My name is Eli and I’m an Apprentice at Urban Boatbuilders. I was encouraged by my case manager to join when I was going through a really hard transition to a new home. I officially started my apprenticeship the first week of October 2015. Within the first month of joining I had realized that I had a really natural talent when working with wood, especially making paddles for the canoes. Before Urban Boatbuilders I had never once worked with wood and never really thought about it, but shortly after joining I caught on quickly and really enjoyed what I was doing. Urban Boatbuilders has given me a sense of responsibility and belonging, teaching me the importance of working in a professional environment that has lots of room for mistakes and learning.
Before I had come to Urban Boatbuilders I had never had a job and was quickly failing out of school. I knew I needed a job but I had no idea how to go about getting one. I was also moving out of a friend’s home into another transitional housing program, having already been homeless for a year. Urban Boatbuilders had given me the motivation I needed to not become helplessly depressed during this transition.
The environment here is one of the most supportive ones I’ve been in, everyone being encouraged to learn and not be held back by their mistakes. Everyone is treated fairly no matter their background or identity, and those who need extra support can get it. Urban Boatbuilders has been one of the best ways for me to branch out my art skills from just drawing, and has even given me opportunities for designing things in the workshop, including our t-shirts designs and the Valentine’s Day cards. Working here is, in my opinion, one of the best ways to teach youth to be responsible in a setting that is forgiving of mistakes and accepting of flaws.