Tuesday, 6 November 2007

A Reflection: Inspiration - Using the Building Trades for a New Start in Life

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I was invited to write an article for the Wo-Built website. At first I didn’t know what to write about but after some thought I figured I should write about what I have recently been inspired to do.

I met with someone with whom I got into a conversation about women in construction. This conversation went on for a while so I won’t bore you with the details but towards the end of it, my friend came up with an excellent idea. His mother has donated food to a local women’s shelter for every holiday of the year and last Christmas he went to help her carry some of the trays of food in. He was stopped at the door & not allowed to enter, instead only his little daughter, who could barely hold the tray was allowed in. Why? Well, because he is a man. They did not allow a strange man into their shelter because there are battered women living there who are being protected against their male abusers and would feel intimidated by a man’s presence that was un-announced. Although my friend did not get to go inside he did see in through the entrance & said it could use a lot of work; so why not get together an all women’s crew to go in & fix it up for them? If they didn’t want men in their shelter then it would make perfectly logical sense to do this with other women.

I thought more about this after immediately accepting the challenge. Why not even show these women by example what we do everyday for a living? Have a meeting with the residents and see if they would be willing to shadow the professionals for that time? This is what Oprah calls the A-ha moment. If a battered woman has enough strength left to leave her situation behind & start all over again, why not empower her even further by educating her to learn a trade which would support not only her but her children too! Most women in these situations have very little left when they enter the shelter. Some of them may take on a "regular" job but often it’s hard to make ends meet and live a quality life at the same time. Regardless of pay, it may not be fulfilling and they could feel frustrated by where they have ended up.

I would like to open up the field of expectations and let them see by example how their professional lives could be so much more. Women have innate skills that are important to the construction field; such as, colour co-ordination, eye for detail and dedication to do a thorough job (not that men don’t care but you know what I mean). There is a real need for skilled and properly trained labour in our various fields and this is the time make a new opportunity for other women to feel they can freely enter into this work environment.

I will cap off this page of inspiration by asking for your input. How can you help inspire or help one other woman’s life? It may not be with a job but with listening ear to a friend or colleague, or talking to your local school or donating your time to a charity like Habitat for Humanity. Whatever you do, it will make you feel great and trust me it will definitely brighten someone else’s day too!

For more information about helping renovate this woman’s shelter, please contact me at I am currently looking to pull together a group of women to help this shelter & its residents. The plans are still in their fledgling stages, so anyone is welcome to share their input or their time.

Sabrina Erneman
S.E. Design
This article was submitted by Sabrina Erneman, Cabinetmaker & Interior Designer and Owner of S.E. Design, a Toronto based High End Outdoor Furniture Company. She also designs and/or fabricates custom furniture & millwork for clientelle in both residential & commercial interiors.
Bus. Telephone # 416-300-3339

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