Fact: women make up less than 4% of skilled laborers in the U.S. construction industry (9% of the industry, overall). “It’s an unacceptable imbalance that has existed for decades,” says history-making plumber and tradeswoman warrior, Judaline Cassidy. So she’s on a determined mission to fix it through the mentorship-based nonprofit she founded for girls, Tools & Tiaras. To fuel her organization’s latest change-making, strong girl-forging initiative, Judaline is crowdfunding to raise the money needed to run the organization’s first-ever Construction Skills Summer Camp for girls, a unique, hands-on program that combines skill-building, confidence-boosting, and stereotype-busting. Sign. Us. Up!
Judaline was born and raised on the twin islands of Trinidad and Tobago, where she was one of the first three women selected to pursue plumbing at the John Donaldson Technical Institute (now the University of Trinidad and Tobago). For the last twenty years, she has been a plumber in New York City, and notes, “I am incredibly proud of what I do, of the countless obstacles I have overcome, and of everything I have achieved working in one of the most male-dominated fields in the world.” In addition to being the first woman accepted into Plumbers Local Union No. 371 in Staten Island, NY, she was the first woman elected to the Examining Board of Plumbers Local Union No. 1.
Judaline knows, firsthand, that “the future of the construction industry depends on the ability to get all capable hands on deck, and that MUST include the hands of women.” She adds, “To ensure this happens, I also know that something has to give, and that something is making skill-based, rewarding, and lucrative occupations like electrician, carpenter, plumber, and auto mechanic accessible to and approachable for girls.” It’s why she’s dedicated herself to promoting a positive representation of women in construction, to crushing the stereotypes, and to showing girls the possibilities… all of them.
Launching a mentoring organization that gets girls excited about and interested in the Mechanical, Industrial, and Technical Trades had always been Judaline’s dream. But her vision for Tools & Tiaras was fully realized at the 2017 MAKERS Conference while she was on stage sharing her story and speaking about overcoming discrimination in the workplace, gaining equal pay, and access to the Plumbers Union. “In that moment, I made a public commitment to build a 501(c)(3) through which I would inspire girls and young women to consider the design and skilled trades by cultivating their interest in these fields, fields which still sadly fall outside the range of what society deems ‘women’s work’.” It was part of Judaline’s bigger promise “to continue to fight to eliminate the many gender-based obstacles and resistance I encountered so no future tradeswoman has to experience the same.”
A true labor of love and sisterhood, Tools & Tiaras aims to inspire girls and young women – from elementary through high school – to imagine, design, and build their own futures. Judaline and her team do this by exposing girls to rewarding and lucrative Trades careers, by connecting them with professionals and tradeswomen leaders, and through their hands-on, skill-building workshops that teach the basics of plumbing, electrical, carpentry, sheet metal, architecture, and auto mechanics.
The organization’s ultimate goal is “to equip our girls and young women with the grit, moxie, and warrior spirit they need to succeed in whatever professional path they choose for themselves, be it the trades or otherwise.”
To date, Judaline and her team have run 10 successful Tools & Tiaras workshops in and around NYC and are gearing up for their first Construction Skills Summer Camp this July in Brooklyn.
Over the course of three weeks, a maximum of 60 girls – ages 6 to 19 – will be able to participate in daily, hands-on workshops, led by Judaline and other highly skilled tradeswomen. Week one is for girls ages 6 to 10; week two is for girls ages 11 to 13; and week three is for young women ages 14 to 19.
Their Tools & Tiaras Construction Skills Summer Camp is free to girls, but because of the materials and tools required to create effective programming, the cost to the organization is $375 per girl. So Judaline recently launched a crowdfunding campaign on our sister platform – Women You Should Fund – to raise the money necessary to sponsor the maximum number of girls to attend.
In the last 3 weeks, 84 backers have already pledged nearly $17,500 (approximate total at the time of this posting) to her campaign, which puts Judaline and the Tools & Tiaras team just $2,500 away from their goal of $20,000. As this is an all-or-nothing campaign, they have to reach that dollar amount before the campaign ends on Friday, June 29 in order to receive any of the funds raised. If they exceed that goal, they will allocate the additional funds toward their future plan to replicate the Tools & Tiaras camp model in different cities across the country.
Every dollar pledged to the Tools & Tiaras campaign over the next 9 days counts in a big way, and the hope is that people who come to know of Judaline’s work will be inspired to support it in whatever way they can. For those who give, there’s great gratitude swag – aka rewards – at various campaign pledge levels as a way for the Tools & Tiaras team to say “thanks for your generosity”. For those who are not in a position to financially back the campaign, just sharing it with others is also a powerful form of support.
Judaline tells us it’s been proven that girls who participate in programs like Tools & Tiaras are more likely to be leaders. “They take an active role in decision making, they don’t shy away from difficult challenges, and they have total confidence in themselves.” With the risk of sounding repetitive… Sign. Us. Up!
Support the Tools & Tiaras Crowdfunding Campaign Now
By doing so you not only become an invaluable part of Judaline’s movement of change, you are making a tangible impact by helping to forge strong girls. Could there be a more important and soul-filling return on your investment?