Final Thought: Empowering

Surprise! Power tools are not just men’s toys.

An open invitation recently caught my eye. Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter and Lowe’s were seeking female community volunteers to take part in the 2020 International Women Build Week. The journalist in me knew it would make a great story about women working with power tools for the first time.

I became that woman.

Donning a blue hard hat and safety glasses and working under the patient tutelage of site supervisor Ernie Burley, I learned how to operate a power drill, table saw and circular saw—all for the first time. I also got an upper-arm workout swinging a hammer while installing exterior wood siding on a Eustis house under construction on West St. Louis Avenue, the future home for a single mom and her young son.

Working on the build was a spontaneous decision. Habitat was short of volunteers when an expected group was a no-show because of a scheduling conflict, so Habitat recruited some of its female office employees, two next-door homeowners and me.

I loved every minute of the build, learning safety tips while working with those intimidating power tools yet marveling at what they can do. It was empowering and exhilarating to do something new and support Habitat for Humanity. 

The local project was part of a global effort, with thousands of women in more than 235 U.S. communities, India and Canada working to highlight the worldwide need for safe and affordable housing. 

A bigger Women Build event will be hosted at a later date in Leesburg, and women can learn more by visiting habitatls.org or calling Lacie Himes at 352.483.0434, ext. 146. She also can be reached at lacie@habitatls.org. 

I’m ready to put the hard hat back on and participate in the build. Come join me! 

About the Author

Originally from Anderson, Ind., Theresa worked for The Herald-Bulletin for many years. After experiencing a winter with 53 inches of snow, her late husband asked her to get a job in Florida, and they headed south. Well known in the area, Theresa worked with The Daily Sun and The Daily Commercial prior to joining Akers. “I finally have my dream job. I’ve wanted to work for a magazine since I was a teenager, and I’m very excited to be here,” Theresa says. “There is such positive energy at Akers that it’s infectious.” Theresa has three grown daughters—Julia lives in San Francisco, Emily is in Seattle, and Maria in Orlando.
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