In honor of MLK, apprentice carpenters build 15 small bookcases

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Like many others, apprentice Naeem Khalifah, 23, from North Philly, pivoted his career this year from a desk job to carpentry. Now, he says, he feels more relaxed working with his hands instead of staring at a screen all day. He can drink tea in the morning instead of coffee.

“I’m a regular guy, I’m not a pro at this,…” Khalifah said. “You just need the tools to learn, they give you the tools.”

Naeem Khalifah, 23, is an apprentice in the program. He said he hoped to inspire children in his community to become carpenters. (Emily Rizzo / WHY)

He said he is delighted that libraries are showing children in his community that they too can be carpenters.

“They can see me doing it, and they can say, ‘Well, if he can do it, then I can do it,'” Khalifah said. you meet a lot of people, it’s a brotherhood. So that’s really what it’s about. »

This is the sixth year of the apprenticeship program, and for many students, entering CARP is like joining a collective, like a legacy. The program builds camaraderie between novices and experienced carpenters.

CARP apprentices line up to receive the supplies needed to build the small free libraries. (Emily Rizzo / WHY)

CARP was also created with the intention of bringing more women and people of color to the field, like Gina Yiantselis.

Yiantselis is a CARP alumni. She graduated three years ago and returned on Saturday to mentor current carpentry interns.

“I’m sure some of them are scared, so am I,” Yiantselis said. “You see a lot of people asking questions like, ‘Oh my God, I can’t swing a hammer as well as this person.’ But once upon a time, no one knew how to do anything.

Gina Yiantselis is a CARP graduate, “It gave me a career, something to be proud of, and something to be a part of that is way bigger than me,” she said. (Emily Rizzo / WHY)

“That’s why they chose you for this program, because you’re going to be able to learn,” added Yiantselis.

She walked down a hallway in the program building, pointing to class photos, from the 1970s, made up of 100% men.

“We don’t see a woman here until the early 80s,” Yiantselis said, “Let’s see, 1982 – there’s three there.”

Experienced carpenters help a CARP apprentice build a small free library. (Emily Rizzo / WHY)
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