Saturday, June 22nd, 2024 Church Directory
Tim Koivisto and Andy Voge have turned their passion for mentoring youth into an amazing non-profit venture. (Submitted Photo).
These two future carpenters took their job seriously as they participated in the Legacy 2 Inspire program. (Submitted Photo).
With a fully deck-out workshop trailer, the Legacy 2 Inspire team goes mobile to bring their craftsmanship and mentorship on-site. (Submitted Photo).

Trust and tools fuel Legacy 2 Inspire

Anyone who has been involved in mentorship, either on the giving or receiving end, knows that the success of the relationship depends on building trust.  For local non-profit Legacy 2 Inspire, the definition of building has both metaphorical and literal meanings when it comes to cultivating relationships with area youth.

Utilizing a mobile workshop trailer, the group spends time visiting area schools and community centers connecting with and empowering youth by creating projects.  The process not only results in the youth learning valuable trades-based skills, but the human connections that are built are meaningful in creating shared mentorship experiences.

The concept of providing youth mentorship while teaching carpentry skills came to Andy Voge in February 2021, when the Founder and President of Legacy 2 Inspire was two years into his battle with stage 4 appendix cancer.  Given six months to live at that time, Andy reflected on his life and wanted to give back to others with the time he had left.  Since that time, due to what he describes as some “miraculous medical procedures,” Andy has been blessed with the time to continue to build on his legacy of helping others.

He started hosting workshops where youth were able to create small projects and then last year, the concept grew into developing a mobile workshop trailer that is taken into communities and used to guide projects that also inspire trusted relationships.

“By building relationships and building trust, we are also able to focus on helping the youth with the stuff that is going on in their world,” Voge says.   “In many cases, we are able to supplement their classroom experiences and give them additional skills that they can take with them.”

Tim Koivisto joined the endeavor one year ago as Executive Director, as he was looking for something more meaningful to do with his career.  His experience has been extremely fulfilling, as he and Voge continue to grow their reach.

“We partner with organizations to see the same youth week after week, since the whole point is to build relationships” Koivisto says.  “We can give students an opportunity to work with tools when in school they may have never chosen a shop class.”

In addition to Voge and Koivisto, there is a dedicated team of volunteers who help the youth in creating their projects.  Every program has a lead who owns a broader experience and can provide the leadership to ensure the project and the mentorship is successful.  Voge’s wife, Rachel, is the Creative Director of the organization and helps with getting the word out about the incredible opportunities afforded through these partnerships.

“We have a great mix of helpers, from retired shop teachers to other volunteers who have no experience with tools,” Voge says.  “They just need to be able to connect with kids . . . it’s much easier to teach someone how to work with tools than it is to tell them how to interact with 14 to 22 year olds.”

In addition to carpentry skills, the group has also incorporated metal working skills into their workshops.  Whether working with wood or metal, the project based experiences are leading to some excellent returns for the youth who participate in the programs.

“We want to be a positive presence in their lives and creating a series of experiences for the youth allows us to do that,” Koivisto adds.  

Legacy currently works in Big Lake with both the Transitions program and the Wave Youth Center, as well as in Alternative Learning Programs in Buffalo, Monticello, Elk River and STMA.

In total, over 100 youth participate in the programs each week and there are plans for further expansion in the fall of 2024.

The program’s core values include: safety, empathy, empowerment, reliability and fun.  Based on the results of the past year, Voge and Koivisto are fulfilling their promise to make a difference in the lives of others.

For more information about the program, please visit legacy2inspire.com.  There, you can learn about the youth mentorship opportunities, as well as how to donate to the program or the process to become a partner.  

It’s an incredible organization with a founder who is using his time on Earth to build a legacy that will not soon be forgotten by the hundreds of youth whose lives are made a little bit better each week.