STEVENSVILLE – Most weeks, Daniel Pacheco helps his father feed, clothe and care for his four siblings, after their mother was deported to Mexico.

This week he spent in Stevensville, building a chair and his future.

Pacheco was one of five students who attended the third annual Chidwick Scholarship Woodworking Camp at the Chidwick School of Fine Woodworking.

Each year, five North Salem High School students from Salem, Oregon, receive scholarships for the program started by Andy Chidwick and his friend Dean Mattson, who heads the North Salem High Woods Manufacturing Program.

Not only do participants learn technical woodworking skills, they also learn about leadership and teamwork, and how to observe and draw inspiration from their surroundings, said Chidwick, who owns the school and puts on the camp in Stevensville.

“What we’re trying to do is build men and women of character,” he said.

The kids who attend the Chidwick program are smart and talented, but come from disadvantaged households and have limited opportunities, he said.

“These kids are the ones who are overcoming so much to better themselves. We’re just the cheerleaders,” he said.

The weeklong program in the Bitterroot Valley complements Mattson’s program.

About 500 students go through the nationally recognized program at North Salem each year, said Mattson, who has changed the program from a dumping ground for unmotivated students into a program that inspires achievement and provides lifelong opportunities.

“What the world considered trash, we considered priceless,” Mattson said Thursday.

The woodworking program offers the equivalent of a national certification credential upon completion, as well as connections with manufacturing company leaders around the country who are eager to employ skilled graduates, he said.

Encouragement from industry leaders and recognition from various organizations reinforces for kids that what they’re doing – and who they are – is important, he said. “It all adds up and it all changes their hearts.”

“I probably wouldn’t want to do woodworking without their motivation,” said Tyler Johnson, the Chidwick program’s first female attendee.

Hearing from real-world mentors that she is good at woodworking reinforces the rising senior’s passion for creating objects from wood, hopefully as a career, she said.

Like Johnson, Pacheco has found reinforcement of his goals through woodworking classes and said he sees himself working in the industry.

“It’s something that I feel like I have more of a connection with than anything else,” he said.

Reporter Alice Miller can be reached at 523-5251 or at alice.miller@missoulian.com.

Reporter Alice Miller can be reached at 523-5251 or at alice.miller@missoulian.com.

(4) comments

thomascash
thomascash

What about the obvious story about the deportation of the dear wife/mother? This feel good puff piece proves the Missoulian is less than a shadow of its former self in the glory days of Watergate. At least send a low/no paid intern from the J School to ask some questions, check some INS records and bring the poingnant human side of deportation to tug at our heart strings? Being an American is a privilege, not a planetary right. We are a club, with membership dues and responsibilities. What kind of club lets anyone and everyone join by walking in the door and demanding membership?. Stay in your own country and make it right. Don't run away from your Guatemalan or Nicaraguan problems. Stay there and fight for your rights. Why have boundaries if they don't mean anything?

Cabinetmaker
Cabinetmaker

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Statue of Liberty

Stillmike Miller
Stillmike Miller

That's right, Cabinetmaker, and all those people came here and registered LEGALLY, signing in at Ellis Island.

Stillmike Miller
Stillmike Miller

Agreed!

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