Female-run nonprofit trains other women in construction and trades

CARRBORO, N.C. (WTVD) -- Martrisha Bradshaw spent a long time working in marketing and public relations.

But after 20 years, she realized she wanted to do something else.

"Part of it is DNA," Bradshaw said. "My dad was in the trades, so I think that always stuck with me but I was never trained. I was a girl, so I was never trained."

Hope Renovations is trying to change that stereotype.

Nora Spencer is the founder and CEO. She had planned to launch back in March but the pandemic delayed the start.

The 10-week program teaches women in and around Orange County the basics of carpentry, electrical, plumbing in addition to job safety.

"The hope is that women will be able to have the skills to be able to go into a job or do continuing education at a community college or even an apprenticeship," Spencer said.

She spent 15 years in corporate human resources and describes herself as a "self-taught tradeswoman."

"I kind of put it together and I decided there's a gap in training right now for women," she said. "There's not enough women going into the construction industry. Maybe this is an opportunity to fill that gap and help women making living wages in an industry that offers that."

They use a space donated to them by Fitch Lumber in Carrboro for their classes. Part of the non-profit also sends the women into the community to get on-the-job training with women in the fields of construction.

They help fix up the homes of seniors in Orange County -- those seniors at the low end of the scale pay next to nothing for repairs.

The program is free to participants and they're now accepting applications for their next cohort of women. You can apply at Hoperenovations.org.

It's a full Monday-Friday program so there's also a small stipend since it's a nearly full-time job.

The first round of women graduate Saturday.

"It's incredibly valuable," said Emily Bronson, who went to nursing school, then moved to serving and worked in animal care prior to applying for this program. "We've been learning with COVID that money isn't the root of everything. Having something to trade is going to serve us better than paying for something."
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