The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world, opened my eyes, and adjusted my attitude. As a first-generation female ironworker of 18 years and skilled trades advocate, life as I knew it to a screeching halt on March 13, 2020. My speaking gigs were cancelled, the construction job I had lined up was put on hold, and I had to self-isolate for 14 days.
Once complete, I couldn’t sit still so I began seeking out opportunities to help with essential services in my community, landing a part-time job as a support worker at a women’s shelter.
Although I wasn’t an expert on homelessness, addiction, or mental health, I had the opportunity to develop a special rapport with many women accessing the program. I was very curious to learn women’s stories, and to my surprise it didn’t take long before I found a connection between homelessness and women in trades. Over the summer I met a number of women who had successful careers as skilled trade professionals, but unfortunate circumstances drastically changed their lives.
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