Cleveland Heights resident Leslie Wickert Powers helped her friend replace the wood siding on her garage with a group of women.
They will soon help someone else raise the foundation around her home using dirt so that water doesn’t seep through.
Powers met the group through the Women’s Home Home-To program offered by the . The course covered plumbing, electrical work, drywall installation, brick tuckpointing, carpentry and more.
“We all felt very comfortable learning in that environment, in the safety of a group of women where no question was stupid,” Powers said. “It was fun. We had a graduation class at the end.”
The next women’s course will begin May 9, and is now offered to all Northeast Ohio residents. The program is comprised of four modules, with eight two-hour classes each, and each module is limited to 18 women. Tuition is $120 per module for Cleveland Heights residents and $150 for non-residents, and reduced rates are available for low-income residents.
Powers, 53, grew up in Cleveland Heights, but lived in Lake County for many years before returning to her home city in December 2010. She bought a three-story home on Quilliams that was built in 1927. She is the third owner and said the house was “pretty much stuck in time.”
Her priority was making it safe. She used the skills she learned in the women’s program to work with a friend to rewire her kitchen, furnish new outlets and a light and run electricity and internet up to the attic where her daughter lives. And though not every project she encountered, like installing a new furnace, was DIY, she had the confidence to talk to contractors.
“They taught us questions to ask and what to look for. Having knowledge makes a big difference when talking to a repair person,” she said.
Powers pointed to a light switch labeled in her kitchen with masking tape. When she first moved in, the electrical box wasn’t accurate, and big appliances were on the same circuit. She ran up and down the stairs, testing each switch until they were correct, and made her appliances more efficient by not having them share circuits.
She flipped through a binder she created during the course and talked about future projects — tuckpointing a brick stairway that leads to her front porch, exposing the hardwood floors beneath the rugs and building new countertops in her kitchen. She’ll ask the other women for help for some of the work.
“I know I can call — (the program) builds a sense of community.”
For more information on the "Home How-To" program for women, visit the Home Repair Resouce Center’s website or call Becky Stager, repair education programs coordinator at 216-381-6100, ext. 16.