In 1991, Elaine Hamel was determined to help a young neighbor (a girl whose parents suffered from addictions and had difficulty caring for her) go to summer camp. Elaine was then a struggling young general contractor unable to afford the camp’s tuition. So, she offered to teach campers how to build in exchange for her neighbor’s tuition. The camp director accepted her offer. That summer, Elaine loaded her truck with tools and materials, headed to camp, and that is how it all began! The girls at the camp were so excited to learn how to use power tools that they started building after breakfast and continued until dinner time! Many even built after dinner. They were unstoppable! Elaine knew that she wanted to give other girls this same experience.
using timbers salvaged from a 200 year old barn, Elaine built a workshop where she could develop a building program specifically for girls. She knew from experience that girls can be inhibited when learning non-traditional skills, and in a setting where they are outnumbered by boys. In 2000, she proudly founded Girls at Work, Inc. in order to provide girls-only woodshop classes that empower girls to learn to build with other girls in a supportive and encouraging environment.
Since 2000, over 5,000 girls have participated in programs with Girls at Work, Inc. The transformation this program offers girls is breathtaking. The girls who stand tall and beaming with pride by their finished projects in the afternoon are an entirely changed group from the girls who walked into the work area in the morning timid, shy and intimidated. They are proud, confident, excited and powerful. A team.
The mission of Girls at Work, Inc. has always been to provide programming for girls at risk: Girls in foster care, homeless shelters and low-income families, girls with incarcerated prents or parents in rehab programs. All girls at risk.
1999– Timbers salvaged from a 200 year old barn to build new ‘reborn barn’ for Girls at Work, Inc.
2000 – First small workshops held in our workshop in New Hampshire with only a few tools.
2001 – Grants awarded to Girls at Work, Inc. to purchase tools to equip work stations/workshop.
2002 – Many more classes for girls at risk held in workshop.
2003 – Women’s classes offered, partnerships begin to form with Girl Scouts, Girls Inc….
2004 – Inner city girls from Girls Inc. build picnic tables for the Christa McCaulliff Planetarium.
2005 – Girls at Work, Inc. sets up a booth in exhibit hall of American Camping Association in Manchester to introduce program to camp directors.
2006 – Girls at Work, Inc. goes on the road setting up workshops all over New England at summer camps/organizations that serve girls at risk.
2007– Girls at Work, Inc. sets up shop at camps in Maine and Vermont.
2008 – Girls at Work, Inc. offers staff training workshops to camp staff to focus on team building.
2009 – Build with girls from France, Spain and many other countries at Camp Chinqueka in Connecticut.
2010 – Girls at Work, Inc. holds first ‘musicfest’ fundraiser in Concord NH to a packed house.
2011 – Girls at Work, Inc. holds second ‘musicfest’ fundraiser and doubles both attendees and fundraising goal from 2010.
2012 – Girls at Work, Inc. retires long time board members and adds six new board members.
2012 – Girls at Work, Inc. unveils new public website.