Habitat for Humanity in Whatcom County

Edie Stickel Update — One Volunteer’s Pathway into the Building Trades

Edie Stickel Update — One Volunteer’s Pathway into the Building Trades

We were so happy to learn this year that one of our former construction volunteers, Edie Stickel, has been accepted in the UBC, Local 70 Carperter’s Union Apprenticeship Program, and is well underway to becoming a certified carpenter. 

What is a Carpenters Apprenticeship Program? “It’s kinda like if you went to a four year university,” Edie said, “Except that instead of ending up with a bunch of debt, you’re working and getting paid.” 

Not long ago, before her life as a carpenter, Edie worked various warehouse jobs. She did that for ten years and wanted a change. Through WorkSource she found out about a pre apprenticeship program at the Northwest Carpenters Institute. “I figured that I had nothing else going on,” she said, “So I might as well check it out.” 

“So I liked it so much,” Edie said, “I can’t imagine doing anything else now.” 

“That’s when I discovered I could use a saw, swing a hammer, and do things I never thought were possible,” she said. Following the class, Edie had to take the trade orientation test, which involved carrying sheets of plywood, stacks of two by fours, pushing a wheelbarrow with 200lbs, pulling a bucket of 30lbs up and over a handrail, and driving nails and screws, as well as a math and measurement test.

Edie passed, but wanted a better score. One of her instructors at the pre apprenticeship class told her volunteering for Habitat would be a good way to get some experience. So in the first few months of 2020, Edie spent some time working, and developing her skills at the Telegraph Townhomes, first as a volunteer, then as a Habitat staff member. 

Edie did a lot of it on her own,” said Chris van Staalduinen, Construction Manager at the Telegraph Townhomes, “We just gave her a chance to get more comfortable doing carpentry.”

“The cool thing about Habitat is one week we might be doing concrete work, the next week we might be putting up cabinets. We offer a broad exposure to a lot of different aspects of building. 

We also take the time to show people the proper way to do things. We can do this because we don’t solely have a production mindset like a for-profit jobsite…it’s hard in a for-profit industry of any kind to find a way to get your feet wet, to see if you like it or don’t like it.” 

Edie got the score she wanted on the trade orientation test, did her interview, and got accepted into the program. She worked with us until her apprenticeship began.

These days, Edie is working on a project in Seattle. “We are remodeling some office space downtown….My first two jobs were ground up projects, where we went from building the forms to pour the concrete bases of the buildings. The projects I’m on right now are remodel, so it’s all interior and finish carpentry kind of work. It’s a pretty big variety. I haven’t really decided what I want to do yet, but I have a few years to figure it out.” 

We’re so happy Edie found something she was passionate about, and that Habitat was able to offer her an opportunity to get more comfortable with carpentry, and develop her skills. A few more years and Edie will be a certified carpenter. She’s looking forward to volunteering with Habitat again when her busy schedule allows for it.  


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