BPW Foundation's Women Misbehavin' Blog

Well behaved women never make history

From Nail Polish to Residential Weatherization

Posted by gansie on July 21, 2010

Business and Professional Women Foundation’s “Moving from Red to Green: Working Women in the Green Economy” initiative connects women to the emerging green economy by providing green job training. With generous support from the Walmart Foundation, BPW Foundation‘s four pilot programs have been awarded $60,000 grants to expand their capacity to train women for green jobs.

Vermont Works for women is one of the pilot sites.

Here is how BPW Foundation is supporting women’s involvment in sustainability work.

Vermont Works for Women helps women and girls explore and pursue their full potential through education and training programs that lead to financial independence. Here is just one story about a woman who made the change to a non traditional job.

Although HD (her initials) had graduated with high honors from a high school Cosmetology program at the local Technical Education Center in 2005, the jobs she had found since then were in housekeeping, food service and working at the post office processing center during the holiday rush.  Her average rate of pay was under $10/hour.

She had plenty of informal experience doing standard farm and “country” chores – throwing bales, clearing brush, cutting firewood, and the like. When she started to help an acquaintance on a tree project – working with chainsaws – she realized she was skilled, tough and a quick study in the hands-on learning required for new, tough tasks.

A friend of hers applying for Vermont Works for Women’s (VWW) Law Enforcement training program learned about the FRESH Energy crew and suggested HD apply.

FRESH ENERGY is on the job program that seeks to train and employ women in the fields of construction, efficiency and renewable energy.

Since she was currently working at a bagel store, she figured she had nothing to lose and everything to gain.  She called to investigate and soon submitted an application for the crew.

She wrote in her cover letter,

One thing my resume doesn’t show is the work I have done with family and friends – handling hay bales, fire wood, home clean outs, clearing brush, chain saw and tree work.  I think these demonstrate that I am a hard-working woman who is not afraid to try new things and be hands-on in my work.  I am excited at the idea of having the opportunity to get valuable training in a career field that I will enjoy and take pride in doing.”

HD was hired for the crew and started to wear a tool belt to work for the first time in her life.  During her first 2 months on the job, HD has received on-the-job training in residential weatherization in apartment style housing units as well as mobile homes.  She received EPA Lead Renovator Training and Certification, training in dense-pack cellulose installation and a thorough introduction to blower door testing.  In her third month on the job, she will receive introductory building science training, complete national certifications in both construction safety and hand tool use, and continue on-the-job training in residential weatherization.

Recently asked to reflect on her first two months with the FRESH Energy crew, she had this to say…

It’s been great for me.  I love doing the manual work rather than being in an office.  I love the training and the work experience.  We talk about everything, learn as we go, and then do it.  I benefit from this a lot more than if I was just thrown into a job.  I’ve also learned that doing this kind of work is saving more than you might think.  I used to think about energy efficiency as saving money on your bills, but I realize you’re saving a lot more than that now.  It helps to save the environment.  I’m not sure where I’m going with it yet.  But I like what I’m doing and I want to keep doing it.

Working Women in the Green Economy www.bpwfoundation.org/greenforwomen

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One Response to “From Nail Polish to Residential Weatherization”

  1. […] Success Stories From Nail Polish to Residential Weatherization From Jail to Class […]

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