The State of California offered me a Vocational Rehabilitation package once I was healthy enough. Not sure what to do I prayed. In the mean time I was asked to paint a few signs for a Festival. Painting those signs proved to be very uncomfortable, I felt like a sapling in a Redwood forest reaching for the light as I painted each letter. Come to find out I was using the wrong brushes with the wrong paint, but the client was happy. I crawled into bed that night with my computer and typed in Hand Lettered Signs. And then I had THE EXPERIENCE. Something rang through my body as I watched letters being painted, saying, "I have to do this with my life."
I asked around and was sent to Chuck Ellsworth, who took a look at my brushes and threw them away with a laugh I still hear years later. He took me on as an apprentice and I began to sweep, learn letter form and layout. As if to say "Yes, Lynnie, this is what you are supposed to do," Chuck was chosen out of all gilders in the United States of America to gild the Lincoln Hearse for the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's burial and the succession of the Civil War. We were being paid to make history, working with Veterans at Blue Ox Millworks in Eureka, California.
Out of that project the dream was forged: continue to pull in jobs that Veterans can apprentice on. Blue Ox Millworks resides in an ancient barn that houses the wood shop as well as a loft where Fiber Arts demonstrations happen: spinning and weaving. On fire from the Lincoln project we had lumber donated and built a loft so the Fiber arts area could expand while we set up an old style sign shop. But being right above an active mill means sawdust is constant, and sawdust and wet paint do not mix. I also found out I'm allergic to mold and raccoon poop, which comes with the ancient barn, so a search for a new shop to house our sign school was on.
More prayer followed by action as I discovered the Marijuana Industry has put a premium on shop space. What used to be .33 a sq ft is now close to $3, if there is anything available. Gulp. And then I found The Space. The landlord built it as a construction design office complete with built in drafting areas, and desk space designed for the kind of equipment we have. Windows on three sides and fresh, clean walls means no mold is going to send me back to bed for a few weeks.
The landlord has been turning down growers waiting for the right tenant. He instantly loved our Vision. It is a perfect fit. He brought the price down to below market to meet us, but the overhead is still an impediment for a new business.
Victory Signs will be an annex space working in conjunction with Blue Ox who has been serving our community for over 30 years helping Veterans and at risk youth find a place and skill set.
THE BIG VISION
PJ Stabb, the man behind the Lincoln Hearse project, has a vision. He loves what he discovered at Blue Ox and the collaboration between skilled tradesmen and military veterans who have fallen through the cracks. His dream, once we get up and running, is to create a template that can be shared with other cities. PJ wants to have a Blue Ox/Veterans Transition Alliance in every State capital in the nation.
Part of your donation goes in to laying the ground work to bring this model to Veterans all over the country.