It takes a special kind of vision to see potential. But that's what John Menzo sees when he looks at wood.

“My wife Ellen and I lived in Lake Murray, SC on land with a lot of oak trees. Those trees were standing a long time before they were cut, and I wanted to give them a new life.” John planed 25 logs, each about 15 feet long. He dried them in the basement for a few years then started to build.

“My father was a car­penter, but it didn’t come naturally to me. I started in my 30s because I wanted to create something for my kids. At first I used all hand tools, I just looked at the wood and had ideas.”

John was an engineer, and then worked in finance. When he found himself out of work for a time, he began designing and build­ing furniture. Ellen recalls, “Everyone got homemade wine racks for holidays and birthdays!”

John was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2006. “Wood­working was very fulfilling for me. I didn’t notice any real impact at first. I just slowed down, modified a few plans.”

Ellen was more con­cerned. “We had conver­sations about safety and power tools. He took safety courses, and as the disease progressed he’s made chang­es. When we moved to Sun City in 2014, he joined the woodworkers club. He’s left his mark there and many re­member him and his input.”

And that old wood? “We brought some of it with us,” John smiles. “But now I mostly help other people conceptualize and make plans.”

He’s still putting his vision to work. “He’s so innovative,” Ellen beams, “He isn’t building anymore, but woodworking has been a big part of his life. He has a lot to be proud of.”

John agrees and has advice for others living with Parkinson’s: “If you think you can’t help, think again – you’re still capable.”


John and Ellen Menzo with a table John built

A Note from MMC

This story reinforces a major theme in our care. We focus on what is working in the lives of patients, not what is lost. Joy and purpose are possible if we look in the right place.