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Check out this great article in the APWA Reporter by NH NAWIC member, Catherine Schoenenberger. Catherine is the chair of the National Diversity Committee for American Public Works Association (APWA). In this article she talks about how "A key component to future success, is not just attracting the new, fresh and younger faces, it also involves retaining and including the seasoned individuals as well." Catherine who knows first hand what is means to be a mentor, is constantly encouraging younger members to join the local APWA and NAWIC Chapters. She has taken many of us under her wing, including myself, to share her knowledge and passion for the construction industry.
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Congratulations to Elaine Hamel of Girls at Work, Inc. for being recognized as one of New Hampshire's 2014 Remarkable Women by NH Magazine!!! Please CLICK HERE to read the full article on how Elaine empowers young girls at-risk to gain more confidence through the use of power tools. You can also read about the other 19 remarkable women as well! Way to go Elaine we love what you do and agree that you are "REMARKABLE"!!!
Our chapter held a Block Kids Lego Competition at the Christa Mccullough School in Concord NH on January 31st. We talked to all the students about construction related careers and the different construction equipment that is used on job sites.
All students who participated received a bag full of goodies and a hardhat. We gave out prizes to the top three lego designs and submitted the top design into the Regional Block Kids Competition.
Our winner was a fourth grade student, Connor, that built a bridge. He was enthusiastic about bridge building and considers it a potential career choice (along with professional football playing)! The string represents handrails, and there are stairs at each end for access. Significant attention was put into keeping a symmetrical and balanced design!
Our very own Elaine Hamel (bottom center photo), director/founder of Girls at Work Inc, and NAWIC Granite State Chapter member, was on MSNBC last Friday, November 1st with Thomas Roberts on the Go and Do segment! Please check out the MSNBC video to hear all about her amazing non-profit organization that empowers at-risk girls in New England by teaching them woodworking skills and how to safely use power tools!
Girls at Work also held their annual MusicFest fundraiser on Saturday November 2nd at the Millyard Museum in Manchester! We are looking forward to hearing about the successful night!
By HENRY METZUnion Leader Correspondent GOFFSTOWN - Elaine Hamel is convinced that amazing things happen when troubled young girls get hold of power tools.
That's the notion that underscores her efforts as executive director of Goffstown-based Girls at Work, a nonprofit organization that empowers at-risk girls and teenagers by teaching them woodworking skills and how to safely use power tools in a team setting.
"To be able to turn them around so that they see themselves as capable, as smart, as powerful - that's just worth a million bucks to me," Hamel said. "So many of these kids have had adults in their lives who've failed them, so to get these kids to feel better about themselves is just so important."
Recently, she delivered her message to staff members of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, who spent an afternoon at the Girls at Work barn in Goffstown in a team exercise called Corporate Build that had them constructing a picnic table from scratch using power tools.
"We take the exact same program that we do with the girls and apply that to the professional adults," said Hamel. "We give them these puzzle pieces, and I give them time to feel just how out of their element they are."
And then Hamel lets the adults talk about their feelings - of inadequacy, frustration, even fear.
"Then I tell them that the girls in our program struggle with those feelings all the time," she said. "I think they're starting to understand how important it is to get these kids to feel better about themselves."
Gemma Waite French, vice president of public relations and marketing for the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said she understands where Hamel is coming from.
"We really had to step outside of ourselves and our day-to-day thinking," French said. "We had to figure it out on our own. We walked in there with a pile of wood and we walked away with a beautiful picnic table. It was a very empowering experience."
French said the picnic table currently sits in the Greater Manchester Chamber's lobby on Hanover Street.
Although the staff hasn't decided what to do with it, there's talk of auctioning it off and donating a portion of the proceeds to Girls at Work.
For Hamel, the process of building something is not about getting the girls to enter the construction industry.
"It's about getting them to apply their inner power tools," she said.
And mastering power tools, Hamel explains, is just an outward manifestation of the confidence building that goes on inside a young person's mind.
And while Girls at Work focuses on at-risk females, Hamel also sees the same confidence building going on in the attitudes of men who have no experience or background working to build something with their hands.
