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Retirement in Florida (complete with a woodshop)

comments (0) June 14th, 2009 in blogs

BetsyE Betsy Engel, contributor
thumbs up 9 users recommend

One of the neighborhoods, The Island
The shop entrance
Don Draggoo and Jim Davey at work in the shop
The finished cross and alter
 - CLICK TO ENLARGE Photo: Courtesy of Shell Point Retirement Community

Recently I received an email about a retirement community in Florida that I thought was pretty interesting. Jessica Clark and Ted Yeatts wrote about the woodshop at Shell Point Retirement Community in Fort Myers, Florida and I thought I would share some of it with you.

“One of the most popular areas at Shell Point is the resident Woodshop. The Woodshop has approximately 75 members, but a core group of regulars can almost always be found at their benches.  “We have about 15 woodworkers who come in every single day like it’s a job,” said Woodshop supervisor Phil Nedeau.  Phil trains newcomers in the operation of the tools and orients them to Woodshop policies; but since the Woodshop is a volunteer program run by and for residents, he relies on these regulars to offer advice to, and help ensure the safety of, those just starting out in the Woodshop. Shell Point resident Bob Selkirk, the Woodshop volunteer chairman, originally came to work at Shell Point in 1985 as a part-time Woodshop supervisor. He was soon followed by Wes Allison who said, “If it wasn’t for the Woodshop being here, I wouldn’t be at Shell Point, it gives us something to do.”  Once both men retired from employment at Shell Point, they became Shell Point residents and continue to enjoy using the Woodshop regularly.

All of the tools have been purchased by residents and donated to the Woodshop. When Bob Sanford decided to move to Shell Point from New Jersey in 1992, he called Selkirk and asked him what he should do with all his tools, including a large table saw.  Selkirk told him that if he couldn’t give them to his sons, then he should bring them with him.  “He was excited,” remembers Selkirk.  “He was able to move here and bring one of the loves of his life with him.”  Now, these tools are used by so many other residents as the Woodshop bustles with resident wood workers, turners, and carvers taking ordinary wood and turning it into art. 

One recent project was completed for a very special area of Shell Point Retirement Community.  The Larsen Pavilion Skilled Nursing facility went through a complete renovation which included a new on-site chapel.  When it came time to choose a cross and altar table for the new Pavilion Chapel, Village Church Minister of Worship and Music Randy Woods turned to Shell Point residents Rev. Jim Davey and Rev. Don Draggoo.  “I knew of their artistry, skills, and the quality of their craftsmanship,” he said. “I also knew of their dedication to the church.”

Jim and Don agreed to build the cross and altar table, but were unsure about designing such important elements.  “We are craftsmen, not designers,” said Jim.  So, they turned to Donald W. Draggoo, Don’s son, who is an interior designer.  Together, Donald and Randy looked at the new chapel, toured area churches, and settled on an original design that incorporated the space’s signature stained glasswork. 

After fours months of planning, Jim and Don began the work of transforming rough sawn red oak into the beautiful final products adorning the chapel today.  Over the course of two months the men worked together, often anticipating each other’s thoughts, to fit the wood to the cross’s aluminum frame and to build the table’s base and floating top.  It took them 176 hours of work in the Shell Point Woodshop.

This is just one of the many special stories that come out of the Shell Point Woodshop.  Everyday, more stories come to life as the residents create beautiful masterpieces out of wood."

Do any of you live in a place as cool as this?


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