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Posts Tagged ‘Bethesda’

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Photo: David Sowells via Upworthy
Henry Sowells, 16, in his garage in Bethesda, Maryland. Sowells is selling homemade furniture and donating the profits to Bethesda Cares to help people experiencing homelessness.

Enterprising folks have taken advantage of being home all day to take on a new challenge. This high school student and his father enrolled in an online woodworking class. But they didn’t stop there.

As Teddy Amenabar reported in a July Washington Post article, “Three months ago, 16-year-old Henry Sowells didn’t know the first thing about woodworking. Now, he has people asking him to renovate their kitchens.

“Henry is quick to say he can’t install your granite countertops, but he can build you furniture out of pine. Henry, a rising junior at Walt Whitman High, has turned his budding hobby into an act of goodwill with help from his father, David. For every piece of furniture Henry builds and sells to neighbors, he is donating [the profits] to a local nonprofit, Bethesda Cares, which serves those experiencing homelessness in Montgomery County. …

“After schools shut down in the Washington region in mid-March because of the growing number of novel coronavirus cases, David and Henry started a six-week online woodworking course from Steve Ramsey, a YouTube creator who uploads instructional videos for those interested in learning the craft.

“When Henry’s high school classes moved online, Henry and his family noticed that the school district’s priority was making sure students with free and reduced-price meals had food.

There were frequent discussions around the Sowellses’ dinner table about the wealth disparity in the United States, which led Henry to his idea — to sell the furniture he has built and donate the profits to people nearby who are fighting hunger. …

“Henry sells seven different products for a variety of prices — a small bench costs $100, wooden crates are $35, and a patio table is $85. Each item on the website includes a cost breakdown for the parts and how much money would go to Bethesda Cares.

“For example, he explains that for the $100 bench, parts cost $60 and $40 goes to Bethesda Cares. Henry said some customers have paid more than the asking price, and he donates any extra money to the nonprofit.

“Most of the designs come from the tutorials that Henry followed with his dad. But he also created his own design for a raised planter bed after a request from a customer. …

“David Sowells learned the basics of woodworking along with Henry, but he said Henry runs the show. David’s contribution is that he drives three times a week to Home Depot so he can stock up on wood and other supplies. …

“Henry’s first orders came from dog walkers in his neighborhood, Woodhaven. To get the ball rolling, Henry made one of every product he offers and set up a display in his driveway. That way, when people walked by, they could see the furniture and take a flier to learn more about how to buy their own stool or bench. …

“Heading into the summer, Henry was going to intern at a local dentist’s office, but the coronavirus made that impossible. … Depending on how the school year goes, Henry’s plan is to keep building and selling furniture through the end of the year. Henry said he already has ideas to make cutting boards or other gifts around the holidays.”

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