Henry Sowells wanted to help hungry and homeless people when Covid-19 hit. Henry, 17, of Bethesda, Maryland, was learning woodworking, so he decided to put his new skills to use. He began building and selling items such as benches, chopping boards, and coffee tables, donating the profits to a local charity. So far, he’s made about 170 products and raised more than $7,000.
Q: What made you want to help hungry people?
A: If you’re a kid on a meal program, you get your food at school—but during the pandemic, we had no school. So I decided to help Bethesda Cares, our local shelter.
Q: Was the community supportive of your efforts?
A: Definitely. My neighbors were my first orders, and they put it out on Facebook. That’s where I really started to get a lot of orders. And I got wood and supply donations from local companies.
Q: What’s been the most rewarding part of the experience?
A: I met with the leader of Bethesda Cares and some of its clients. It was amazing to talk to them and hear directly from the staff how the money helped them support such a vulnerable group.
Q: What advice would you give to other teens?
A: Try something new. I had never done anything like woodworking ever in my life. By trying a lot of different things, you might find something you really like.
(This interview was edited and condensed for length and clarity.)