Girl Scouts Project Gets Boost from New Orleans Builders

Led by its Professional Women in Building Council, members of the HBA of Greater New Orleans are teaming up with a local Girl Scouts of America troop to restore and remodel a dilapidated cabin.

Once they’re finished, the troop will use the cabin for its education programs with a particular focus on STEM-related projects (science, technology, engineering and math).

Last week, the HBA members and the girls were featured in a local television news story on the learning experiences that rehabbing, painting and refitting a building can offer.

For the HBA members, there was an additional focus: The partnership helped to spotlight Professional Women in Building Week and bringing workforce development opportunities to young women and girls who typically don’t seriously consider a career in the home building industry.

girls paint door

New Orleans Girl Scouts put a fresh coat of paint on the cottage doors.

“What we are trying to do is to make sure that the building industry and building trades are incorporated as part of the STEM program,” said PWB council chair Diane Baum, CEO and environmental director at the Baum Environmental Group.

Programs like these that capture public attention help to raise awareness of STEM-related careers as an electrician or plumber, she said, and can help validate those career choices in the eyes of parents and high school counselors. It also helped that the mayor of New Orleans issued a proclamation congratulating the PWB for its initiative.

“Of course, our PWB raises money to give scholarships to the community colleges, but we are trying to get them into the industry a little earlier here,” she said.

While the PWB coordinated the volunteer effort, donations came from a wide variety of HBA members, Baum said. “Some gave cash, some gave materials like concrete and lumber,” and some came in person to help the girls learn how to do the work, she said.

Volunteers joined about 50 Scouts who each worked two-hour shifts, with some HBA members staying for the full day, to the organizers surprise and delight. “And it was a football Saturday, too,” Baum said.

The volunteers return this week to put a second coat of paint on the freshly primed doors.

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