PARMA, Ohio — Many people in Northeast Ohio and across the country have lost work due to COVID-19, but for one Parma family, the pandemic gave them a chance to reinvent their working lives and do something different.
These days, you can find Christopher Wells and Danielle Waskowski of Parma at farmers markets. Before the pandemic, Waskowski drove for Uber, while Wells traveled around the country, "delivering motorcycles, antique furniture, high-end furniture, that kind of thing."
Wells, a former mechanic, said he was doing well with that work in the early months of the year until COVID-19 hit suddenly.
When their work dried up, both of them had to make adjustments, and Wells said his own typical fallback of driving for Uber wouldn't cut it financially, nor did he think it was safe.
Now, you'll find Wells spending a lot of time in the workshop in their garage, sanding and cutting wood to make raised bed victory gardens. It all started as a Mother's Day gift.
"We have dogs that would get into our regular garden, so I started looking around and figuring out how could I make a garden," Wells said.
Wells did some research and found plans, then made his own design and built one.
"I put a picture of it on the internet and next thing I know, people are asking me to build them, and it’s kind of gone from there," Wells said. "I’ve always had woodworking in my family. I’m technically a fourth-generation woodworker. So I’ve just never really had too much time into it and now I’m catching back up to it in my early 30s."
And it's something he enjoys.
"I’ve always had joy working with my hands, either being a mechanic or working with wood. I’ve always enjoyed myself," Wells said. "As long as I can sell these and make money to support my family, I’m happy."
He enjoys his normal job, too, but he said being able to be home more often with his family is a plus. He thinks when COVID-19 is over, he'll consider combining his two careers and maybe make more rustic or nontraditional furniture.
Wells said his success in selling the victory gardens at farmers markets has been hit-or-miss, but Waskowski has taken her talents to farmers markets, too, selling handmade soaps, as well as herbs from their garden.
As this family makes the most of a difficult time, Wells encouraged others to do the same.
"Diversify yourself. Learn something," Wells said. "There’s always something on the internet that you can read. There’s a million and a half e-books that you can learn new trades. And they don’t cost you anything, and even if they do, 10, 20 dollars? Learn something new, try something different."
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