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Formerly Incarcerated Woodworkers Make New WTC Benches

Eight individuals joined a Brooklyn-based re-entry program to craft the benches.
Participants of Brooklyn Woods.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, in partnership with the non-profit Brooklyn Workforce Innovations (BWI), unveiled 12 new benches outside the Oculus at the World Trade Center. 

The benches were crafted by eight formerly incarcerated individuals participating in BWI’s Brooklyn Woods program, according to a news release. The re-entry program provides unemployed, low-income New Yorkers with skills training and career development in the woodworking and fabrication profession.

One participant, Eric Pagan, said he found the program life-changing. A military veteran and longtime carpenter, Eric spent more than eight years away from tools due to his incarceration. He felt paralyzed once released but Brooklyn Woods offered much needed support and optimism.

Now, Pagan is considering launching his own carpentry business.

Thousands of people will be able to enjoy the benches and the entire cohort is thrilled to see their hard work on display at the World Trade Center, one of New York’s premier tourist destinations, the news release said.