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Women in Construction Group Tours Goodwill Facility

Pictured from left are LaToya Bentley, Allison Blackwell, Haleigh Robinson, Nikki Provenzano, Karen Roper, Sara Waggoner, Cynthia Stewart and Desiree Johnson.

About 15 members of the Nashville chapter of the National Association of Women in Construction participated in a Magic Behind the Mission tour of Goodwill’s Cockrill Bend facility in West Nashville on May 23.

The NAWIC members, who all work in the construction industry, received a behind-the-scenes glimpse of Goodwill’s donated goods operations, Outlet store and e-commerce department — onlinegoodwill.com. They also learned about Goodwill’s Skilled Trades program — one of numerous free training programs offered by Goodwill. They met instructors and toured a classroom, workshops and a model home used by students in Goodwill’s Construction and Weatherization and Introduction to Welding programs.

The four-week construction course covers safety, construction math, hand and power tools, blueprints, rigging, weatherization, communication, forklift operation, employability skills and more. Graduates earn certifications from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Center for Construction, Education and Research. Interested construction graduates can then take the two-week welding course.

Enrollment in Goodwill’s Skilled Trades program is increasing — especially among women. Last year, 30% of the 151 students were women. So far this year, women account for 42% of students.

In addition to Goodwill leaders, NAWIC members also heard from Victoria Ricci, reentry director for the Tennessee Department of Correction, and Karen Roper with the DREAM Initiative. They encouraged NAWIC members to talk to their employers about participating in a new work release program, in which women preparing to leave prison receive Goodwill’s construction training and then work on Nashville construction job sites. These opportunities increase the women’s chances of successfully transitioning back into the workforce and society.

At the conclusion of the tour, NAWIC member Heidi Anderson expressed enthusiasm for all she had seen.

I am fascinated and impressed by the level of service that is being provided by Goodwill,” she said. “I have donated and shopped with Goodwill, and I knew they had training programs. But I didn’t realize they were teaching trades like these that can lead to a high-paying job and a career.

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