Posted: November 14, 2023
Makeovers are nothing new at the Holly Creek Life Plan Community in Centennial. The community of more than 300 active seniors is regularly updating apartment and cottage home interiors. However, a recent upgrade to the community’s woodshop is benefitting folks both inside and outside the community.
Holly Creek’s woodshop renovation was initiated and carried out by community members under the leadership of resident Jim Ryan, who has called Holly Creek home since August 2022. A civil engineer by trade and woodworking hobbyist, the woodshop is one of several things that attracted Jim to Holly Creek.
“I’m just one of many at Holly Creek who love to work wood,” said Ryan. “It’s a great creative outlet, and some of the things we make are donated to help others. But after taking stock of the woodshop, I realized it was in need of some TLC, including new tools and an upgraded ventilation system, so I got to work.”
Ryan teamed up with neighbor Dave Vitale to put out a call for man and womanpower to clean and inventory the shop’s equipment. Several residents responded, including Bill and Sally Pratt, who spent hours cleaning and organizing the room. Meanwhile, Ryan and Bill Pratt identified tools to remove and new ones to acquire.
They soon realized the woodshop needed a new bandsaw, table saw, miter saw, disc and belt sander. The pair also developed a plan to upgrade the sawdust extraction and dust control system. They designed and installed a new ventilation system with the help of Jim’s son Kevin Ryan and connected every shop machine into the venting system.
“I thought if I built it—or in this case, renovated it—they would come,” Jim said. And come they did. Fellow woodworkers Russ Bond and Hale Moore, who also assisted with putting the shop together were back on the machines doing what they love.
Today, the woodshop is buzzing with the sounds of wood transforming into new furniture, picture frames, wood cutting boards and even handmade toy cars, which are distributed to underprivileged children across the globe through the Denver-based nonprofit Toys for God’s Kids.
Holly Creek has been a partner with Toys for God’s Kids for more that 15 years. Founded by Marlin Dorhout in 2001, the charity works with woodworkers across the country to build handmade toy cars. The Holly Creek woodworkers make car toys that are distributed both to Colorado children through churches and to kids around the world, often by missionaries or members of the military.
“In 22 years, we’ve given more than 2 million cars to children in over 150 countries. Often, these are some of the first toys these children have ever received, and each one is stamped with ‘U.S.A.’ on the back bumper,” said Marlin.
Bill Pratt, who coordinates Holly Creek’s efforts in making these handmade cars added, “We’re not producing as many cars as GM, Ford or Tesla, but our quality is guaranteed, and our cars run on the joy of the child who is pushing it.”
Other folks who benefit from the woodshop are Holly Creek’s own Art Group, a collection of 12 artists who have assembled their talents to create original paintings in a variety of mediums including watercolors, oils/acrylics, pencil/charcoal and chalk. Many of the group’s smaller paintings are framed in small 4×6, 5×7 or 8×10 frames and sold to raise money for Holly Creek’s community volunteer fund. Volunteers help with various community events, including intergenerational programs, happy hours, pet visits and gardening.
“Many of the art group’s originals are set in frames made at Holly Creek by woodworker Hale Moore,” Ryan said. “And I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Holly Creek’s parent company Christian Living Communities, which helped provide the funds for our woodshop renovation and new equipment.”
Located in at 5500 E. Peakview Avenue in Centennial, Colorado, Holly Creek is owned and operated by Denver-based not-for-profit Christian Living Communities. CLC has been providing quality senior care in the south Denver metropolitan area since 1972.