Men’s Shed offers social opportunity for all

Gather in the Shed. 

The Ruston Community Men’s Shed, located at 2782 Hwy 33 in Ruston, is gearing up for two events in the next two weeks but also hoping to encourage area residents to visit and get involved with the Shed community. 

The Shed is hosting a Business After Hours from 5-6:30 p.m. Tuesday and then will have its third annual Open House from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 6. 

Tommy Folk, president of the Men’s Shed, said the purpose of the Shed is to help the community and involve the community while preventing social isolation. 

“All our projects are geared around getting people to come,” Folk said. “The point is to get people out and socialize.” 

With as many tools to make any tool retail store envious and a large working environment, the Shed is filled with spray cans and paint for crafts, numerous various saws, multiple workstations, projects in progress, and even puzzles and games. 

“We get these folks who walk in who want to build something,” explained Rhea DeOliviera, shop manager. “They may can only hold the wood, but they want to make something. They don’t know how to do it, so we teach them. And then someone else comes in and sees the project and wants to make it, so the first person teaches the second person, and then a third person comes along, and it continues. It’s fun to watch that process.” 

Folk said the Shed is open to everyone, though anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian, as the power tools need to be used responsibly. Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and families have come to complete projects at the Shed. 

“We are a non-religious, non-political group,” he said. “We’re a place for people to come work on things. Our point is to get people here.” 

Females are welcome and actively participate any time the Shed is open, said member Patti Hendricks. In addition to regular operating hours, female members gather on Monday mornings from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for a time they refer to as “SheShed Mondays.”

The Shed has an amazing wood shop that can only be truly appreciated by working in it,” Hendricks said. “But we are much more than a wood shop. The Shed is a place where members gather to visit, to play games, to work on individual, group and community projects, to learn new crafts and skills. Shedders freely share their knowledge and are encouraging of one another. We visit, we learn, we teach, we share –  and, somewhere in the middle of it all, members connect and friendships grow.”

The group was started by the late Beulah Brown Laster in 2018. At the time, there were three Sheds that were part of the U.S. Men’s Shed Association. Ruston’s Shed was the fourth. Through donations and grants from various individuals and even businesses, such as the Jonseboro State Bank, the Shed has managed to thrive, even during COVID, DeOliviera said. 

“We’re starting to see people come back now,” DeOliviera said. “Now there’s about 20 Sheds (in the US association). It’s growing fairly quickly.” 

The Shed is open Mondays from 6-9 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 6-9 p.m., Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Fridays from 1-4 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Additionally, the She Shed Monday group of women specifically meet Mondays from 9 a.m. to noon. 

Annual membership to the Ruston Community Men’s Shed is $120 a year or $10 for a day rate. Group rates are also available. Events are publicized on the Facebook page. 

The Ruston Community Men’s Shed is a 501(c)(3) organization, and Folk said donations are tax deductible and appreciated to keep the Shed running. 

“We provide for people from all walks of life,” Folk said. “We want to help the community and get people here to help the community.” 


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