Imagine a Better St. Louis: Anew Nature helping ex-felons find a - KMOV.com

Imagine a Better St. Louis: Anew Nature helping ex-felons find a new calling

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Anew Nature is teaching felons wood working and furniture skills. (Credit: KMOV). Anew Nature is teaching felons wood working and furniture skills. (Credit: KMOV).

ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) – Like a log, Travis McClure admits he has some rough edges. He has been in and out of prison since age 18, so finding a job has been a struggle.

“Got out last year in May, when I got out I’ve been a trying to get a job ever since, it’s hard being a felon,” said Travis McClure, 25.

That is where Robert Karlskint and Anew Nature step in. Karlskint teaches job skills to men from the inner city, most with criminal records.

“Most people don't like to go to work and these guys aren't even offered the chance to go to work,” explained Karskint who started the program in 2013.

With the help of the organization Mission: St. Louis, Karlskint hires interns for a 10-week program, teaching them everything from wood-working to tool safety. McClure hopes these skills will help him find a steady job.

“A great job opportunity that's all that I want, to provide for my kids the best way possible, the street life is over with,” said McClure.

According to the Missouri Department of Corrections, more than half of felons in St. Louis wind up back in prison, often because they go back to a life of crime as a way to make ends meet. Karlskint says he is hoping to make a difference by hiring more of the interns to work full time for Anew Nature.

“That was why we started designing furniture so we could have an unbiased employment place for people where I’m like I don't care what you did, I just care what you do now," said Karlskint.

Anew Nature has started a Kickstarter to help make that goal happen sooner. The funds will go towards immediately hiring interns from the program to produce their first full furniture collection.

“Everybody should get a second chance. I understand we all did what we did, but like you shouldn't hold us accountable for the rest of our life, some of us are trying to change,” said McClure. 

McClure is turning a log into a coffee table. He has already made three and said seeing the finished product is what he’s most proud of.

“I’m taking unfinished work and finishing something, making it look so amazing,” said McClure. “It was rough and now its crystal smooth.”

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