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Merlene Davis: From electrical repairs to valance construction, Ms. Fix-it Fair can help

Serena Cassidy attended a Ms. Fix-It Fair about three years ago, just to see what it was all about and what she could learn.

A Realtor with Rector Hayden Realtors, Cassidy enjoyed it so much, she later joined the group of women who were hosting it.

"They are phenomenal women," she said. "They are truly designed to be a network for women."

The group, the Bluegrass Chapter of the National Association of Women in Construction, is hosting its eighth annual fix-it fair to not only empower women to tackle do-it-yourself projects around the home, but also to educate them about the tools necessary to do the work.

"It is a nonintimidating environment in which to learn something they otherwise wouldn't, and it empowers them to do things around the house," said Jenny Leitch, president of NAWIC locally. "They may not build a table or window treatments, but they will learn about the tools and the technique."

Cassidy is proof of that.

She has gone from a fair attendee to an instructor, and she will be showing participants how to build a 2-feet by 2-feet outside table with a tile top.

In that class, "women will learn how to use a miter saw to cut stair dowels for the table legs and to cut wood molding for the trim," Leitch said. "They will also learn to use a drill to secure the legs and trim to the table and the paint and tile the table."

"All the workshops are hands-on," Cassidy said. "Not everyone will get to make their own rain barrel, but they will participate in the making of a rain barrel and learn how to make one of their own."

The rain-barrel session will be taught by a representative from Bluegrass Greensource, formerly know, as Bluegrass PRIDE, a nonprofit environmental organization.

Along those lines, there will be a session on solar technology for the home, including the installation of solar lighting for a deck or porch which doesn't require wiring. "All you need are a drill and a screwdriver," Leitch said.

Other workshops include basic plumbing which involves repairing minor leaks and replacing a garbage disposal, and basic electrical repairs, such as installing light switches. Dry wall repairs; tile, grouting and caulking; and winterizing a lawn mower are other sessions included.

Plus, a Home Depot representative will demonstrate how to make window treatments, such as cornices or valances, from fabric, foam board and staples.

Ms. Fix-it is a fundraiser for the local NAWIC chapter so the group can offer members professional development opportunities, leadership training, and college scholarships for younger women entering the construction field, Leitch said.

The women also do community service projects and they host the Block Kids Building Competition in February for elementary students.

Nationally, NAWIC started as Women in Construction of Fort Worth, Texas, in 1953. It became so popular through networking that it gained a national charter in 1955. The Bluegrass chapter started in 2001.

"I encourage young women in college who are going into the industry to come by and meet us," Cassidy said. "We offer a variety of assistance. We are a sorority of sorts. I can't say enough good things about this group."

As many as 200 women are expected at the fair, which takes place from 9 a.m.- 3:30 p.m. on Aug. 23. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m., at Spencerian College, 1575 Winchester Road. Men are also welcome. The cost is $10, and participants can attend one session or stay all day. Door prizes will be given away between sessions. Lunch from Billy's Bar-B-Q will be available for purchase from noon-1 p.m..

"This is all about things women can do without hiring someone," Leitch said.

Or, for that matter, waiting for a man to finally get around to doing it for you.

"A lot of times women are afraid to try things because they are afraid of messing up," Cassidy said.

Ms. Fix-it can fix that.

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