Ear Hustle

Former Gang Bangers Changed Their Lives Thanks To An Artistic Outlet

People who have made choices in this life always have an opportunity to make corrections to choices that have taken them down a path of self-destruction.  Redemption is available to all those who choose to seek it.  Well a group of young men who went down the path of gang involvement and running the streets made the choice to redeem themselves and found that they were quite artistic.  With the aid of an outreach program calls 118 Designs, the young men have gotten a new lease on their lives and art turning heads in the process.

Read more as reported by 11 Alive:


SEATTLE – Their lives once meant running the streets of Seattle’s Rainier Valley, leading to hard times in prison. But that life is all behind a group of former gang members thanks to an unexpected artistic outlet called 118 Designs.

“I would be dead for sure. I probably would’ve been running with my father. He was murdered a month and a half ago,” said Jamar Bovan, a 118 Designs member.

Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission Street Outreach program started 118 Designs in 2013. A carpenter teaches former gang members how to restore lumber and transform it into high-end furniture. They build signature pieces of furniture and earn a living selling handcrafted chairs and tables. Many members had a hard time finding jobs when they got of prison and had a felony conviction on their records.

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photo credit: Seattle Union Gospel Mission

“We’re all meant to create. It’s pretty powerful to see young men and myself included when you create a piece and you have pride in that piece it goes a long way,” said Bobby Martin, Street Outreach and 118 Designs Director.

118 Designs hasn’t spent a dime on lumber. Every piece of wood is salvaged with items like pallets from grocery stores and lumber from home demolitions. The group’s name was inspired by the community the teens and men live in. Rainier Valley’s zip code is 98118.

There are between 30 and 40 carpenters but the shop has a lot of young people who would like to be a part of the furniture making business but the program doesn’t have the capacity.

For more information on donations, volunteering, and how to buy 118 Designs furniture, click on this link.

Source: 11 Alive

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