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Each year, generous supporters donate important items from their family homes or personal collections. The Acton Institute has been blessed with paintings and sculptures, as well as collections of antique books. Recently, Tom Wiarda, a retired commercial realtor and property manager, chose to donate a special work of art that he created: a writing arm Windsor chair. 

“Many years ago, I inherited my grandfather’s tool chest filled with old hand tools. That got me interested in old tools and woodworking. I started collecting old tools, restoring them and using them. I made various pieces of furniture for the house and started concentrating on making chairs about 10 years ago.” 

Although Mr. Wiarda has taken several chair-making classes, he explained that he’s mostly “self-taught.” And while there is no connection between furniture making and his former occupation, he has always enjoyed working with his hands. “Chair making is satisfying because I start with a log (sometimes from my own woods) and split it and shape it mostly by hand and end up with something functional.” Wiarda noted that his chairs have no “square corners or flat surfaces,” which presents challenges, but “the mistakes generally lead to improvements.”

Mr. Wiarda came to know and appreciate Acton’s work by taking a class at his church led by an Acton team member. Later, he began attending the Lunchtime Lecture Series and enjoyed watching Acton-produced documentaries like For the Life of the World. A sincere thank you, Mr. Wiarda!

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Ben Stoner works as a Development Associate for Acton Institute.  Ben was raised in Grand Rapids, MI alongside three amazing brothers and one wonderful sister.  He attended Aquinas College where he received his B.A. in Art and Writing.  After graduating from Aquinas, Ben pursued a Master’s degree at Grand Valley State University in Higher Education and College Leadership. In addition to his work at Acton, Ben enjoys studying Modern Art, creative writing, playing guitar, and traveling to new and exciting locations across the globe.