Women Who Inspire Us

After Women Build 2017, NOAHH asked the women (and one man!) who made the build possible to tell us about some of the women who inspired them in their lives. Below are their answers:

Monica Grandpre, Women Build Homeowner:
“I get inspired by different women on different days. Hearing women’s stories, some things they’ve overcome throughout their life. Even talking to women throughout the build. I get inspired by different circumstances a lot of women overcome.”

Alyson Harding, Women Build Site Supervisor:
“I’m proud to come from an incredible line of inspirational women. My aunt Joyce passed away the day before Women Build started. She was a good one. Mum, my Mom’s mom, went to college in the 1940s, then raised 7 children, 5 girls and 2 boys. She endured the loss of her husband when they were young, then lost both of her sons, but somehow still kept her faith and positive outlook on the world. She was passionate and opinionated, but also thoughtful and somehow gentle and very supportive. My mom was the youngest of 7 kids, so she grew up strong. After college she attended graduate school and started working, where she met my father. They moved on her job, but when she had my older sisters she stopped working. She took 20 years off of her career to raise us, which I know was a difficult decision. When I was in high school she went back to work and has had an incredible career since. I can’t imagine everything she sacrificed while raising us and what her career could be if she hadn’t taken decades off, but I owe a great debt to her for being a stay at home mom while I was growing up.”

Jane Scott Hodges, Team Leader, Designing Women:
“There have been many women throughout my career that have inspired me. But fundamentally my mother instilled in me the notion of giving back. When I was a young girl in the 70’s my mother served civically in our small town and helped impoverished neighborhoods improve themselves. She was on the city council and truly worked for the ‘citizens with no voice.’ Watching her serve and help other people improve their lives was impactful for me.”

Katie Crosby, Fidelity Bank:
“There have been a number of women that have inspired me over the years. The one that comes to mind today is a dear friend that was recently diagnosed with cancer. She underwent chemotherapy with an amazingly positive attitude and kept up her busy schedule. She did not let that adversity impact her outlook or her attitude and was an inspiration to all who know her.”

Liz Broekman, Team Leader, Fidelity Bank:
“My mom has definitely been my inspiration. She was a single mom and although she did not work outside of the home, she worked very hard inside of the home to make sure that everything was taken care of and done promptly and effectively. She is very strong and I owe my strength to her.”

Rebecca Maisel, the Brick Freedias:
“My grandmother has always been my hero and biggest inspiration. She decided to start her business in the early 70’s, after years of teaching middle school English. Back then, she was oftentimes the only woman around–most of her employees, clients, and associates were male. Oftentimes, even after the business became a great success and continued to grow, people assumed she was just a secretary or assistant. She persevered, ultimately growing the business into a large family business that I am proud to work for today as a third generation owner.”

Allison Durant, Team Leader, Motherless Daughters:
“A woman who has inspired me is Judy Herron Pratt. She died in 2015. She is the mother of one of my best friends from high school. Her husband left her with three young daughters and rather than wallow, she demonstrated strength and perseverance to guide, discipline and instill morals and values in her children. My mother was sick throughout high school and Judy took me in like one of her own. I always felt welcome. She was also a person who wasn’t afraid to be herself. She was zany and colorful in both her dress and personality. She truly liked people and if she didn’t like you, there was a reason and it wasn’t out of jealousy or pride, there was a very good reason. Her youngest daughter was killed in a car accident coming home from college, and Judy, again, did not crumble. She gave up alcohol and later told me, ‘I knew I couldn’t thoroughly grieve if I did not quit drinking.’ Judy did not allow events to define her, they just were. Her ability to incorporate tragedy as well as good fortune into the folds of her life was amazing and inspiring. Judy was just Judy, no fluff, no act, no pretending and I adored her.”

Angelica Rivera, Team Leader, Colmex Women Empowerment:
“They are a lot a women out there that play an important role in my life, but if I have to choose one, it will be my mom. She went through so much when she was little, but still she is the best motivational person I know. Every time I feel down, she is the first person I call for advice.”

Judy Perry Martinez, Team Leader, Hammer on Krewe:
“My daughter. Carson is 23 years old, finishing up a Master’s degree in Bioethics at Duke, having graduated from NYU in neuroscience, and completing her practicum at Intel in their AI group. She is as kind and generous as she is energetic and since her early days has done more than her share to give back. While at Dominican she tutored at a nearby after school program several days each week, raised money through the school book club to plant a tree on campus, and gave rides to students in her New Orleans Ballet Association class when they had no other transportation. At NYU she volunteered for a meals program and when Hurricane Sandy hit NYC she gathered a dozen students, some she only knew casually, and offered them housing for several nights at a downtown hotel. She spent two months volunteering in a hospital in southern India one summer where she not only shadowed a neurologist but put on a dance performance for a children’s oncology ward. She volunteered for Habitat during its 10 year anniversary for Katrina. But the thing that inspires me the most is her devotion and love of family. No day is ever too busy to interfere with her efforts to connect with a family member, whether it be a brother, her parents, her grandmother or others. Carson will continue to do good in this world for decades to come and she inspires me because she realized her obligation to help others at such a young age.”

