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VOL. 117 | NO. 173 | Friday, September 26, 2003

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Tearing down, building up walls

Pitts Tears Down Walls, Builds Community Ties


The Daily News

When she was younger, Shirley Pitts wasnt necessarily handy with a hammer or a paintbrush.

But, she had a knack for gardening.

My mom told me there was no better way to relieve stress and get a good tan at the same time than gardening, she said, grinning.

Recently, Pitts president of commercial and residential landscaping firm GreenScape Inc. was elected to serve as president of the Memphis chapter of the National Association of Women in Construction.

Axing stereotypes. Pitts said the organizations mission is to enhance the success of women in the construction profession.

Its effect, though, has been the dismantling of stereotypes that construction is a field solely for men.

There may be some men who arent aware of our organization, but most men especially those that are general contractors are definitely aware of it, Pitts said.

You really do have a variety of women whether it involves plumbing, sheet-rocking, painting, mechanical engineering or architecture.

In anything that involves putting up a building, theres a woman working.

The list of jobs for women in construction also includes accounting and bookkeeping, the areas that led Pitts to her current place of employment 23 years ago.

Providing resources. Since joining the NAWC after first reading about it in The Daily News, Pitts has served as chapter treasurer and secretary, and on the organizations board of directors.

She said the NAWC helps women in the field by offering educational events, networking opportunities and other industry-related tools.

Memphis is a big construction town, so we try to pool an occupation resource guide for any woman looking for a job, she said.

Pitts said the organization helps her, and other construction company managers, by providing ideas she can apply to GreenScape.

She particularly mentioned a national NAWC convention held recently in Salt Lake City that offered seminars on topics ranging from blueprint estimating to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) policy review.

A helping hand. The local chapter also emphasizes philanthropic work, she said.

Each year, proceeds generated from a golf tournament and poker run fund a college scholarship for an aspiring student (male or female) who wants to work in the construction industry.

And in the spring, the members sponsor a career day, called Block Kids, for a local elementary school.

Pitts said volunteers lead the students in mini-construction projects.

We try to get children interested and familiar early-on about the profession by giving them a hands-on project, she said.

Chapter goals. As chapter president, Pitts has two overall goals: to increase the chapters membership by nine members and to provide travel funds to send two members to next years national convention in New York City.

She said many members want to attend, but cant afford to make the trip.

Because of my personal success in this field, I want to help mentor others, she said. Its about giving back.


Name: Shirley Pitts

Position: President

Company: GreenScape Inc.

Founded: 1930

Basics: Pitts recently was elected president of the Memphis chapter of the National Association of Women in Construction.


PROPERTY SALES 56 289 2,908
MORTGAGES 55 226 2,009
BUILDING PERMITS 108 1,002 6,703
BANKRUPTCIES 42 248 1,225