Hefner finds passion in woodcraft
This January, West Virginia Uncovered journalism students spent a winter immersion weekend in Pocahontas County, developing five multimedia stories. This is the third of these stories, which are being published in The Pocahontas Times in subsequent weeks. Next week: Three generations on the McNeel farm.
Summer Ko, Mary Power, and Cody Wiegand
West Virginia Uncovered
When it comes to the art of woodcrafting, Mike Hefner is both talented and passionate. Five years ago, he began volunteering at Pocahontas Woods in Mar- linton. Now, Hefner is at the woodworking school five days a week, teaching apprentices and crafting fine furniture for the people of the community.
Ten years ago, Hefner was working construction when he was involved in an accident that would change his life forever. While operating a Bobcat, he moved too close to the edge of a hill and fell 200 feet. The fall broke a bone in his back and left him paralyzed from the waist down.
For the first few years after his accident, Hefner stayed at home with his daughter Elizabeth, who was six months old at the time. When she began attending school his role as ﾑMr. Mom' during the day lessened and he needed something to occupy his time.
Former instructor at Pocahontas Woods, John Friel, invited Hefner to work and started teaching him from the first mo- ment he arrived. Pocahontas Woods creates valuable pieces such as hutches made of Sassafras and Wormy Chestnut as well as cabinets and cupboards for kitchens. Specially commissioned pieces and pieces for nearby galleries are just some of the creations by apprentices and volunteers like Hefner.
Hefner said, "At the end of the day being able to look back and see you've ac- complished something, it makes you feel good whether you're getting paid for it or not."
Pocahontas Woods is a non-profit organization, run by a board of directors and Chief Instructor John Wesley Williams. Work is showcased and sold at multiple galleries in Lewisburg, Thomas, Beckley, and Snowshoe, as well as online at http://pocahontaswoods.com.