Kelly Theard, Team Leader, Chicks With Bricks:
“My mom–she is one of the most amazing individuals I have ever met. She is completely selfless and has spent her life taking care of everyone around her. She is never afraid of hard work and has taught me to never quit. She is my hero.”

Cassie Worley, Team Leader, grEIGHTIES, NOAHH Board Secretary:
“My late mother Nancy Steck loved New Orleans, and she had courage and energy. Now that I think about it I’d put Jackie Clarkson in that category as well.”

Courtney Davis-Herbert, Lipstick and Lumber:
“My mother! She is an amazing role model, who somehow found the time to help raise 4 girls, and help run a successful business. Taking us to all of the many practices, for the many different sports we played, and dancing classes among other extra-curricular activities. I still don’t know how she did it all!”

Amy Reimer, Fancy Nailers:
“My mom for sure and Nikki Moon, who was the Vice President of Convention Sales at the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau when I was there in sales from 1988-1998.”

Malin Maitrejean, Lipstick and Lumber:
“My mom, she was out there with us [at Women Build]…at 77 years young she hung in there from morning to evening, painting, installing wood treads on the steps, and laying sod. My mom is an amazing woman and always positive. I love being around her.”

Luke Dantin, GE Women’s Network:
“My mother is one of my biggest role models. She is very strong willed and has never been afraid to challenge something or someone she felt was wrong. I owe my strong moral compass and willingness to (attempt to) do the right thing to her.”

Coleena Zimet, Fidelity Bank:
“Choosing just one is tough. I have so many women that inspire me daily. My sister who has had many traumas in her life has overcome addiction after a 10 hiatus, completed drug court, completed another degree, works 3 jobs, single mom of 2 challenging teenage boys, is a homeowner now, and speaks at other drug court graduations.”

Mary Toney, AmeriCorps Construction Crew Leader:
“My mother’s strength and optimism through all trials and tribulations in her life inspired me to become the strong and positive women I am today.”

Jenna Turnage, former NOAHH Assistant Director of Advancement:
“I feel fortunate to have a number of strong women in my family. Lots of examples of fearless warriors. My grandmother, Juanelle, is one that sticks out in my mind. She’s in her early 80’s and throughout her life has experienced loss in many forms but has always chosen to look forward in a positive way. She’s the mother of six boys, is an incredible baker and seamstress and is the most well-read person I have ever met. She still reads multiple books per week to this day. She’s had to figure things out and create her own path in response to lots of unexpected challenges that have come her way.”

Karen Arthur, Women Build Volunteer:
“Working with my daughter, Amy, on this project made it even more special for me. I beamed with pride as I watched and worked alongside her! She has grown into a smart, strong and caring young woman who is doing her part to help improve the lives of her neighbors. I hope to do it with her again next year. [Another] woman who has inspired me and continues to be an inspiration to me is my mother. She has endured many hardships and obstacles in her life, but has never allowed anything to keep her down. She always gets right back up and continues to fight through the situation and live her life, no matter what!”

Christina Cerutti, AmeriCorps Construction Crew Leader:
“A woman in my life who inspires me is my mom. She’s not only my biggest supporter but she’s my biggest inspiration. She’s a teacher for the visually impaired and an amazing mom to my sister and me, always making sure we’re okay and happy. She’s so incredibly kind, compassionate, and overall a superhero. I would be lost without her guidance.”

Andrea Meier, NOAHH Homeowner:
“I would say that my mom has inspired me the most because she’s been through a lot and with persistence and determination always comes out on top. She raised me as a single parent and whether she was attending college courses to improve our lot or spending every extra moment helping me with schoolwork, she was always present and strong. To this day her kindness and patient nature inspire me to be a better person and mother. She is also the best grandma ever!”

Amanda Smith, former ABWK Project Manager:
“Currently, my grandmother is my biggest inspiration. She is fighting stage 4 colon cancer like an absolute boss and never complains or shows defeat. Although she is tired, she is dedicated to her family and friends and makes the effort to call and check in to make sure other people are okay. She is one of the most selfless people that I have ever met and one of the happiest and most lovable people as well. I am very excited to be by her side to support her during the last month of treatment, just as she has supported me all of my life.”