During the 2019 NWIR Day, Heidi J. Ellsworth, NWIR Past Chair, was thrilled to announce an ongoing pilot with Purple Purse. Purples Purse is part of the Allstate Foundation helping women escape financial abuse which is a large but unheard part of domestic violence.

A panel of ladies who were part of the Nashville NWIR/Purple Purse pilot presented via a panel moderated by Ellsworth. The panel included:

  • Michelle Boykin, Rackley Roofing Company, Inc.
  • Laura Glaza – Allstate Foundation Purple Purse
  • Eshell Eady – YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee
  • Liz Tipping – Cotney Construction Law

Laura Glaza of the Allstate Foundation opened the panel with facts that astonished the crowd. Did you know that 1 in 4 women will be affected by domestic violence? With a startling demonstration having a quarter of the audience stand up, Glaza went on to explain how purple is the national color of domestic violence. She talked about how the purse stands for a women’s financial independence and how important it is to offer career paths to escape the violence pointing to roofing as a great career opportunity for women looking for a fresh start.

Michelle Boykin of Rackley Roofing followed Glaza sharing her experience through the pilot program. Boykin played a critical role in the pilot not only as NWIR Recruitment Chair but as the COO of Rackley Roofing she worked with her company and the local YWCA who is a part of the Purple Purse network. Boykin not only started sharing information with the YWCA about jobs and careers in roofing but also evaluated Rackley’s employment manuals and procedures to ensure that they were appropriate and welcoming to domestic violence survivors. Educating her staff on the importance of confidentiality and security, Boykin also organized a field trip to a low-slope roof for the women of the shelter so they could learn more about working on the roof. The goal was to share real life environment for women who may consider joining the roofing workforce.

Echell Eady with the WYCA in TN spoke next. She helps run the largest shelter in the state and was thrilled to learn about the four pillars of NWIR. She was able to lead a group of ladies in a roofing field trip with Boykin and experience and learn for herself what the rooftop was like. Now her career service specialist is singing the praises of the roofing industry at large. They are actively working to match up women within their shelter to step into the roofing industry and the stable workforce designed to transform the lives of women. She shared the incredible need to find sustainable, safe jobs and careers for domestic violence survivors and how the NWIR is creating amazing opportunities for the women in their program.

Finally, Liz Tipping of Cotney Construction Law shared a legal perspective for the audience of 220 women. Tipping and Cotney Construction Law overall was thrilled to engage in the pilot. Tipping worked throughout the pilot with other women lawyers from Cotney as legal advisor for Rackley with the aim of offering help to any roofing contractor who would like to hire through the Purple Purse program. It was through her leadership that NWIR was able to put together a resource that is designed to assist roofing business owners, so they know how to modify their employee handbook to embrace domestic abuse victims. The legal team and NWIR team members are wrapping up a new proposed policy resource that helps map out confidentiality agreement, legal protection and policies that can define how to address employees who have suffered from domestic violence violations.

Ellsworth wrapped up the panel with final comments from Glaza and Boykin and a call to action for the women in the audience. As the NWIR Recruitment committee finalizes toolkits and partnerships with Purple Purse, NWIR councils and members are encouraged to contact their local YWCA and see how they can help. The YWCA partners with Purple Purse across the country. Through the power of the NWIR network, women in roofing will be able to partner with shelters across the country to transform women’s lives with a potential career in roofing.

The NWIR Recruitment committee plans on launching a full Council Toolkit in June of 2019. For more information or to get involved, please contact Chelsea Welsh, NWIR Recruitment Chair at cwelsh@semetals.com or visit www.nationalwomeninroofing.org.