>
you're reading...
NASCSP Updates, Weatherization

Women of Weatherization (#13)

The Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) has been around for over 40 years and has served over 7.4 million households, saving families money and making their homes healthier and safer. From the very beginning of the WAP’s history, women have been a driving force in weatherization. This post is part of a month long feature for Women’s History Month. Each post will highlight a few of the women working across the country in the Weatherization Assistance Program. You can join the conversation on social media with the hashtag: #WomenOfWAP

Featured in this post…

Christie J. Martinez– Weatherization Manager, Texas

Linda Pyrtle– SR. Energy Auditor, Maine 

Anna Russell– Weatherization Admin Support Staff, California 

Jennifer Saenz- Program Assistant, California 

Lynda J. Timbers- Executive Director, California


Christie J. Martinez

Weatherization Manager, Nueces County Community Action Agency, Texas

C.Martinez

1.How did you first get interested and involved in weatherization?

I like building and construction. I got started in 1990 by purchasing homes to flip and re-sell. But I did not really know what I wanted in the home or how I wanted it to look, so I starting looking around at other homes to see their floor plans. I found that to be very enjoyable. I liked the thought of designing my own home. 

2.Tell us about your current and past roles in the WAP.

I started with the NCCAA in 1993 as a Weatherization Assessor and held this position for 15 years. During this time I learned the nuts and bolts of a home and  how to make a home more energy efficient. I attended workshops and conferences where I gained skills in caulking, inspecting homes, using a blower door, duct blasting, and drawing layouts of homes. I also learned the office part of the job which included audits, reports, work orders and how to communicate with sub-contractors. In 2008, I was promoted to Weatherization Manager, months before the implementation of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. A position I hold to this day. Under this program we weatherized 828 homes and operated a budget of $5.1 million.

3.What is it like being a woman in weatherization? Advantages? Challenges?

One of the biggest challenges is the obvious, in that this is traditionally a man’s field. This can create some issues where subcontractors (who are predominantly men) would rather speak to a male because they feel I don’t know much about weatherization and so I have to prove myself by showing them that I know the job. I know the terminologies, the equipment, materials, the process. I can cite city codes and enforcement but most importantly I can climb a ladder and check the attics and crawl under a house to make sure all is compliant.

And with the challenges comes advantages such as respect from other Community Action Agencies that have a Weatherization Department and by men who work in weatherization departments. Sometimes they feel a little intimidated but once they see what I can do and that I can hold my own, then we are all on the same level. It’s satisfying to know that women can work side-by-side in the same field as men and that women are capable of handling what has been traditionally a man’s job. I am so glad  I have had the opportunity to move into this area by first, having interest in this field and expressing that interest; then having guidance and support from the women who hired me to do such a job; and third, having continual backing and encouragement from women to get further in my job. No barriers have ever been placed upon me. In all the position that I have been hired for in the Weatherization Department, gender has never been an issue.

4.Why do you work in weatherization? What about your job makes you excited to go to work in the morning?

Every day is a new challenge. Every day is different.  I love our customers, I get great satisfaction knowing we have helped the elderly, and families in the community with weatherizing their homes when they did not have the financial means to do so themselves.I have a great staff, they are always willing to work as a team. I have great supervisors and great support.

5.Do you have advice for other women interested in joining the weatherization field?

It is a very rewarding job if you want the joy of helping others. We get to know our clients and see how else we can help them. We refer them to other agencies in the community that can serve them. It’s a very satisfying feeling especially when we help others that do not have the means to help themselves.


Linda Pyrtle

Energy Auditor, York County Community Action Corp., Maine

1.How did you first get interested and involved in weatherization?

During the housing crash in 2008, I ended up working for a Community Action Agency in New York State. At that time I had almost 25 years in home construction, I started on crew with Cayuga Seneca Community Action. I worked my way up working from on crew to Auditor/Crew Leader with Cayuga Seneca.

2.Tell us about your current and past roles in the WAP.

My current role is Auditor and Quality Control Inspector. My past roles were crew member, office role taking care of files, purchase orders, inventory, to Project Test outs, moving to Electric Reduction Audits to whole house audits.

3.What is it like being a woman in weatherization? Advantages? Challenges?

