Women In Construction program graduates new students

By Krystal Allan - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Collene Parks always knew she wanted to work with her hands. So, just nine weeks ago, she packed up and moved from Mobile to Biloxi, for the Women in Construction program.

"I was always my daddy's little boy, so I always liked doing home improvements around the house. And I wanted to learn how to do stuff on my own," says Parks.

Over the course of eight weeks, the women not only built homes in their community but a sense of self-reliance within themselves.

"When I own a home or something, I can fix it myself now.  You know I don't need a man to do it for me," says graduate Ammy Gensaw.

This year the program was more hands-on. The women spent most of the eight weeks on work sites rebuilding homes.

"Not only do they get to do hands on work, but they have a hand in getting residents into their homes," says Program Director Julie Kuklinkski.

Past graduates say giving women the tools they need to be self-reliant is more important than ever.

"The things that are happening in our government and country, you never know where you may land. So you got to hit the ground running with whatever skills you can pick up. I think that's very important at this time," says Carolyn Jones, a past graduate.

Some of the graduates already know how they plan to use those skills.

"I want to start my own business. I'd like to do a flooring and tile business cause I'm pretty good at it," says Gensaw.

With new tools and skills under their belts, Parks says if she and her classmates did it, any woman can.

"If there's a woman out there that wants to do this kind of work, she can do it if she puts her mind to it, because we're going to push the men out of the way and take over."

The program is sponsored through the Moore Community House. There's already 250 students on the waiting list, but it's likely the program will only have funding for about 15. For more information on the program or how you can help keep it going call 228-297-0965.