By Javacia Harris Bowser
For The Birmingham Periods
For years, Shellie Layne has been helping gals take care of their properties and their life by the Women of all ages Beneath Development Network (WUCN), a Birmingham-centered nonprofit that empowers ladies to just take on dwelling-improvement projects with assurance and acquire cost of their life.
Even all through the COVID-19 pandemic, Layne saved up the good work with digital seminars and conference calls. Yet, the gals she labored with and her group have been weighed down by the toll of the pandemic, racism and social unrest, and economical hardships.
Layne felt something much more necessary to be accomplished, so all over the month of June the WUCN is internet hosting Creating Hope: 21 Times of Kindness, a collection of 1,021 random and prepared functions of compassion carried out by 121 volunteers. The start celebration will be held on May 28 at the Oxmoor Valley Group Centre (1992 Wenonah Oxmoor Street, Birmingham AL 35211).
“Our motivation is that immediately after these 21 days people will be so stuffed with kindness and they’ll see so numerous form things getting finished about the town that they will have to fork out it forward,” Layne stated.
Some of the functions of kindness proposed involve supplying backpacks of cleanliness products and other requirements to ladies suffering from homelessness, as very well as exhibiting up at regional McDonald’s restaurants to give gift cards to women in the travel-via lines. Layne and her team are also partnering with 98.7 KISS FM to highlight individuals who are “caught being form.”
The WUCN has partnered with HART Resources, as properly, to give away no cost tool kits throughout the marketing campaign.
“The WUCN has a mission to teach, inspire, and empower girls, and below at HART Tools, we likewise aspire to supply the instruments and methods to construct assurance in all persons to do jobs themselves, making lifetime a lot easier,” firm spokesperson Susanjean Flaherty stated. “When you glance at all the life the WUCN has served, partnering up with them was an simple final decision.”
Even although Layne is a indigenous of Boston, Massachusetts, she considers herself a “Southern lady.”
“The Northeast is typically known as currently being chilly, not just in temperature but also in the temperament and the temperament of these who live in the [region],” Layne mentioned. “I really do not imagine I fit in that. I see myself as remaining heat and not shut.”
Although Layne playfully states she’s “allergic to shoveling snow,” it is Southern hospitality that can make her content to contact Birmingham home.
“I like the Southern mentality to treatment about your neighbors,” Layne mentioned. “You discuss to persons in the grocery shop, and you treatment about your grocery keep clerk.”
Maybe it is this Southern sensibility that moves Layne to inspire other people with tasks like Developing Hope: 21 Days of Kindness and all the other do the job she’s performed and proceeds to do via WUCN.
Layne was helping men and women establish hope extensive right before she released the WUCN. For 12 many years, she worked for the Youthful Men’s Christian Affiliation (YMCA, much more generally named the Y) in Boston, in Baltimore, Maryland, and in Birmingham. During her time in Baltimore, she worked in local community development and transitional housing for women of all ages.
Soon after leaving her govt director place at the Y, Layne pursued a vocation in serious estate and quickly realized that she preferred to do extra than offer houses—she wished to learn how to take care of them, way too. With the assist of contractors, she tried out her hand at residence flipping (obtaining a dwelling, creating repairs, and then selling the residence) and beloved it. She would go on to make millions of bucks offering genuine estate.
Alongside the way, Layne begun composing a column for The Birmingham Periods, “At Household with Shellie,” which included a wide array of residence-relevant matters the collection ran in the newspaper from 2004 to 2008.
In 2008, Layne’s life took an unpredicted change. She went by means of individual bankruptcy, foreclosures, and a divorce. She went from earning 6 figures to making minimum amount wage and observed herself a one mother to her son, Noah, who was 7 at the time.
“My entire world was crashing down, but I appeared at my problem and said, ‘You can wallow in this if you decide on to, but your wallowing is not going to aid anybody else,’” recalled Layne.
She then determined to share her problems and what she was doing to triumph over them in her column—and she obtained an overwhelmingly beneficial response. Noticing the parallels in between household restore and the demolition and rebuilding of her lifetime sparked the concept for the WUCN.
“I recognized this is not just about serious estate,” Layne mentioned. “This is about people’s lives.”
Empowered Ladies Empower Women
The WUCN’s workshops, seminars, and socials constantly have the twin goal of instructing women both dwelling-mend and existence-repair abilities since Layne thinks that as a lady learns how to fix her residence, she gains the courage and self-confidence to resolve her existence, also.
“As I received a opportunity to get to know those people resources and turn into familiar with how they worked, it empowered me,” she mentioned. “If you can fix a toilet flapper, you can be a CEO.”
Hattie Smith of Bessemer joined the WUCN in 2010 since she beloved the Power Tools Socials that Layne hosted pre-pandemic. The occasions, which ended up generally attended by a lot more than 200 gals, were established up like a building area to instruct girls how to use dwelling-restore tools, but they also highlighted songs, food stuff, and enjoyment. For Smith, the connection and discussion with other women were the most significant features of the gatherings. Hearing other women’s tales motivated her.
“There are people today who have been there, finished that, and are on the other aspect,” Smith stated. “The sharing of their activities has assisted me defeat quite a few obstructions.”
Nowadays, Smith is aspect of the network’s leadership workforce and is now applying her story to empower other women of all ages.
“[Layne’s] continual encouragement, teaching, and expressions of self-confidence in me have assisted me to know that I am adding value to the life of other people,” she said.
The community gave Carly Harris of Midfield a assurance enhance, also.
“The girls in this corporation pour so much lifestyle and appreciate into you that you just can’t help but develop into the very best version of you,” she explained.
The 21-12 months-outdated Miles Higher education pupil is the youngest member of the community. She joined in 2020 right after staying launched to Layne by 1 of her professors. Considering that then, she has stopped second guessing herself and will take the lessons acquired from the network and shares them with younger girls.
“I now walk with my head superior, and I’m the most supplying I have ever been,” Harris explained.
Nikita Craig of West Finish started off attending WUCN events in 2014 or 2015 and was invited to be part of the network’s preparing group in 2020. She credits the group with training her how to set and obtain goals associated to getting rid of excess weight, conserving funds, and acquiring a spiritual exercise. The network has also offered her a stronger sense of reason.
“[Layne] and the WUCN have pushed me out of my consolation zone, and with that press I am expanding into the lady I generally understood was there,” Craig said. “I have uncovered that I was constantly a strong able woman with a strong foundation and my testimony will enable empower other gals.”
Holding Hope Alive
Thanks to digital events, the WUCN is presently touching life in 62 cities and 13 states—but Layne would like to do extra.
She hopes to commence web hosting Electric power Instrument Socials again in September, and she also has options to publish a book and do more speaking engagements. At the moment, the community is fueled by function of volunteers, but Layne hopes to soon be capable to use employees to support grow the nonprofit.
“Our aim is to be the amount-a person firm for gals in the Southeast and in the nation,” she explained.
To find out more about the Females Below Construction Network and the Setting up Hope: 21 Days of Kindness campaign, pay a visit to www.wucnetwork.org.