so far — and what initiatives lie ahead.
When I started working with the Katz-Moses Woodworkers with Disabilities Fund in early 2022, I had very little idea what our impact would look and feel like.
It was hard to picture exactly what success would be and, to an extent, it sometimes still is.
Our target population for aid — woodworkers and makers with ADA recognized disabilities — is not a large one. However, they are an important one.
As Jonathan loves to emphasize, woodworking is one of the most cathartic things one can do.
Working with your hands is unparalleled in its therapeutic benefits, and we want to make that easier and more accessible to all.
In June of last year, the KMWDF launched the Build Up Initiative, linking local builders and volunteers to local aid recipients.
This was daunting in scale, utilizing the KM Tools team to assist in bringing community to folks all across the country who need it the most.
While finding this target population has proved to be the most difficult aspect of our mission, we came across some incredible people and some incredible stories along the way.
In the Midwest, we’ve had some great interactions between builders and aid recipients.
Tong, a former Marine with mobility issues and loss of sensation in his back and leg, was assisted by volunteer Chris from a couple states away.
Chris built him a gorgeous mini workbench and vise.
We’ve also got Tong in mind for some other shop improvements to help him pursue his craft around his physical limitations.
Then there’s Eric Spencley from Spencley Design Co. and Dan in Ohio.
When I saw Dan on our list, I immediately thought of YouTuber and Ohio native Eric Spencley.
Eric did a more accessible version of the low combination work horse for Dan, with a YouTube video, and even went so far as to get a number of varying sponsors and donors to pitch in extra tools and devices to make Dan’s time in the shop a whole lot easier.
We’re excited to be partnering up with Eric and having him spread the word on the KMWDF.
In fact, this singular build has sparked #ProjectBuildUp for 2023, an offshoot of the original initiative.
We’ll be pairing up “Friends of KMWDF”, Youtubers, and Content Creators from across the country, with individual recipients to help them overcome their biggest obstacles in the shop.
This ongoing project will hopefully highlight and inspire volunteers as well as applicants for aid.
Down south, Paul in Tennessee took care of Mike in Kentucky with another micro workbench and vise.
This story moves me the most as Mike is unable to speak without an assistive device. His disability has made building new relationships through woodworking a difficult one and the look on his face when Paul met him to deliver his build to him was priceless.
Two people, from completely different walks of life and situations, bonding over woodworking.
You can check out Paul's build video here.
The Build Up Initiative also sparked some other opportunities. Once the applications started rolling in, our applicants began indicating specific tool needs that they could benefit from.
Some as simple as more storage, and others a little more nuanced.
While these stories are great, our work still isn’t done. As always, we need your help to help the people who need it most.
First and foremost, if you are a potential recipient, apply. There’s no harm in seeing if you’re a fit.
If you know someone who may benefit from our services, encourage them to apply. Our goal is to give.
Secondly, donate. Your donations go directly back into resourcing this disabled woodworking community and making stories like this possible.
Finally, if you can’t donate, spread the message, spread the word.
Looking forward to continuing to serve you and this community in 2023.
Chris “from Cow Dog” Giffrow
Director – Katz Moses Woodworkers with Disabilities Fund
March is Disability Awareness Month — and during this month, a portion of all Katz-Moses Tools sales will go to the KMWDF.
That includes the new KM-18 Woodworking Mallet and all upcoming launches.
If you can’t volunteer or donate directly, get yourself some tools to help our cause!