“Construction is a beautiful thing,” says Jaquel, carpenter and mother of two. “I’ve seen four buildings built from the ground up and I have pride in my part of that. I did that.”
Jaquel came to Building Skills NY with five years of experience in construction as a laborer and flagger. With the help of Building Skills NY, Jaquel began a role as a carpenter with Ace Industries on site in the Melrose neighborhood of the Bronx. Working in carpentry, Jaquel is expanding her skillset each day; she’s caulking windows, installing insulation, and putting up drywall. Jaquel has become a trusted worker and reliable team member in a short amount of time, thanks to her dedication to learning and unmatched work ethic.
“I can put your window in from scratch. I love what I do now.” Jaquel admits she is usually the only woman on a job site, but it doesn’t bother her. “If my feet and my hands work, I’ll do the work. You have to show you’re willing to do the work. Prove yourself and your ability to do the work. I want everyone to feel comfortable around me because when I’m here, it’s about work.”
Thanks to Jaquel’s passion, construction has become a family affair. Jaquel’s son Deshawn, also a Building Skills NY participant, is working for a plumbing company, and her daughter just completed her OSHA 30-hr and 10-hr SST with plans to become an electrician.
“Go get it- that’s what I would tell anyone who wants to get into construction. Just be willing to learn and grow,” says Jaquel. “I want all women to get involved in construction and help each other. I want them to know that you can’t let other people tell you what you can and can’t do.”
Jaquel is not the only mother Building Skills is celebrating this year, and she’s not the only woman urging other women to build careers in construction.
“I want more women out there; let’s do this together,” says Denise. “When I got my foot in the door in construction, I saw how much things have progressed for women. It’s not a man’s world anymore. When opportunity knocks at your door, how can you not open?”
When Denise connected with Building Skills NY, she had spent years working in healthcare, banking, security, and manufacturing and delivery. While a delivery driver, Denise was drawn to the flaggers she would see on her routes, which piqued her interest in the construction industry. Now, Denise is with a landscaping company in Far Rockaway, Queens. “I love landscaping- I get to build something for myself and my community and be creative in the process,” says Denise. “I get to walk past my work and see what it’s done for my community. I wish more people had this much pride in their work, women especially.”
Denise, whose son passed away several years ago, feels like she has meaning once again. “I wish my son was here to see me. I can imagine him saying ‘Look at my mom, nothing is impossible for her.’ It’s all about doing the work, and he would’ve appreciated that.” Denise’s work is a way to honor her son and their bond; working outside with other people keeps her grief at bay and motivates her to wake up each day with purpose.
Denise’s best advice for other women and mothers who want to find their purpose in construction: prove to your employer that you are worth their time. “I’m a team player, I’ll better myself for your company. I’m an asset to your company. That’s the attitude I have when I go to work each day. Hard work is rewarding work, and this is just the beginning.”