PEOPLE OF INTEREST
ED DRONDOSKI PHOTOS
Elisabeth Gerard has turned her lifelong love of working with wood into a small business. Son Jeremiah lends a hand with the work and helps her sell the
items at the Fort Pierce Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings.
As her life was progressing, Elisabeth Gerard, who so
enjoyed helping her father in his workshop, had no
inkling her love of working with wood would come
full-circle in sunny South Florida.
From the age of 4, she treasured the hours she spent creating
small wooden items with her father guiding her tiny hands.
Today, some 40 years later, she is using all those skills and recycled
wood to create interesting small items and even pieces
of furniture she sells at the Fort Pierce Farmer’s Market.
As she grew older in The Netherlands, Gerard got the itch
to travel. She backpacked through Europe and then, at age
24, she and a friend traveled to Minneapolis, Minn., which
was the new home of a mutual friend from The Netherlands.
They made some money doing hair wraps, but with winter
approaching, their friend suggested they take their artistic
talents to the Sunshine State, a land of continual opportunity
via the tourist trade.
That plan was a bust; the pair found their hair-wrap talents
could not put a roof over their heads or food on the table.
Friends they met told them to go to Miami to look for work.
“We really owe a lot to the homeless community in Miami,”
she said, “They showed us where to eat and sleep. We
were flat broke.µ
In the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, word on the street
was that construction companies in Homestead were desperate
for workers who could live the rough life during the
rebuilding and were willing to work. The two friends moved
Fate fell into play. Gerard’s husband-to-be was in Homestead
working with his family on the rebuilding eͿort. ´+is
father asked him to give his tent to the ‘little Dutch girls,’ as
they had nowhere to sleep,” she said. Eventually, her friend
moved back to The Netherlands, Morgan Gerard moved back
into his tent, and the two have been together ever since.
Married 25 years, the couple joined a Mennonite Church
community in Homestead, but moved to St. Lucie County for
better job opportunities in 1996. Parents of a daughter and
Àve sons, they settled in to smalltown life, Moined a church
and Gerard began home-schooling her children through a
Christian program at her church. “We never wanted to spoil
BY PATTIE DURHAM