There I was, trying to get a few things done at my mom’s dining room table, when Melvin arrived to pick up my great-grandmother’s couch. It will be refinished by homeless kids and adults, and Melvin is teaching them his trade. He’s done a few pieces for my mom and every one has been beautiful.
I hadn’t had the chance to speak with him before. It turns out he just got a grant from the city for his work.
His story goes like this: He was 14 and homeless after grandmother passed (his mom died when he was little). A small, older woman asked him if he wanted to learn to cane furniture, but wouldn’t pay him until he got it just right. And he did. Then he learned to rebuild, reupholster and refinish. He worked for her until she passed – fixing, beautifying and delivering old and antique furniture. Now he tears apart broken-down chests of drawers with a group of kids and shows them how to put them back together.
I have been really blessed in the past year to meet more than a few people whose lives have gone from desperate circumstances to surviving, to thriving, who then use their fresh success to help the next person. Melvin lights up with gratitude and hope when he tells you that a gang member handed him his gun, saying “I don’t want to do this anymore. You said I’m a keeper, that you can teach me to do this. So teach me.”
You meet a person like Melvin and you can’t help but want the whole world to open up for him.
Here’s a little video that Angie’s List did about him:
If you read this in Central Ohio and are in the market for some refinishing work (or know anyone who is), check him out at Browsers Welcome.