Women in Construction Week: Q&A with Brooke & Chaela

A Q&A with Brooke & Chaela, Operations Team Members

This week is National Women in Construction Week. As a home repair nonprofit, we’re especially proud of the women who help move our mission forward. This week, we want to highlight women who work directly with our home repair program.

Brooke Perkins and Chaela Johnson work on our operations staff as project managers. They perform home assessments, plan repairs, work with volunteers, and even perform repairs as needed. They each took a few moments to answer questions highlighting their experience.

Why did you accept a job at Rebuild Upstate? What appealed to you about this role?

Brooke – Before I came to Rebuild Upstate I spent years flipping houses. There’s no way to deny that flipping houses prices low income families out of their neighborhoods. It’s just the basic math of the high cost of property and materials and services that makes it so. The issue is real and was on my heart so I took some time to look at organizations in Greenville and see what they were doing to help provide housing for low income families. I found Rebuild Upstate, loved their mission and left a voicemail saying that I would be interested in any job they had. They hired me!  

Chaela – My desire has always been to do meaningful work with my life. I knew I would find this through a nonprofit organization but I never came across one that aligned with my skill set quite like Rebuild Upstate did. With a management background in roofing, I knew that many of my skills would transfer well. Since joining the team, a day has not gone by that I’m not excited about the work I’m doing. Especially since Rebuild has a higher purpose then just turning over a profit

Tell us about your role. Which parts of our home repair program do you directly support?

Brooke – I am a project manager. I help see projects through from initial inspection to completion. I plan the projects and compile a list of materials that will be needed. I oversee volunteers and contractors in the completion of repairs needed for our homeowners.  

Chaela – My title is Project Coordinator. I get to organize, prepare, and complete all the little details that go into every job that Rebuild Upstate does. Whether it’s planning out the calendar, matching projects to volunteer groups, ordering supplies, or completing paperwork, my job always keeps me on my toes. I also oversee our Handyman Club and Site Leaders.

What is your favorite part of your job?

Brooke –  I really enjoy connecting with our homeowners and helping to bring very much needed repairs to their homes. I also enjoy working with a team of people with similar passions to mind.  

Chaela – The people. I love interacting with all the amazing, different people that my job puts in my path. Whether it’s volunteers, contractors, homeowners, or fellow staff, I truly enjoy all the amazing souls that I have the privilege of interacting with.

Tell us about working with adult and youth volunteers who are women.

Brooke – Often I get very real opportunities to empower women, young and old, by showing them that they can do new things and hard things.  I love hearing “I can’t wait to show my dad!” or “Take a video for me to send to my daughter!”  Also I enjoy showing women how to tackle simple repairs and maintenance in their homes.  Many homeowners allow problems to go unaddressed because of a lack of resources, yet the repairs are simple and totally something they could do if they were empowered to do so.  

Is there one particular experience with our program that stands out to you?

Brooke – Generally, I am inspired by our homeowners. Typically they are people who have contributed much to our community and find themselves in need of repairs for their homes that are simply out of their capability physically and financially. I have met former foster parents, journalists, health care workers, educators, artists, factory workers and much more. I participate in meaningful work and that is not everyone’s experience. It makes early mornings easier.  

Chaela – Volunteers, diligence, empowerment, ready to go/learn, accept a new challenge

What skills or training have you acquired since starting this job? 

Brooke – In previous years I worked on my own.  At Rebuild Upstate I have really enjoyed working with a team. Our Operations team has demonstrated to me so many benefits and healthy practices of working with a good team.  I’m grateful for the experience.  

Chaela – Strategic planning is a skill that I have acquired since starting at Rebuild Upstate. Trying to match the right volunteer group to the right project, at the best location, with the right skill set, etc. takes time to put together perfectly

Anything else to add? What do you want the broader Rebuild Upstate community to know?

Brooke – Rebuild Upstate is a great organization.  Find a way to get involved. You won’t regret it.  

Chaela – Greenville is an amazing city, and it’s been growing A LOT. It’s great to see the city flourish, but it’s also the community’s responsibility to protect the locals who made Greenville the city that everyone loves. By getting involved with Rebuild Upstate, you can help make that happen.

If someone wants to volunteer, how can they get plugged in?

Brooke – Our weekday volunteer teams, called Handyman Clubs, are magical and a great place to get involved with RU. My spirits are always lifted and I always learn new things when spending time on worksites with them. They knock out a large percentage of the repairs we complete each year. We have 4 teams currently, of welcoming, encouraging, individuals who volunteer weekly. I have often wished my dad lived closer by because he would really enjoy participating in a group like our HMCs.

Chaela – We have a volunteer club that meets weekly to help with more involved projects. We call them the Handyman Club! As of now, we have four separate Handyman Clubs that meet throughout the week to help tackle projects that need smaller groups of people in order to finish the projects. We have a few different women in some of our Handyman clubs already, and we would love to see the number of women and men keep increasing! 

Want to join the HMC? Send Chaela an email at [email protected]