After Carolyn left her partner of 23 years, she found herself alone, unemployed and standing in a food bank lineup in Vancouver. One day, while standing in that line, Carolyn overheard several women talking to each other about a carpentry program for women being offered in The Downtown Eastside. She located the training facility and a few days later, she enrolled in The Woman’s Home Improvement course (now called Women in the Trades), which is run by Tradeworks Training Society.

Carolyn quickly learned how to use various tools and especially liked the compound mitre saw and drills. Her instructor was instrumental in teaching the women how to create wooden products using the right tools and providing them with the basic essential business lessons on how to run a small business. After completing the program, Carolyn and a few other graduates stayed with Tradeworks and launched an enterprise project called Tradeworks Custom Products. The purpose of this project was to utilize their new skills, perfect their craftsmanship and gain valuable work experience, while bringing in an income for themselves.

Since then, Tradeworks Custom Products has flourished into a respectable company as they have created quality pieces for Concert Properties, Salient, Van City and Polygon. Making custom-made hardwood pens has become a new passion for Carolyn after she learned how to use the Lathe machine. She found discarded pieces of recycled wood around The Downtown Eastside, which inspired her to create beautiful laser engraved pens. Her passion for woodworking and her desire to continually learn new skills has led her to be successful in the trades and build her self-confidence. Her motivation and desire to succeed has allowed her to continue to be creative by producing various types of pens.

Carolyn has become a great role model and inspiration to women in The Downtown Eastside.

Program graduate: August 2008