Although formed in 2017, Hope Renovations originally planned to launch in late winter 2020. But then Covid struck. Encouraged by women who had signed up for the training program and who were eager to join the still booming construction industry, and after putting ironclad Covid protocols in place to protect the vulnerable population they planned to serve; Hope Renovations launched both programs in July 2020. By the end of December they had already completed 25 jobs for homeowners in the community and graduated 13 women from their training program.
What started as a career in corporate human resources and recruiting for Nora Spencer at Lowe’s Home Improvement headquarters evolved into self-taught handy-person skills and a passion for hands-on home remodeling. Frustrated that she never met other women in the building trades and tired of working for a business bottom line, Nora decided to work for her community and social change. She went back to school, earned a master’s in social work from UNC-Chapel Hill, and then combined her HR background with her love of the building trades.
The result is Hope Renovations, an innovative non-profit that provides (1) training for women interested in the skilled trades, and (2) an all-female construction crew that does home repairs and renovations for seniors (age 55+) and adults with disabilities, regardless of income.
Hope Renovations’ training program teaches job safety and construction basics in the areas of carpentry, plumbing, painting, finishing tiling, HVAC and appliance repair. Trainees receive an OSHA certification as well as career development counseling. The goal is to prepare women for living wage jobs in the trades. Trainees also get the opportunity to put their new found skills into action by assisting the construction crew at their various job sites.
Working with Carl Baumann, Nora developed a business plan and says, “I absolutely attribute our success to having that very thorough and intentional business focused blueprint from the very start, which I couldn’t have done without my mentor.”
Carl’s continuous mentoring even after the business plan was completed, to help answer questions and be a sounding board as questions popped up along the way, has been invaluable to Nora. She says people often have a preconceived notion of nonprofits not being a business, but they really are.
“One of the values of SCORE working with a nonprofit is bringing that business lens to an industry that doesn’t have enough of it. It’s been a key piece of our success and so many more nonprofits would be successful if they had that business mentorship.”