Advantage to being a woman is that most of our clients are elderly and they are at ease with my presence in their home. They see me as an equal and they won’t be taken advantage of. The challenge of being a woman is some clients assume I might not have the knowledge and skills until I talk to them about the program and perform the Audit.

4.Why do you work in weatherization? What about your job makes you excited to go to work in the morning?

I work in weatherization because I have an understanding of what most of our clients worry about, I have empathy for the struggles and losses that they go through. Working with all our different clientele. Knowledge really is power.

5.Do you have advice for other women interested in joining the weatherization field?

Learn and absorb everything you can


Anna Russell

Weatherization Admin Support Staff, North Coast Energy Services, Inc., California

1.How did you first get interested and involved in weatherization?

I work with the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program for utility assistance and weatherization of homes.

2.Tell us about your current and past roles in the WAP.

I provided weatherization administrative support to the HEAP program.

3.What is it like being a woman in weatherization? Advantages? Challenges?

An advantage to working in weatherization is learning the different aspects to installing measures in a home.

4.Why do you work in weatherization? What about your job makes you excited to go to work in the morning?

I really enjoy helping the clients we have.

5.Do you have advice for other women interested in joining the weatherization field?

I would just say do it.  It is a good field to work in.  You can learn a trade that can carry you through life and you can help a lot of people in need.


Jennifer Saenz

jenniferr

Program Assistant, Merced County Community Action Agency, California

1.How did you first get interested and involved in weatherization?

We are a small community. So when good things travel they travel fast.  I had heard of a place that helps fix up homes and lowers the power bill. At first you always think this is too good to be true.  But come to realize it was true and it was our local Community Action that was helping the families of Merced County. I had noticed that they were hiring and decided that I wanted to be apart of something good.  

2.Tell us about your current and past roles in the WAP.

I have been with WAP since 2012. And I love it.

3.What is it like being a woman in weatherization? Advantages? Challenges?

Being a woman and working for the weatherization is no different than for a man.  We are all one team.

4.Why do you work in weatherization? What about your job makes you excited to go to work in the morning?

Working in weatherization is my way of helping give back to the community.  We have a lot of people who live in the DAC. If I can help someone fill out an application for Weatherization to help lower there PG&E Bill and they get service then I know we did something good.

5.Do you have advice for other women interested in joining the weatherization field?

This a a great program to be involved in if you are interested in helping you community.


Lynda J. Timbers

Executive Director, Project GO, Inc., California

1.How did you first get interested and involved in weatherization?

I am the ED of a non-profit organization that had been receiving DOE funding since 1978.  I was hired in 1981.

2.Tell us about your current and past roles in the WAP.

In the early days, I participated in the actual weatherization because we were very small and if need be, I jumped in.  I went through the Basic Weatherization Training provided by PG&E, and learned as I worked. In later years, we evolved with the introduction of LIHEAP weatherization and utility funded weatherization programs in California, and we now have a staff of about a dozen who handle the outreach, intake, and installation of measures.

3.What is it like being a woman in weatherization? Advantages? Challenges?

As with women in any construction industry, it can be difficult.  I have dodged “falling” materials and tools, have been teased and ridiculed.  I’m pretty tough, however, so that didn’t last long, and the male crew workers quickly adapted to having a woman on the job site.  In later days, as the program administrator, I have gained the respect of my position, and I make sure to keep on top of the latest trends, standards, and installation techniques so that I can not only monitor the jobs, but act as a source of information for my staff.

4.Why do you work in weatherization? What about your job makes you excited to go to work in the morning?

We are not only making our clients home more comfortable and saving them energy and reducing energy costs, but we are also “saving the planet earth” by reducing the impact on our precious natural resources.  This is definitely a “feel good” job from all perspectives.

5.Do you have advice for other women interested in joining the weatherization field?

I say “GO for it!”  If you have an interest in working in the construction industry, you can make a real difference by working in the weatherization field.

Advertisements

About NASCSP

NASCSP Staff

Discussion

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Follow NASCSP on Twitter

Like NASCSP on Facebook

Like us on facebook

Follow NASCSP on Pinterest

NASCSP Pinterest
Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: