The Roanoker - July/August 2019 - 12

Making a Difference
Woodworking studio uses tools to teach skills - and a sense of self-worth.

A

ARON RAY-DYKSTRA first made his
mark in the making world by crafting
high-end, custom bicycle frames.
His Six-Eleven Bicycle Co. won accolades from
industry insiders and orders from riders across the
globe.
But after eight years of welding and filing and
sanding solo, Ray-Dykstra was ready to shift gears.
He'd heard the worry from manufacturing
leaders about where the next generation of skilled
workers would come from. He'd seen kids hanging
out near his bicycle shop, transfixed by his tools.
What Ray-Dykstra wanted to make now, he
decided, was more makers.
So in 2016, he set up a nonprofit, The Making
Foundation. He bought a broken-down building in
Roanoke's West End. And he began transforming
the abandoned grocery store into an airy, sunlit
woodworking shop.

12

JULY/AUGUST 2019

Then he reached out to area school officials
with his newly honed mission: to empower kids
by teaching them to work with their hands.
He began with a group of at-risk students in
an after-school program and later added a class
from Noel C. Taylor Academy at Oakland, an
alternative learning program of middle and high
school students in the Roanoke City public school
system.
Today, The Making Foundation teaches students
from three elementary schools, three middle
schools and three high schools. It also offers home
school programs, adult classes and community
events. It has scheduled special events for veterans
and for teens struggling with mental illness. This
summer it's signing up kids for weeklong camps
for the first time.
But it's the class of eight Taylor kids who make
Ray-Dykstra, 35, feel like he's changing the world.
TheRoanoker.com

CHRISTINA NIFONG

ABOVE:
Aaron RayDykstra stands
in The Making
Foundation.


http://www.TheRoanoker.com

The Roanoker - July/August 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Roanoker - July/August 2019

The Roanoker - July/August 2019 - Intro
The Roanoker - July/August 2019 - Cover1
The Roanoker - July/August 2019 - Cover2
The Roanoker - July/August 2019 - 3
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The Roanoker - July/August 2019 - V1
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The Roanoker - July/August 2019 - Cover3
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