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Maloof event allows military vets to heal

Five years after his death, the Sam and Alfreda Maloof Foundation for Arts and Crafts continues to honor its namesake’s legacy with programs like its annual Veterans Celebration. Now in its second year, the celebration was held Oct. 10-12 at the Maloof Historic Home in Alta Loma, Calif., and offered an intense workshop program designed to teach woodworking skills to veterans.

Veterans with their completed tables, made of walnut from Maloof's wood barn.

Known throughout the world as an esteemed furniture maker, Sam Maloof died in 2009. But he left behind the foundation, established in 1994, which continues to offer tours and educational programs to the public, as well as philanthropic endeavors such as the Veterans Celebration. Originally created to expand on programs offered by the federal Department of Veterans Affairs, it gives veterans a chance to tap into their creative sides, while being inspired by Maloof, a World War II Army veteran.

Maloof Foundation executive director Jim Rawitsch said this year’s turnout was similar to last year’s with five attendees. The three-day event enabled veterans to work with various woodworking tools to build Maloof-style accent tables. Led by two of the foundation’s instructors, the participants used walnut from Maloof’s wood barn to make the tables.

“Sam and his first wife Alfreda were both veterans of World War II. Both served our country before they got married and were very involved with veteran’s affairs. This celebration is focuses on helping veterans with [post-traumatic stress disorder] heal through artistic means. Woodworking provides veterans with positive activities that open up the right side of the brain and gets them involved with intensely focused tasks,” Rawitsch says.

The Veterans Celebration teaches woodworking skills to veterans.

He explains that the idea of woodworking having healing properties stems from the Civil War era, when it was used to refocus the mind on things other than war. He says that knowing how the arts play a role in rechanneling the brain with PTSD, the foundation’s members wanted to build a pilot program that would give veterans the chance to spend three days woodworking while surrounded by Sam Maloof’s works and be inspired by a man who reinvented a livelihood while adjusting to civilian life himself.

“Veterans are natural constituents for Maloof. Not all veterans can draw and paint, but they can cut wood and build something. This program helps them with their creative spirit and helps them realize that it’s OK to reinvent yourself through woodworking and mastery of craft as Maloof did.”

Contact: Sam and Alfreda Maloof Foundation for Arts and Crafts, 5131 Carnelian St., Alta Loma, CA 91701. Tel: 909-980-0412.

This article originally appeared in the December 2014 issue.

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