~~~~All that is essential for the triumph of evil is that good people do nothing~~~~
HAILEY (British). "Hay clearing," places in England.
BRANDON (British). ). "Hill covered with broom."
Girls With Tools teaches Corbett Neighborhood 8- to 15-year-olds how to work with their hands.
Photos by RENEE BRACAMONTE/Tucson Citizen
Her eyes wide behind safety goggles, Harley-Quinn Alonzo bears down on the power drill, creating a flurry of sawdust as
she bores three holes into a pine shelf.
She then meticulously attaches shaker pegs with carpenter's glue. She's ready to paint the shelf purple.
The 10-year-old can't wait to hang her wooden masterpiece in her bedroom.
"I'm going to hang my backpack on it, a few of my hats and I'm going to put my stuffed monkeys on top," the
fifth-grader from Lineweaver Elementary School says.
Harley is one of a half-dozen girls who built shelves this week at Girls With Tools, a free program for 8- to 15-year-olds.
She admits to being nervous the first time she used power tools in the class.
"It felt like a challenge, but I like challenges," she says. Now she handles the power tools like a pro.
Girls With Tools started in August 2002 at the Zuni Avenue Peace Center, 6054 E. 30th St., at Zuni Avenue. The Southeast
Side neighborhood center, a program of the Shalom Mennonite Fellowship, offers neighbors a positive place to work and play
together, Girls With Tools director Leslie Pike says.
The weekly workshop grew from a carpentry class attended by girls and boys.
"The boys wanted to show the girls how to use the tools," Pike says. "They would say, 'Let me show you
how to do it,' and the girls would step back and let the boys do it."
The girls soon voiced their frustration and recommended a class for girls only.
"As a person who wasn't allowed to take shop, I completely agreed with them," Pike says. In the 1970s, her father
petitioned the principal at Pike's Tennessee high school to allow her to take shop instead of home economics.
"The answer was no," says Pike, now the mother of two teenage sons. "I've always been interestd in hands-on
activities, but I was not at all into making A-line skirts or having a fashion show. I wanted to learn to build things."
So when the girls asked for their own class, volunteers immediately agreed.
"They experience a kind of freedom in an all-girl setting," Pike says. "They take more risks."
The weekly Wednesday workshop is aimed at girls living in the Corbett Neighborhood, bounded by 22nd Street and Golf Links,
Wilmot and Craycroft roads. The class is limited to nine.
On the back patio of a white brick home owned by Shalom Mennonite Fellowship, girls create items ranging from simple shelves
to elaborate cabinets and dollhouses.
Original funding came from the Peace Center. A grant from PRO Neighborhoods allowed the group to buy tools, and a $5,000
grant from the Community Foundation of Southern Arizona provides for a facilitator's salary plus tools and materials, Pike
"The girls really grow in their confidence and willingness to take risks and their ability to problem-solve,"
Laura Johansen, Harley's mother, believes the workshop "empowers" girls.
"It's all about girls," the nuclear medicine technologist says. "It's awesome. Girls can use power tools.
That's empowering to me and I'm 30 years old."
Johansen hopes to start a similar class in her Barrio Centro neighborhood.
Beth Gamble and her 17-year-old daughter, Kelly, volunteer, as well.
"It really builds their confidence," Beth Gamble says. "It's wonderful to see at the end of the project,
when they see what they built themselves."
Eight-year-old Haley Garland searched through paint cans, hoping to find raspberry for her shelf.
"This class helps me with artistic stuff," the Corbett Elementary third-grader says.
LeAnna Crider, 11, has built a couple of projects through Girls With Tools. Pike showed the Vail Middle School student
how to use an orbital sander to even out brackets.
"I think it's great," LeAnna's father, John Crider, says of Girls With Tools. "It doesn't matter whether
you're a boy or a girl, it teaches them how to use the tools, how to be safe and how to be responsible."
Pike says the class offers the girls freedom to take chances.
"If you give girls - or anyone - the opportunity to learn in an environment where they don't feel scared to make
a mistake or look foolish, they will be successful."