In the WARM workshop, Felix Rosado and his helpers are busy making 100 wooden toys for poor children. The effort has become a holiday tradition for Felix. Each toy, Felix feels, repays a debt.
In prison, Felix wanted to give his own children toys for Christmas, but had no money. He was grateful that community groups made sure that his kids still had gifts under their tree. And so, he put his skills to good use in the prison workshop. In his eight years behind bars, he made 7,000 wooden toys that were given away to needy families.
“As I sat in my cell on Christmas, I knew that somewhere a child was smiling because of the toy,” Felix says. “I could feel each smile.”
Felix makes every toy with great care. Each one is perfectly sanded and finished with non-toxic materials.
“I want to make sure that my toys would never harm anyone,” Felix says.
Before he went to prison, Felix led a life of crime and aggression that he readily acknowledges inflicted harm on the community. He gained a notorious reputation on the streets of southwest Detroit.
Felix was released two years ago for good behavior, though he remains on parole. Felix felt he was a changed man, but needed to find a way to earn an honest living. He worked odd jobs as a handyman, while looking for a better opportunity.
“My father and grandfather were carpenters and I learned from them,” Felix says. “I can build a house from the ground up, but never got a license.”
In June this year, Felix enrolled in the weatherization course of our green jobs training program called Detroit GreenWorks Solutions. The three-month course is a partnership with WARM Training and Henry Ford Community College.
Felix excelled in the program and was hired by WARM after graduating with his certification. He has built professional displays that illustrate weatherization procedures and has proven to be a valuable resource for students going through the program.
“Felix possesses a wide skill set and an enthusiastic attitude,” says Chris Rutherford, who directs the weatherization training program. “He always does a good job on every task he is given and he never feels that a task is beneath him.”
Ten weatherization trainees and six WARM staff persons are helping Felix make the toys, which will be donated to Toys for Tots. The charitable program is run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve and provides toys to children of parents who cannot afford Christmas gifts.
The 100 wooden toys are all made from scrap wood in the workshop, and thus abide by WARM’s philosophy of reuse and conservation.
Felix sees his own children regularly now and has a close relationship with them. Beyond his immediate family is an ever-growing kinship with thousands of kids who enjoy his handiwork.
Holding the toys in their small hands, they are too young to grasp that within the wood is a grain of redemption