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.
Mike Smith takes full advantage of the wildlife surrounding him. As park superintendent at Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park, Smith has acres of land to forage for food and hunt for animals. According to Smith, foraging provides a healthier way of living, but more importantly, a chance to get outside and connect with nature.
Michael Buttrill manages a 15-acre organic farm in Renick, W.Va., where he produces his own biodiesel fuel to power his vehicles and tractor. Michael has been perfecting his fuel for seven years with a goal to live more sustainably and rely less on non-renewable resources.
Innovation Zone has brought an entirely new learning style to Doddridge County High School. Every other Friday the school runs on a two hour early dismissal schedule when students separate into different groups to learn new skills from teachers and community volunteers.
Dr. Mark Cucuzzella has been a runner his entire life, but when injuries plagued him throughout high school and college, he searched for a remedy other than his doctor’s advice of “don’t run.” He began to shave the heels off of his own running sneakers, becoming a true pioneer in the minimalist running movement. After opening Two River Treads in Shepherdstown, W.Va., one of the first minimalist running stores in the United States, Dr. Cucuzzella solidified himself in the running community.
Shepherdstown, W.Va., native Carlos Niederhauser can look back on a life that had him participating in the world’s longest car rally, traveling the globe, fixing foreign race cars, developing real estate and becoming a landlord for over 100 Jefferson County properties.
After the death of her father Dr. John Moossy, Joan Moossy honors his memory by publishing his autobiography and working to preserve his art and home in Shepherdstown for aspiring artists. Coming from New York City, she is dealt with the decision on how to continue her father’s legacy within this tight-nit community. Joan looks to open the doors to her father’s house and welcome any artist who is looking to getaway from their everyday surrounding and rekindle their passion for art.
Story Synopsis- Sheila Brannan lived her life in a constant creative roll until a brain aneurysm in 2007 threatened her stained glass career. Since recovering from that, she is back in her home studio and has gotten to a place she considers to be the “new normal.”
Lars Prillman is a 28 year old organic farmer in Shepherdstown, W.Va. He spent his early 20s as a traveling musician in Knoxville, Tenn. He found his “calling” while doing an apprenticeship on the farm of one of his former 4-H counselors. He now runs his own farm with the help of his family.
Phil and Shanna Mastrangelo own Mellow Moods Café & Juice bar, an organic restaurant in Shepherdstown, W.Va. Their hope is to give people a vacation-like atmosphere in their everyday lives while serving locally-grown, healthy foods.