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New Women's Organization Will Provide Building Trade Training

Rendering of new training center
An artist's rendition of the new Dreams Are Possible training center in Bloomington.

At the end of summer, Bloomington-Normal is expected to see a new nonprofit organization arrive in town.

Posed at a renovation site
Credit Mary Campbell
Volunteers from Home Depot and other organizations helped renovate the Dreams Are Possible training center Thursday in Bloomington.

With the help of the Home Depot Foundation, Illinois State University Professor of Social Work and Heartland Community College Board Member Mary Campbell is launching Dreams Are Possible. The organization aims to help women find sustainable employment by providing them with free materials to learn trade jobs.

“We're filling the gap that's partly cultural. Most women who didn't do well in school, even most women in general, are not familiar with the building trades. They didn't grow using tools, they didn't help their family member fix a car or build a house. Whereas men tend to be able to enter those fields easier because they'd had much more tool exposure. So our goal is to sort of bridge that cultural thing, and help women understand that there are jobs out there,” said Campbell on WGLT’s Sound Ideas.

Unions offer paid apprenticeships, but applicants must first past the apprenticeship test. Campbell said her organization will help women learn the material to do that.

Heartland Community College offers courses for learning building trades as well. The organization and Heartland are cooperating to strengthen the program.

Campbell said the increase of women in sustainable employment will strengthen Bloomington-Normal in numerous ways. 

“All the studies indicate that if you invest in women, those women invest in their children. If we invest in these women, they're going to invest in their kids and we are going to have better kids, more ready to learn at school, not worried about what life is like at home, not worried about whether they're going to be evicted. That's going to be a better situation for children,” said Campbell.

Campbell also said this will circulate more money in the Bloomington-Normal area economy, and allow mothers to be engaged with their children.

Many organizations are partnering with Dreams Are Possible to provide resources in both construction and education. Campbell listed the Home Depot Foundation, the bricklayers union, Dave’s Plumbing, the Illinois Prairie Community Foundation, and Youth Global Citizens.

Dreams Are Possible, founded by Campbell and Feli Sebastian, is currently accepting donations and volunteers. Volunteers helped Thursday with renovating the Dreams Are Possible training center at 1311 W. Olive St., Bloomington.

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Katie Seelinger is an intern in the GLT newsroom.
WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.