“The change in the girls over time and to hear the stories of girls who have gone through the program is really remarkable to see.”
Maris Wofsy attended a fundraiser for Girls at Work three years ago and thought “when I retire, I am going to get involved with that group.” She really cares about the mission of the organization and made it her first priority to get involved when she eventually did retire. She has been a volunteer instructor for the Women’s Build classes, has helped with the summer camp program and most recently taught a Birthday build for 8-10 year old girls.
Maris has stayed involved with Girls at Work for over a year and a half and explains the impact that these classes have on girls and women. She says that often there are women who come to classes and are skeptical about their abilities to use power tools. One time she had a woman who came to a class and said that she had a basement full of power tools and didn’t have the courage to learn how to use them. After taking the class that Maris taught she said she felt confident and said she would now be able to use her tools at home and was excited to build more. Maris reflects on her experience as an instructor, “Women learn confidence, safety and how to work in a logical progressional…after two hours of building you can see them pumped up [about what they built].”
Maris has gained an awareness of the impact that this program has had on the girls in the Manchester area, “seeing the change in the girls over time is really great and the stories of girls who have gone through the program and where it has taken them is really remarkable.” Volunteering with Girls at Work has been a fulfilling experience for Maris and she has gained confidence as an instructor because so many women are looking to her and believing in her ability as a teacher. “You get so much back…It’s a blast and anybody can get involved.”
“I have gained knowing some great people and being able to do things that I love. I love working in the shop and I could do this everyday”
Mary Crawford has always enjoyed working with power tools and was doing some handy work with a partner for a few years until he was no longer able to work. She was getting bored and was looking for something to do when a friend told her about Girls at Work and said it was right up her alley. She stopped by to meet Elaine and watched her teach a class. Mary ended up staying to help with one of the Women’s Build classes that same day.
Mary is not only a women’s instructor for Girls at Work. She has put in many hours helping to maintain their space by cleaning, organizing, painting, building, etc. as well as participating in events such as DIVA. “I enjoyed working on DIVA night, Mel and I ran one of the rooms and it was really rewarding to see all that we accomplished.” Mary has continued to stay involved because she thinks it is a good cause to support.
Mary encourages people who are interested in getting involved with Girls at Work to go for it. “You will meet really great people and you’ll enjoy working with the girls. I have really enjoyed teaching the Women’s Classes and watching women who have never used power tools finish a project and seeing how proud they are.”
Christine Keenan first heard about Girls at Work when Elaine Hamel (founder and program manager) posted about a women’s build back in November 2014. Christine signed up for the class and learned how to build a garden bench. She took that bench home and danced around it because of how proud she was to have accomplished something she didn’t know she could do. She learned about the mission of Girls at Work and how they support at risk girls and jumped at the idea of getting involved. Over the next couple of years she volunteered helping with classes, building signs, and attended New Hampshire Construction Career days to attract women to the organization.
When prompted about her continued involvement with GAW she said, “How could I possibly say no, when you know it just takes a bit of time to help and have a positive impact on a young girl? I have had similar experiences growing up as some of these girls and I know the importance of how this program helps them.” Christine can see the difference that the organization has on these young girls. She says, “It gives these girls a new way of looking at their world in a positive way because they are put in a position to see positive role models and then they can imagine opportunities for themselves.”
Christine values so many memories and experiences with her time at GAW. She really values the connections that she has made with people from various backgrounds and hearing their stories as well as the mission of the organization. In her time volunteering in the workshop she really enjoys “seeing how it has unfolded and seeing the difference between the first two hours and then watching the girls as they walk out a little bit taller.” Above all Christine loves sharing the moments with girls and women when they accomplish their project because she can see their faces light up with pride.
Christine has personally benefited from the programs values throughout her time at GAW. “I’ve gained confidence to build other things and pursue other personal goals that I put on the back burner, such as doing art. Now I have secured a spot featuring my art at Oglethorpe Fine Arts & Crafts in collaboration with Artisans by the Bay in Meredith starting in May.” She is thankful for all the wonderful people she has met through the organization as well. You might meet this amazing volunteer when you take a Women’s Power Build class coming up this year.
For anyone who is interested in volunteering with GAW Christine offers her advice. “Stop thinking about it and just do it! You have nothing to lose and you will gain much more than you would have ever imagined by being apart of it.”