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For Immediate Release

Hard Hat Happy Hour raises nearly $10,000 for Easterseals construction pathway

Easterseals Hard Hat Happy Hour graphic with Molly Wellmann and Andrew Setters

The first-ever Easterseals Hard Hat Happy Hour offered a sneak peek into the future Easterseals Construction Lab, not to mention some tasty recipes from award-winning celebrity mixologist Molly Wellmann.

The virtual event was hosted by WLWT’s Andrew Setters. Andrew’s passion for woodworking and the maker-movement has led to a long relationship with Easterseals’ Building Value retail store in Northside, where he’s even led a few DIY workshops for customers.

Wellmann, owner of Japp’s in Over-the-Rhine, tended the virtual bar during the event. She guided guests through making the perfect New York Sour and Old Fashioned. We’ve got the recipes at the bottom of the page, along with a link to the Hard Hat Happy Hour recording so you can see the tricks of the trade.

The night of the happy hour would have been the “Hard Hat Bash,” a major fundraising event for Building Value. The coronavirus forced a shift in plans to an online event, but that didn’t discourage a spirited celebration that raised nearly $10,000 for Easterseals construction training programs.

Easterseals provides training through classroom and hands-on instruction for underserved teens and adults through its YouthBuild, FastTrac, and Building Value programs. In 2020, Easterseals YouthBuild has two major projects on the schedule:  a total-home renovation and its first-ever new home construction from the foundation up.

Debbie Smith, Vice President of Education for Employment at Easterseals, gave a preview of major improvements coming to the construction lab at Easterseals main offices on Gilbert Avenue in Walnut Hills. The expansive warehouse space offers a lot of potential to train underserved adults for in-demand careers in the construction industry.


The lab renovations were designed by a team of students in the DAAP program at the University of Cincinnati. The students conducted in-depth interviews with trainees and staff to maximize the use of space and create custom pieces to enhance the learning environment. They include mobile work stations, modular tool storage, and even accessories to help trainees stay sharp on proper measurements.

Fred Heis, a member of the Easterseals Construction Advisory Council, shared the impact he’s seen Easterseals have changing lives for the better through construction training. He shared a thank you note written by Floyd Williams, a recent graduate of the Easterseals FastTrac program who received an employment offer because of his construction training.

Floyd wrote:

“I really, really want to thank you with every living tissue in my body. I was about to give up on taking my test to earn my high school diploma. Because of you, that idea or thought is out of here. I love you guys, and appreciate everything you all have done for me.”

Stanley Warrenhuffman from Building Value later shared the transformative change he sees in the trainees as he supports them throughout training, on the job-site, and beyond.

“Most of the candidates we get into our program have exhausted their career options. They don’t come to us with a whole lot at all,” Stanley said. “They come to us without money, very little experience, without certifications, transportation, or child care. But they do come to us with hope and faith.”



Stanley shared the story of Maurice and Russell. Both are fathers with clearly identified career goals. Maurice is currently interning with Messer Construction on the Critical Care Building project at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

Russell is also working with Messer, and overcame serious challenges to reach where he is today. He was told 15 years ago that an injury would prevent him from ever walking again. He didn’t accept the news and set a challenge for himself that he would one day have a job in construction to provide for his family.

“Being able to watch these young men’s dreams materialize has been a true honor and a true pleasure for me,” Stanley said.

Debbie thanked the many supporters who have been the driving force behind the evolution of Easterseals’ construction pathway, including the U.S. Department of Labor, the Port Authority, Messer Construction, Citibank, Hamilton County Job & Family Services, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, the Spirit of Construction Foundation, Allied Construction Industries, and many others.

The Hard Hat Happy Hour concluded with the raffle drawing for a priceless bottle of Buffalo Trace Bourbon from its Sixth Millionth Barrel. It was a lucky evening for David Giles, who received the bottle, filled back in 2008 and aged more than a decade, along with a commemorative display case.

You can become a support of Easterseals construction training programs. CLICK HERE to make your gift and create #breakthroughmoments for those looking for a hand up to a brighter future and a better career.

Molly’s featured recipes from the Hard Hat Happy Hour:

New York Sour

1 ½ ounces whiskey
½ ounce fresh lemon juice (half a lemon, not from concentrate)
½ ounce simple syrup or triple sec
1 egg white (optional)
Red wine (choose a wine that is jammy, not too sweet, not too dry)

Old Fashioned

2 ounces whiskey or bourbon
Angostura bitters (several dashes)
Orange peel
Sugar cube

Click here to watch the Hard Hat Happy Hour and see Molly mix the recipes!

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