Story of the Month
November 2022: Constant Innovation
Our Story this month reveals the beauty and power of a woman leading—in a way Barb Oliver calls “Constant Innovation.”
A woman on a mission
Barb Oliver, Director of Operations/ Volunteer Coordinator, with Sound Foundations NW is both fearless and caring. She grew up, like many of us, with our culture’s stereotypes of what women should do and what men should do. “My Dad wouldn’t let me use a hammer, she comments, “because I was a girl.” And now – – – here she is, in a situation where she daily oversees a busy, buzzing construction process. Sound Foundations NW constructs tiny transitional homes for the homeless, hundreds of them.
One of her favorite experiences, Barb explains, is “teaching.” Since all the homes are constructed by volunteers, she has lots of opportunity to teach. A favorite task, she acknowledges, is teaching women to use power tools. “It empowers them!” With a gleam in her eye, she shares how much she loves this work. “It’s like watching a flower bloom.” Many of the volunteers, both women and men, have never worked in construction before, and have never held a power tool. Here they get the satisfaction of developing new skills – as well as – the satisfaction of seeing a tiny home grow from a pile of lumber to a home, using a wide assortment of tools. To know that they had a hand in creating this home – is precious satisfaction for the volunteers.
Barb oversees around 20-25 volunteers, six days per week. Our volunteers are indeed our most valuable resource,” she explains. Folks who have no experience in construction use power saws to cut 10 Ft. long 2 x 4s into rafters, position shingles in place on roofs, paint, install flooring, build steps, and lots of other tasks.