Backstory

A vocational school for the decorative arts, The Alpha Workshops helps those in need train for a brighter future as artisans of the highest level.

Kenneth Wampler—actor turned textile designer turned social worker—founded The Alpha Workshops in 1995 in response to the AIDS crisis, as it morphed from immediate death to survival mode when drug cocktails appeared.

Wampler realized that people’s lives had been disrupted as a result of the disease, and the workshop eventually turned into a vocational school training people with long-term disabilities in the decorative arts, allowing them to rejoin the work force. It was important it create a low-stress working environment, and because of the exclusivity on HIV, it allowed people who had been totally stigmatized and traumatized to be in a positive and supportive environment. The Alpha Workshops now trains people with a number of conditions, such as PTSD, mental illness, drug addiction, incarceration, and refugee trauma.

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