Nick Jackson, Tacoma Habitat’s Construction Projects Manager, designed a two-year Apprentice Construction Manager program with the objective of taking individuals who have an understanding of Habitat for Humanity’s mission and its volunteer-centric mindset and mentoring them into Construction Site Managers with a full cadre of construction skills.
“Habitat for Humanity has a certain way of building homes. We want people who understand that and who put the mission and the importance of utilizing volunteers first,” says Jackson.
The program’s pilot will launch this fall with apprentices Meredith and Jessica, who each previously served an AmeriCorps term at Tacoma Habitat. Meredith completed her term as Volunteer Services Coordinator in August of 2022, and Jessica served in 2021 as Construction Crew Leader. The two will begin their new roles at Madison Meadow, where there are currently six units in active construction, offering ample opportunity for learning and leading under Jackson’s guidance.
The apprenticeship curriculum calls for seasoned Site Managers to instruct and evaluate Meredith’s and Jessica’s progress on essential benchmarks at each phase of construction, from foundations through interior trim and landscaping, while balancing the integration of unskilled volunteer labor throughout—an essential skill on any Habitat build site. Jackson also hopes to collaborate with Habitat’s regular subcontractors to offer the apprentices exposure to trades like plumbing, electrical, and concrete flatwork.
While the fact that the first two Apprentice Construction Managers are women is coincidence, it presents a unique opportunity for Women Build—the Habitat for Humanity program that encourages the involvement of women in the construction of Habitat homes. As part of their work, Meredith and Jessica will lead the Women Build volunteer day scheduled for December 3.
“When we do Women Build, it’s important that it be led by women. We have some terrific volunteer Women Build Crew Chiefs who have been with us a long time and who will still be involved, but setting the tone with female staff is necessary to get Women Build where we want it to be,” says Tracey Sorenson, Director of Community Engagement.
Sorenson hopes that a women-led business or community group will step forward to sponsor Women Build on an annual basis, allowing Tacoma Habitat to offer more frequent build days led by the apprentices.
“I am excited for this opportunity and definitely feel up to the challenge,” says Meredith, who intentionally spent much of her AmeriCorps term on the construction site. “I know I can lead a siding crew already, and I’m eager to develop more skills.”