LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Evelyn Pacheco was a pioneer in the field of Nevada's skilled trades.
She was the first African American woman in state history to get a plumbers license, which even surprised her when she became a union member.
"I didn't even know I was the only one when I journeyed out in 2007," Pacheco said.
She says she came by the distinction almost by chance.
Pacheco said she was working maintenance at a Las Vegas hotel when someone suggested she give plumbing and pipe-fitting a try, and then she fell in love with the career.
"I like the mechanical part of it," she said, "I love the art of it. I like that you can build something that's still there, and people are staying in hotels that I worked on on the strip."
It wasn't easy to achieve that dream, however.
Pacheco said she endured 5 years of night classes while working full-time and raising 3 kids as a single mother.
"It wasn't just for me," she said, "it was for my kids so they could have things and go places and experience things."
Pacheco has started a nonprofit organization to pass her experience and skills along to other women to fill desperately needed gaps in the skilled trades.
She opened the offices for Nevada Women in Trades, or NWIT, on June 1.
NWIT should serve as a pipeline exclusively for women to any construction related field they would like to enter.
Pacheco's mother, Dorothy Anderson, said her daughter sharing her experience could be vital for boosting female enrollment in skilled fields.
"Being the only black female in the state of Nevada to become what she became, she wants to see other young ladies do that," Anderson said, "I'm so proud of her that she's making that effort."
Nevada Women in Trades, Pacheco said, would take ten hand-picked applicants through a six week program in mathematics, OSHA requirements, fork-lift training, and more to prepare them to land a good paying job.
"They will get an interview, and they will be successful because Nevada Women in Trades is training them," Pacheco siad.
NWIT's offices are located at 1820 E. Sahara Avenue, Suite 215.
Pacheco said they are searching for sponsors, volunteers, and community partners to improve the program.
More information can be found at http://nevadawit.org/