Women work

When setting out to tackle a topic like women’s work, the range is huge and the field is wide open. Let’s face it: women work. We work in our jobs; we work in our homes, yards, and gardens; we raise children and take care of our families; we sit on boards and volunteer…we work a lot. So the challenge for our MWM team was to drill down and focus on just a few types of work that women in our community are doing.

Meet a couple of tradeswomen on page 30. Jennifer Somma, a mechanic-turned-carpenter who works as a field supervisor for Hardypond Construction, loves her work and that she is always learning new things. MJ Reed, a longtime electrician and the owner of MJR Electric, never expected to have a career in the trades. Reed learned from her dad initially, but then decided to seriously pursue the field while she was volunteering for Habitat for Humanity. She is driven by being self-employed and enjoys the ever-changing nature of her work.

Sara Ewing-Merrill is a pastor, a mom, a community builder and an activist who is always juggling. She is now a co-pastor with her husband at HopeGateWay, a diverse United Methodist congregation in Portland. While juggling this with her family life, last January Ewing-Merrill leaned on her interfaith connections to establish Greater Portland Family Promise, which provides housing, meals, case management and community for families with children experiencing homelessness. Read more on page 39.

Just over 10 percent of the sworn officers with the Portland Police Department are women, and we are featuring three of them in this issue. Detective Kelly Gorham, a sex crimes detective who handles most of downtown Portland, prefers the intricacies of long-term investigations rather than the crisis management and initial investigation of patrol calls for service. K9 Officer Michelle Cole works with her explosive detection dog Barni, who also goes home with her every night. Part of her work is being sure that Barni stays in great shape to do his job—her life depends on it. Officer Kate Phelan was an early childhood educator before she joined the Portland police force. Phelan is a patrol officer in the Deering neighborhood of Portland, where she encounters everything from routine traffic stops to domestic disputes, robberies and more. Read their stories on page 16.

I have worked since I was 12 years old. I’ve done menial jobs and important ones, boring and exciting, stressful and laid back. But I believe that most important work I’ve ever done was to raise my children. Though not only “women’s work,” I was mostly a single parent and I raised my kids thoughtfully, always putting their needs first and helping them all along the way to become independent adults—and today, they are. Hooray! That’s the best performance review I could ever have. If you can relate to this, I think you will love this month’s Momsense column by Maggie Knowles, on page 46. Knowles writes about Jennifer Smith, a stay-at-home mom of eight children, who also home schools her kids.

Thank you for reading Maine Women Magazine. Watch for our home issue, which will be on the stands in late October. Also, be sure to check out our Fall Expo, taking place on Nov. 10 at the Maine Mall in South Portland in the space formerly occupied by BonTon. All ticket proceeds go to benefit the Portland Boys & Girls Club. For more information: mainewomenexpo.com.

Lee Hews

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