by K.D. Barros
For the better part of 3 months, Jessica Treasure of Kissimmee, Florida left her home early in the morning to perform volunteer work on a Kingdom Hall construction project in Lockhart, Florida. “I was involved in various aspects of the project from the installation of HVAC and electrical to finish drywall” she states.
Women represent only 3.9% of tradespeople working in construction nationally, according to an Institute for Women’s Policy Research report that cites U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
By contrast, the Witnesses’ construction projects regularly see large percentages of female volunteers, both skilled and unskilled.
“We would be lost without our vast number of women volunteers,” said Robert Hendriks, U.S. spokesperson for Jehovah’s Witnesses. “Their attention to detail, high quality of work and infectious enthusiasm are all vital to the success of our building projects.”
When the Witnesses moved their headquarters from Brooklyn, New York, upstate to the town of Warwick in recent years, the construction project drew some 27,000 volunteers from around the country, 25% of whom were women — like Kierstin Golec of Huntington, Massachusetts.
Golec and fellow female volunteers were assigned to site excavation efforts within days of arriving on the project. They received intensive training to operate heavy equipment right alongside the men on the crew. Golec vividly recalls the first time she came face to face with the dump truck she’d soon be driving.
“I approached the vehicle, and the tires were taller than me!” she said. “It was a surreal, humbling and exciting experience.”
Reflecting on the three years she spent volunteering on the build, Golec says she won’t forget the confidence shown in her and other female volunteers.
“All of us, men and women, were trained so we could be involved to the fullest extent possible,” she said. “They displayed a lot of trust in us equally, and I’m forever grateful to have been treated with such dignity.”
Jessica, mentioned earlier, expressed a similar sentiment about the Lockhart Kingdom Hall project. She states: “You’re working with individuals who have decades of experience under their belt. Their patience and willingness to teach me what they knew made me feel, not only wanted, but needed.”
For more information about Jehovah’s Witnesses, their history, beliefs and construction activities, visit their official website, jw.org, with content available in more than 1,000 languages.