Pocahontas Woods

Mike Hefner, a 34-year-old former construction worker learns wood-craftsmanship after a life changing injury.

By Summer Ko, Mary Power and Cody Wiegand | 03/09/2012

When it comes to the art of wood crafting, Mike Hefner is both talented and passionate. Five years ago, he began volunteering at Pocahontas Woods in Marlinton, W.Va. Now, Hefner is at the technical college five days a week, teaching apprentices and crafting fine furniture for the people of the community.

Ten years ago, Hefner was working construction when he was involved in an accident that would change his life forever. While operating a Bobcat he moved too close to the edge of a hill and fell 200 feet. The fall broke a bone in his back and left him paralyzed from the waist down.

For the first few years after his accident, Heffner stayed at home with his daughter Elizabeth, who was six-months-old at the time. When she began attending school his role as ‘Mr. Mom’ during the day lessened and he needed something to occupy his time.

Former instructor at Pocahontas Woods, John Freil, invited Hefner out to work and started teaching him from the first moment he arrived. Pocahontas Woods creates valuable pieces such as hutches made of Sassafras and Wormy Chestnut as well as cabinets and cupboards for kitchens. Specially commissioned pieces and pieces for nearby galleries are just some of the creations by apprentices and volunteers like Hefner.

Heffner said, “At the end of the day being able to look back and see you’ve accomplished something, it makes you feel good whether you’re getting paid for it or not.”

Pocahontas Woods is a non- profit organization and is funded mainly by grant money. The school is run by a board of directors including, Executive Director Richard Horton, and Chief Instructor John Wesley Williams. Work is showcased and sold at multiple galleries in Lewisburg, Thomas, Beckley, and Snowshoe W.Va. as well as online at pocahontaswoods.com.

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