New Olathe business offering woodworking classes, mentorships for kids and teens

OLATHE, Kan. -- A new business is opening its doors to young people in hopes that it will get them to put down their phones and pick up a trade.

Deb Giudeicessi is the owner of The DIY Woodshop, located on North Lindenwood Drive in Olathe. She got involved with woodworking when she was 12.

Part of her business plan focuses specifically on training young people how to work with their hands.

“They’re always on their cellphones and video games, and I was like, 'We can’t wait until they’re 18 to get them into woodworking,'” Giudeicessi said. “It’s too late. They will have picked up other skills and trades.”

Giudeicessi said a lot of shops don’t like to work with minors because of liability reasons.

“The liability insurance is significantly higher if you’re going to be working with youth, but I decided to go ahead and pay the price,” she said.

The DIY Woodshop offers group classes, for beginners and the most advanced, and one-on-one mentorships. They also pre-cut wood if a kid isn’t ready to work with power tools.

“Once you learn how to build things with your hands and figure things out, it carries over in all sorts of problem-solving skills,” Giudeicessi said.

For more than a year, Laine Tysver looked for a wood shop that would allow her 12-year-old son to hone his woodworking skills, but she kept getting turned away.

“None of them would allow a kid of his age to come in and do any work with them,” Tysver said.

She was elated when The DIY Woodshop agreed to mentor her son, Jacob.

“I was really excited that someone would help him,” Tysver said. “He’s got a lot of great ideas. He needed someone to help him finish them.”

Jacob used to work on woodworking projects with his grandfather, Jim, until he passed in December 2017 in a crash. Jacob said he didn’t know what to do when his grandfather died.

“It was really special and a lot of fun for me,” he said.

He was pared with Bob McCall, a mentor and foreman at the shop.

“[Mentoring] gives me an opportunity to pass on information someone has passed onto me throughout the years,” MCall said.

Unbeknownst to everyone involved, Jacob’s grandfather was a big part of McCall’s life nearly 30 years ago when he played baseball.

“That time we got to spend on the baseball field or in the car with Jim was a glimpse of family we didn’t normally get to taste, and it was big for my life,” McCall said.

“It’s pretty amazing,” Jacob’s mom said. “I know [my dad] put it all together. He orchestrated the whole thing for sure.”

The DIY Woodshop held a soft opening last month. They also offer classes and mentorships for people with disabilities, special needs, veterans, retirees and parties.

To learn more about the shop, click here.

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