"Ironically, people think men just automatically know how to build," said Hamel. "This whole gender issue needs to be moved aside. It's not about being stronger; it's about working harder and working smarter."
Girls at Work is hoping to build relationships with other nonprofits through the Corporate Build program.
"We can go anywhere to set up shop," said Hamel. "We're really hoping the Corporate Build takes off."
Yesterday I went to my son's preschool (Woodside School in Concord, NH) and talked to the kids (all 3 and 4 year olds) about construction and what a Public Works Department does. They were super excited while I started setting up everything. I had laid out a Bob the Builder blanket for all of them to sit on and we started talking about the two posters that I had brought. The first one was all pictures about what a Public Works Department (DPW) does day in and day out. We talked about how DPW fixes roads, bridges, digs ditches, installs drainage and signage, paints crosswalks and more! Then we talked all about the cool construction and maintenance equipment that a DPW uses. The kids were very involved in this discussion as they recognizes many types of equipment. One little GIRL even new which one was a skid steer! I was totally impressed!
They had lots of questions and were very proud of themselves when they new the answers to my questions like; how to spell STOP or what was difference about the two street signs I brought, or why we wear bright colored gear. I showed them all of the huge signs I brought and we talked about what they meant and how they should look out their windows at all the signage along the roadways. The I took out the gear I brought and had many volunteers raise their hands to try on everything - hard hats, boots, gloves, safety vests, DPW jacket. I think the most popular thing the kids likes to try on was the orange hard had with attached face shield and ear protection for cutting trees (my son Caleb has it on in the photo below).
Next we did some art projects. Some kids colored construction related pages that I had printed at home and others cut out construction pictures from magazines that I brought and glued them to poster boards. Meanwhile there were kids playing in their indoor sandbox with the mini construction equipment toys my son was brought to share with all his friends. There were a few kids going in circles around all the rooms with the measuring wheel I brought...it was hilarious!
We ended with a few construction related stories and the kids were all given an AWARD for their awesome participation that morning! I was so proud of all of them for being so engaged in everything that we did and their enthusiasm to
In celebration of National Engineers Week, several high schools are having professionals come and speak about their careers in Engineering. Yesterday I gave a presentation on "Engineering in the 21st Century" at Milford High School and Monday I will be speaking at Presentation of Mary Academy in MA (my alma mada). Two students at Milford said "that was the best presentation all day!" ... which was awesome to hear!
My presentation is all about the different disciplines in engineering, the skills needed, my career as a Civil Engineer and my love of construction. I also talk about tons of super cool engineering innovations to spark some interest in the students (see a few examples below). I discuss the struggles I had in college with academics, give some advice to students who are interested in pursuing an engineering career and encourage them to embrace the unlimited opportunities available to them in the field of engineering. I was also the only woman on a panel of engineers in the afternoon who all discussed our careers. One of the men spoke highly of the need for diversity and different point of view women in engineering can offer. It was a great day and I was proud to be a part of it!
One female student asked me to do a job shadow day with her and I told her anytime and gave her my business card. I love sharing the excitement and passion I have for my career in engineering and construction. Please think about talking about your career at a local school, whatever it may be, as students need to hear from professionals and be encouraged to follow their interests! I usually do these presentations in late Feb or early March right around Engineers Week and WIC Week, but you can get involved any time of year at a local school to talk about your career.
On Monday, January 21st, I had a young 8th grade student come job shadow me for the day due to his interest in Civil Engineering. He had a series of interview questions for me, as part of a school project, so I was able to get into a lot of detail about my job with him and what I love about working as the Town Engineer. I had a tour of the Manchester Wastewater Treatment Plant scheduled and brought both this 8th grade student and one of my college interns. After a quick lunch, I took both of them to a job site where Goffstown DPW just finished two large retaining walls along a brook and then we headed back to the office to talk about design plans and AutoCAD work. It was a fun day!
I am also going to speak to over 150 students at two high schools in the month of February about my career as a Civil Engineer and introduce them to various engineering disciplines to hopefully spark some interest!
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