residents working in the hobby shop

Reata Glen residents working in the hobby shop. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Nearly every day you can find Chuck Ryerson tinkering around the hobby shop at Reata Glen. As chairman of the group, he has spent nearly a year organizing the more than 100 pieces of donated and purchased equipment that fills a 20’ x 30’ building within walking distance of his apartment. 

The hobby shop is open to all 800 Reata Glen residents who call the San Juan Capistrano community home. Ryerson and his neighbor Dan Thorlakson spent more than a year assembling the power tools, sanders, saws, and other equipment. The two even built the shelving and cabinets that fill the walls.

“They got some really good equipment,” said Ryerson during an interview with The Orange County Register.

Since officially opening in September, dozens of residents have utilized the space safely with Ryerson’s and Thorlakson’s assistance. Creations made in this building range from small projects like picture frames and table legs to larger projects like the rabbit exclusion tent for a veggie garden on the Reata Glen campus. The two even helped create a Reata Glen sled to be used as a photo prop for the holidays – making them the Reata Glen Elves. 

“A lot of people want to modify their homes or build things for their homes, or just want to do something for the fun of it,” said Ryerson. “It gives them a chance to come down here and exercise their mind and their physical skills and build something that might be a little bit challenging,” said Ryerson.

The community says they know the importance of socially engaged residents, especially during the pandemic. Studies show programs like the hobby shop have a wide range of beneficial outcomes, including improved memory and self-esteem. Residents can also experience reduced stress when surrounded by their neighbors.

“I just have an interest in being active all the time and like the idea of the community shop, a place to go and do things,” said Thorlakson. “It’s a good thing for the community. It’s a good thing to help the neighbors. Surprisingly, they are willing to learn.”

The Orange County Register visited the Reata Glen Hobby Shop. Read more about the work being done by Ryerson and the other woodworkers here.