In the Making: Healing & Hand Tools with Jonathan Ota

March 25, 2022

“If I didn’t take the steps that I took to get to this point, I probably wouldn’t be here. I would be miserable with my life.”

On Thursday, March 24, 2022 we were joined by Marine veteran and Cabinet & Furniture Making graduate Jonathan Ota CF’ 19, live from his shared shop in Leominster, MA. This inspirational conversation explored the difficult transition from active duty into civilian life, Jon’s journey in overcoming this transition and finding a fulfilling career in woodworking, and advice from Jon to other veterans.

In 2001, right after graduating high school, Jon joined the Marines and served three tours in Iraq. After retiring, he returned home with severe PTSD. Struggling with anxiety, depression, anger, and flashbacks, Jon eventually turned to his local Vet Center where he started therapy, and was introduced to creativity and hand skills as a way of healing. Jon’s therapist at the time suggested attending North Bennet Street School, and before he knew it, he was enrolled in the Cabinet & Furniture Making program.

Coming to NBSS, at first Jon was uncomfortable in our community; he could not understand why everyone was so happy. He soon realized he had joined a community of people who were passionate about what they were doing, and how good it felt to be around people who really care about you and your success. From milling the wood to seeing the finished product, Jon feels rewarded in his work. Through creating with his hands, Jon has continued to heal.

At the end of the event, we were joined by Jon’s shopmates, who are all NBSS grads.

“In the Making” is a public programs series where we connect with a range of new voices, fields, and perspectives. Learn more and view a full list of events on the series homepage.

With thanks to our underwriters
BOND, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Eaton Vance, Columbia Contracting, Corp., First Republic Bank, F.H. Perry, Builder, Firestone & Parson Inc., Inland Underwriters Insurance Agency, MUECKE, Inc., and Sequoia Custom Builders, Inc.