Thursday, September 27, 2012
The steady hum of a scroll saw isn’t an uncommon sound during the first half of the week at Garden Plaza in Ooltewah.
The whirring of the tool doesn’t denote construction taking place, it’s the sound of residents hard at work in the scroll saw class Collegedale resident Pam Lewis leads and assists Monday through Wednesday.
“Anybody can do it,” said resident Peggy Macellan. “We’ve had 95-year-old people and people with Parkinson’s in here. Pam will not let you fail.”
According to Lewis, the saw is set up so that it’s impossible for residents to cut themselves, adding that even those with illnesses or disabilities have been able to participate.
Originally Lewis said she planned on bringing her friend’s scroll saw to Garden Plaza for two or three classes, but the residents enjoyed it so much that the retirement community’s administration set up the saw in an empty apartment. As the classes continued to grow in popularity, the saw was relocated to a permanent location and the facility purchased an additional saw for residents.
Lewis said she encourages the residents to try making new items and provides pattern books for them so they can learn to make increasingly difficult projects.
“She puts confidence in us,” said resident Jerry Holdridge, who is Lewis’ father. “We started out with little cars and thought ‘Hey, this is fun.’ We are always progressing with what we make and we never get tired of it.”
Before working with the scroll saw, Lewis said Holdridge had never really pursued any creative outlets, but now he never stops making items with the saw.
“For my family, since Dad’s never really been artistic, for us to have something he’s made is pretty awesome,” she said.
Other residents like Macellan routinely make items to give away to their families or friends.
“The main thing is that it gives us a way to do something for someone else that means something,” she said.
Over the last year residents have made everything from toy cars to elaborate wall hangings. They are currently in the process of making more toy cars for foster children in the area and welcome any wood donations.