From Habitat Honduras to SPBC: A Woman In Construction
Q&A with Habitat for Humanity of South Palm Beach County staff member Maria Flores, Senior Construction Superintendent.
What does Habitat for Humanity SPBC mean to you; why do you love it?
Habitat means a lot to me because like many of the future homeownership applicants, I grew up in a low-income household where everything was very limited. This made me realize how important it is to have a safe place to live in which to spend time with the ones you love. At the end of the day, that’s what matters the most in life.
I also love being part of the Habitat organization because I get to work alongside of families in their journey to homeownership. Knowing that I can help make a change in the lives of these future homeowners, means so much to me.
What are your job title and responsibilities?
I am the Senior Construction Superintendent at Habitat and my job is to oversee all on-site construction operations. This includes:
- Managing all volunteers and staff at the job site
- Ensuring that all tasks are being performed properly and up to Building codes
- Ordering materials that are needed for the construction projects we are working on
- Communicating with building inspectors, vendors,
- And subcontractors And most importantly, making certain that everyone has a safe, enjoyable, and unique experience with us.
How long have you been working for Habitat?
I have been working at Habitat since January 2016. During college, after I had completed all my required coursework, it was time for me to apply for an internship with a construction company. I decided to join Habitat. I completed more than 500 on-site construction hours as a full-time intern while working simultaneously on my final thesis about Habitat. Afterward, I returned home (Honduras) and presented my thesis work in front of a board of engineers prior to my graduation from college. I then returned to the USA and received a job offer from Habitat. I have been a happy full-time employee here ever since.
How long did you volunteer before employment?
I volunteered with Habitat for a full year (2015). I also volunteered with Habitat for Humanity Honduras between 2013 and 2014.
Why did you volunteer, and what made you choose Habitat?
I always wanted to help others as much as I could. While in college, a professor invited the class to go volunteer at a project with Habitat for Humanity Honduras. I instantly fell in love with the mission. It was so beautiful to see how grateful and motivated the families were, even though they didn’t have much. They always had a great attitude and the willingness to work hard with smiles on their faces, because they knew that Habitat Honduras was the beginning of a better life, not only for them but for their future generations to come.
What is your favorite memory of volunteering and working with Habitat?
My favorite memory of volunteering with Habitat is working along with Helen Bass, a long-time construction volunteer. I was so scared of using a nail gun on my first day and she not only taught me how to use it properly but made it a fun experience. I have also learned so much from amazing staff and crew leaders over the years and I’m very thankful and happy to be part of this team.
What does it mean to you and how does it feel to be a leading woman in construction?
Usually, when you think of a construction site you picture a group of men wearing hard hats and tool belts. But in today’s world, the construction field has become more evenly divided between men and women. Being a woman in construction means so much to me because it challenges me to be better every day, to go above and beyond, and to prove that as a woman, we can in fact do anything we put our minds and efforts to.
It is a never-ending learning experience and I love every part of the process.