This is James. James is a fun loving, energetic, warm, creative and passionate young man who loves being around people, puzzles and his Fremantle Dockers and showcasing his creativity through woodwork.

For the last six months I’ve had the absolute pleasure of working alongside James as he’s looked to achieve his goals of increased opportunity for employment and developing his woodwork skills. With these aims in mind James got connected with his local Men’s Shed to aid in increasing the skills he had already acquired while mucking around at home with his Dad in the shed. Initially when joining the Men's Shed James had to overcome a small amount of stigma due to his age, but his appetite for woodwork has seen him overcome all obstacles and he’s moved from just painting at the shed to using the drill press (James’ favourite tool), electric saw and other mechanical tools throughout the shed.

James has thrived so much since joining the Joondalup Men’s Shed. Combining his love for puzzles and woodwork, he’s created several framed puzzles which he is now selling to local businesses through his company ‘Jimmy the Puzzle King’ (see his business card in the photo below). At this time he has sold a sandwich puzzle to Subway, a coffee puzzle to the Whitfords Coffee Club and has a backlog of orders for a number of other organisations.

Alongside his puzzle business James has continued to develop his woodworking skills in other areas. James has recently begun working on a bedside table for his newborn cousin and the entire process has seen James mature significantly.

James had previously struggled to deal with physical adversity, attempting a task once before giving up while offering the excuse, “I can’t do it. It’s impossible.” However during the process of creating the table James has learnt to become more confident in attempting and failing at tasks, all the while understanding that failure isn’t the end of the world. As a result, James has almost finished constructing the table and despite the fact that one leg is slightly shorter than the others, James has learnt to appreciate and accept his work.

The massive age difference between James (19) and the rest of the men who participate at the Men’s shed (all over 50) had been an issue for James when first attending. Overcoming this initial barrier through his use of humour and wit, James was able to form many positive relationships within the Men’s Shed. All of the members of the shed have put an arm around James and provided invaluable support and direction. One of the men gave James a 4,000 piece puzzle as a gift, acknowledging his love in the area.

I have no idea what the future holds for James but I do know that his growth in maturity and confidence, as well as his infectiously warm personality will stand him in good stead.

Kelechi Osunwa - Mentor

For more information on the Joondalup Men’s Shed, how you can get involved or to donate, check out their website: http://www.jms.org.au/