By SHERI GASSAWAY
With the sound of whirring power tools and the smell of fresh lumber, a group of about 15 women – some with carpentry skills and others without – teamed up to build a new shelving/countertop unit at the Missouri Women in Trades (MoWIT) office in St. Louis.
It was all part of the Feb. 23 MoWIT workday, an opportunity in which women considering careers in the trades and female apprentices interested in learning new skills volunteer their time working alongside skilled tradeswomen on building projects and repairs.
Last year, MoWIT moved into office space in the St. Louis Workers’ Education Society (WES) building at 2929 Jefferson Ave., and as part of the agreement, the tradeswomen organization is assisting WES with some much-needed building repairs. Last month’s event was dedicated to spiffing up the MoWIT office.
The day began with MoWIT President Beth Barton, a Carpenters Local 1596 journeywoman, going over what’s commonly referred to as a Jobsite Safety Analysis (JSA) with the volunteers. As a superintendent with Tarlton Corporation, it’s the way she starts each day on the job.
“Basically, we go over what each tradesperson is working on, review plans and discuss safety issues that may come up during the day,” she said. “For example, it’s raining today, so we need to be thinking about being safe while walking outside.”
After the JSA, Barton and other team leaders checked for necessary supplies for the build and then left to buy materials. Meanwhile, volunteers cleaned out the office so the group would have space to work and rounded up tools for the project.
When the materials arrived, the group got to work. Brittney Wallace, a senior at South Tech High School and Oakville Senior High School, began cutting. It was her third time volunteering at a MoWIT workday.
LEARN SOMETHING NEW
“I’m hoping to start out in carpentry and eventually be in construction management,” Wallace said. “I learn something I didn’t know before every time I volunteer at one of these events.”
Elizabeth Dulle, a Carpenters Local 92 apprentice, volunteered for the first time with the group at the Feb. 23 event.
“It’s great building with other tradeswomen, and it’s an opportunity for me to learn new skills,” Dulle said.
MoWIT was founded in 2006 and became a 501(c)3 non-profit agency in 2008. The organization is dedicated to expanding opportunities for women to enter and succeed in apprenticeship and careers in the construction and building trades in the greater St. Louis area.
MOWIT works with employers, unions, educational organizations and other entities to increase women’s equal employment opportunity and equitable working conditions. It is committed to building a diverse workforce, strong Labor Movement, safe and healthy worksites and women’s empowerment and economic security.
ATTEND A MOWIT WORKDAY
MoWIT workdays are usually held the last Saturday of the month beginning at 8 a.m. at 2929 S. Jefferson Ave. in St. Louis. For more information, visit the group’s Facebook page or call 636-926-6948.