Program gives lesson to women: 'We Can Fix It'

BENNINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Women in western Vermont are learning how to protect themselves from being conned by a contractor.

It's a how-to class for women who want to know how to fix things around the house.

"If I can do it myself and I can do it right, then I will do it," said Sandra Wirasnik, a homeowner.

Morgan Over started the "We Can Fix It" class a couple of years ago in partnership with Neighborworks of Western Vermont, a nonprofit that provides funding for people to rehab their homes.

"How to unclog a drain, fix a toilet, maybe put in a new light switch," Over said.

She says that the majority of the time, women are the ones making the call on household repairs, yet she says they are less likely than men to have a good understanding of construction projects in general. "It's not just about the easy fix. It is about feeling confident to communicate your needs," she said. And learning how not to be taken advantage of, which she acknowledges can also happen to men.

Along with hands-on demonstrations, there is also classroom time. Aleta Bryant-Boutin is a recent window. "Just to know how some things work and to know how easy some things can be fixed, and when you have to call a contractor or a plumber or an electrician," Bryant-Boutin said.

The class costs $60 for five days. It's subsidized by Greater Bennington Interfaith Community Services Inc., a nonprofit that provides social programs for people in the community.

Some of the women in the room say they have had bad experiences with contractors. The instruction aims to prevent that in the future, while flipping the traditional gender roles around the home.

"I mean it used to be the woman stays home and cooks, and the man is the one who does all the manual labor and stuff. And I think that the men should learn how to cook too," Wirasnik said.

In the last year-and-a-half, Over has educated 120 women throughout Rutland and Bennington Counties. She hopes to expand the program into Addison County with the special message -- We Can Fix It.