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Home Depot class gives women plumbing skills (w/video)

By Jessica Priest
March 12, 2014 at 10 p.m.
Updated March 11, 2014 at 10:12 p.m.

Home Depot team captain Donna Smith, of Victoria, center right, demonstrates how a Fluid Master Fill Valve works for workshop attendant Rozi Ayres, of Victoria, center, during a free plumbing workshop at Northside Baptist Church in Victoria.

Les Mages peered inside a toilet bowl Wednesday at Northside Baptist Church.

Mages, the operations assistant manager at Home Depot, wasn't hired to unclog it.

He was there to give some women a free crash course on plumbing.

It's one of several home maintenance courses Home Depot has planned throughout the year at the church.

"I haven't had this view since I was in college," Mages said, chuckling while showing how about 1.5 gallons of water flushes through the device. "One thing is, don't be afraid of it. The worst thing you can do is break it."

A little more than 30 women erupted into laughter; some taking diligent notes on everything from how to install a faucet to how to flush out one's hot water heater every six months to a year.

Mary Zinn, 86, sat with her friend, Marjorie Jeane, 82. Both married women said the information was useful.

Jeane's husband, Percy, 82, is a retired electrical engineer.

"He's just a jack-of-all-trades," she said. "I really like that he's the leader at home. ... I may never use this, but I'll be ready, just in case."

Zinn has had a few plumbing woes throughout her life, which her husband, John, 92, while handy, doesn't like to tackle by himself. Most recently, her sink overflowed, but thankfully, a trash can was nearby to catch the water, she said.

"I don't ever want to stop learning. When I quit learning, it's time for me to go home, which is heaven," Zinn said.

Anita R. Jackson, 68, pitched the idea for the class to Home Depot and was hired by the company afterward.

"He (the manager of Home Depot) answered, 'yes' before I even got the question out," she said, smiling.

Jackson is widowed and remembers feeling out of control when she couldn't figure out why her toilet was running and had to rely on a plumber's advice.

"He charged me more than $100, and I wasn't sure if it was a fair price, but I had no choice but to pay it," she said. "It's just really exciting to see women learning things and doing things for themselves."

Jackson is a member of one of Northside Baptist Church's ministries, Women of Grace.

The workshops are one of the group's many projects. Women of Grace was formed in 2011 by the church's pastor and church member Nelda Smith.

Smith's husband passed away in 2010, and she learned more than 100 other women at her church were also widows.

They first started eating together at Denny's and now have a variety of social gatherings, Smith said.

Mages, meanwhile, was a plumber for 12 years before coming to Home Depot.

"Home Depot is very good about giving back to the community. We all live and work here, too," he said.

On Wednesday, Home Depot gave each attendee a screwdriver to add to an orange toolbox they received last month.

In April, attendees will learn the ins and outs of gardening.



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