On April 4th, Elaine Hamel from Girls at Work, addressed the Rotary Club of Nashua regarding Girls at Work. Elaine Hamel, was introduced by Beth Covino. Beth had met Elaine years ago teaching and empowering girls in the use of power tools at Camp Spaulding.  Girlswork.org is the website for the organization.
Girls at Work has been around for 22 years and is not yet well known in the community.  It was founded in 2000 at summer camps all over New England.  They started in a barn in New Boston and now are in an old school building, they rebuilt on South Elm St. in Manchester. It is the building used by First Robotics.  They occupy about 7000 square feet.  Over 20,000 girls have participated over the years.
 
The concept began with girls building different projects at summer camps.  They soon decided they needed more than just summer camp projects.  They needed space for a continual ability to do projects.  This space was found at the Manchester site.  The restoration of the building in Manchester involved Harvey construction who donated much of their expertise.  The girls assisted in the finishing of the space and gave the Harvey team Adirondack chairs that they had made to thank the Harvey team.
 
The girls who participate have had a variety of life challenges.  During the pandemic, Girls at Work provided them with hundreds of project kits to make a desk/lecturn with a light.  Other types of programs they provide are afterschool sessions, summer camps, leadership classes, team building and other topics.  Elaine described the girls as ‘badass’ in being able to do these projects with minimal adult assistance.  They are 8-9 years old and very self-driven.  The learning goes on via the Socratic method where the questions are asked and the girls find and learn the answers thru their work. 
 
One middle school program built a podium that was used for the graduation ceremony.  The middle school girls make many projects that are used in community auctions.   They even do projects on school vacation.  The projects involve woodworking, circuitry, PVC plumbing and soldering.  High risk procedures/tools are taught one-on-one for safety.   They even get to use transits and learn surveying work.
 
Girls at Work also do interactive partnership workshops with various businesses and community services.  Elaine really tries to awaken the girls on patterns of inequality for women in terms of work, opportunities, pay and thinking smarter not harder.  She finds the girls anxious to build stuff and learn building skills.  She teaches them that showing up and trying is very important. 
 
They do adult construction skill team building projects as well.  The women involved find it very empowering just like the younger girls involved.  Woodworking  is a great medium for teaching these life skills and help provide a new self-confidence.  The girls said woodworking helps them to know how to be safe around tools, how to build with tools, increases their confidence, teaches how to work with others, builds an interest in woodworking and lets them know it’s okay to ask for help.  It helps them believe in themselves!
 
Q & A followed. 
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