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Homes

Class gives women a grip on power -- tools, that is

Ladies Night at Home Depot may serve up chocolate tortes, but the class assignment could be repairing a toilet.

By ELIZABETH BETTENDORF
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 24, 2003


TAMPA -- Ladies Night at a Tampa Home Depot doesn't mean 50-cent beers and a bunch of guys with tool belts trying out pickup lines.

Instead, it means sweet tea, homemade chocolate tortes and sales associate Kimberly Pasierb, teaching you how to replace a faucet.

Or install a ceiling fan.

Or patch drywall.

The weekly classes in the store at Dale Mabry Highway and Interstate 275 are aimed at teaching women to take on home improvement tasks. Pasierb, a single mother of two young boys, dreamed up the idea after watching a handyman install a ceiling fan in her home. "After shelling out $50, I thought, I can do that," Pasierb recalled.

Last summer, she organized the first of her free Ladies Night classes, which have since become a hit with women of all ages. The classes, now held Tuesday nights from 7 to 8:30 p.m., have attracted as many as 20 students in one evening. Of course, the sessions attract men, too, but the teaching methods are tailored to women.

"They learn by doing," said Pasierb, who leads the class with fellow employee, William "Redd" Barnes.

Other area Home Depot stores -- including ones in Brandon and Carrollwood -- offer how-to classes, but they aren't geared toward women. The Brandon location, 9941 E Adamo Drive, posts times and dates of classes in front of the store. The Home Depot in Carrollwood, 16121 N Dale Mabry Highway, offers general home improvement classes during the week on weekends.

In many cases, students watch as an employee does the work, Pasierb said.

Not true at Ladies Night. Be prepared to sweat. So far, students have explored everything from toilet repair to faux finishing. They've learned how to install crown molding, put up track lighting and handle power tools like pros.

Socializing comes with every lesson. The 5-foot-5, red-headed Pasierb, who describes herself as "more Marilyn Monroe than Jennifer Aniston" ("Did you know that Marilyn was a size 12?" she asks) makes sure students eat as they fix a faucet.

In addition to her duties as a single mom and her job in the store's millwork department, Pasierb is a serious baker.

"Food is a universal comfort," she said. "This way, the women are able to talk and get to know each other."

Her students have included doctors, teachers and other professionals as well as single women who want to avoid costly repair bills "or maybe just get their apartment security deposit back," she said.

She knows firsthand the cost of maintenance repairs.

"And even if you can afford it, you're letting a stranger into your home," she said. "How do you know somebody is really honorable, that they're going to do good work and not rob you blind?"

-- For more information on Ladies Night call the Home Depot at (813) 879-1000. For a complete schedule of upcoming classes, e-mail Pasierb at kknoffer116@aol.com. For information about classes at the Brandon store, call 664-0042. For the Carrollwood location, call 960-0051.

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