Local musicians chip in to help Wounded Warrior Project

Contributed Ed Spencer, Pam Stewart, Brian Prescott and Dennis Schultz of the Woodshop Project are seen in Prescott's shop, where they practice music

Four Oneontans have turned one of their hobbies into a way to raise money for a national charity. 

Pam Stewart, Brian Prescott, Dennis Schultz and Ed Spencer simply call themselves the Woodshop Project because they practice music in Prescott's wood shop. The band formed about five years ago and back then, it was a way for longtime friends to get together and play music, Spencer said.

But about two years ago, the friends decided they wanted to play on Main Street in Oneonta. They set out a guitar case, and Spencer proposed sending any donations they received to Wounded Warrior Project. The rest of the group was all in, said Stewart, who mostly sings in the band.  

The mission of Wounded Warrior Project is to provide services, programs and events for veterans who incurred a physical or mental injury, illnesses, or wound, co-incident to their military service on or after September 11, 2001, according to its website. People may also be eligible for the program if they are the family member or caregiver of an eligible veteran.

There are more than 52,000 servicemen and women physically injured in recent military conflicts, according to the website, which said 500,000 are affected with complications such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, and 320,000 experience debilitating brain trauma. 

"Whether you agree with the politics of war or not, these women and men are doing their jobs for us and paying a huge price with their bodies and their minds," said Stewart. "Helping, even in a small way, is good for the soul."

Spencer, who plays guitar, mandolin, harmonica and sings, said sometimes they get $60-$80 while performing on Main Street, and sometimes they'll get a dollar. People listen to the music and sometimes thank them when they find out where the money is going. 

"If we can donate our time to do something we love to do and help somebody else out, that’s a great thing," Spencer said. "It just breaks my heart that these people come back with these horrific injuries."

The Woodshop Project plays an eclectic blend of music, including Bob Dylan, John Prine, the Beatles and the Eagles, among others, said Spencer. They will perform in front of Roots Brewing Company on Saturday, July 6, at noon. 

"We love getting together to make music," said Stewart. "We are all friends and it is one of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon." 

Shweta Karikehalli, staff writer, can be reached at skarikehalli@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7221. Follow her @DS_ShwetaK on Twitter.

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