A Habitat for Humanity Vancouver Island North carpenter is giving women an education in home maintenance.

When not working full-time at the Campbell River construction site, Shelby Rollefson offers free ‘Empowerment Classes’ through her business Be Kind Woodworking.

With a focus on hand and power tools, the classes are geared towards women.

“Putting a tool which has only ever been advertised for men in the hands of a woman is an empowering act in itself,” says Rollefson.

Topics include understanding basic tools, using drywall anchors, installing doorknobs, and minor drywall repairs.

Before starting her first construction labourer job at 18, Rollefson says she never held a power tool.

“I didn’t know the difference between a nail and a screw. I ended up staying because my boss and supervisor were so supportive. They provided a wonderful environment to work in long enough for me to fall in love with working with my hands and to start developing my skills.”

While her classes aren’t affiliated with Habitat for Humanity, she hopes they will encourage more women to volunteer on Habitat’s construction site.

From Rollefson’s experience, many roadblocks prevent people from volunteering on a build-site for their first time.

She says this can feel magnified for women.

“You can now add the additional barrier of walking into this same situation knowing you will possibly be the only woman with an entire construction site of men. That can be very intimidating.”

Rollefson adds her classes are in a low-pressure environment, allowing women to gain skills and confidence while working with other women.

“When a woman is able to pick up a tool in her own home and fix something for herself without having to call on anyone, that’s incredibly liberating.”

The classes are held on Habitat’s 477 Hilchey Rd. construction site in Campbell River.

To register, visit this Facebook page.