Founded in 2015, Southside Woodworks is rooted in the Southside Neighborhood of Asheville, North Carolina. Born out of a need to create meaningful, sustainable employment for low-income residents of Asheville, Southside Woodworks’ mission is to empower those facing barriers to employment in the crafting of beautiful, high quality goods.
Like the Southside Neighborhood, woodworking has a humble, yet profound history, and holds within it a long tradition of excellence, self-determination, and solidity. Woodworking also allows its makers to literally carve their stories into their creations, turning their histories into something beautiful, empowering, and useful.
Southside Woodworks is a social enterprise of Asheville-based non-profit, Green Opportunities. Their flagship training GO Build program provides technical job training, life skills, placement services, and case management to those with barriers to employment. Southside Woodworks empowers students to support themselves while they complete the program and to create career pathways after graduating.
About the Founders
Eric Howell began his path to woodworking as a teen growing up in rural Spartanburg County, SC. His uncle would use carpentry as a way to keep him out of trouble and show him the value of hard work. In 2009, Eric moved to Asheville for a fresh start in a new area. He enrolled in Green Opportunities’ Built Environment training program and graduated in 2014. With a strong work ethic and ability to relate to students’ needs, Eric became the Assistant Built Environment Trainer upon graduating, and now serves as GO Build Instructor. In 2015, Eric and Doug Sharkey created Southside Woodworks, a social enterprise of Green Opportunities, which employs students and graduates in the crafting of handmade, wooden products. Since then, Southside Woodworks has been building wooden crafts as well as strong community relationships.
Doug Sharkey is the former Lead Trainer for the Built Environment program at Green Opportunities. Doug brought to GO and Southside Woodworks over a decade of experience in the carpentry field. He taught carpentry, construction, and building science for five years at GO and helped create the construction lab at the Edington Center that is home to Southside Woodworks.