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March 12, 2024

AmeriCorps Spotlight: Porchea Ray

By Kailey Truczinskas

Meet Porchea Ray, a Charlotte native who is proudly rooted in her hometown alongside her extensive family. Growing up immersed in the community, she’s familiar with the work of Habitat for Humanity of the Charlotte Region. Having witnessed the direct impact of gentrification and soaring housing costs in her rapidly evolving city, she brings firsthand insight into the challenges facing her fellow community members.

One reason she pursued an AmeriCorps position with Habitat Charlotte Region is her fervor for ensuring that women carve out their rightful place within the construction industry. It’s a mission she embraces wholeheartedly, feeling a sense of duty to provide insight into her experiences as a woman in the field. By showcasing her own presence and dedication, she hopes to inspire more women to pursue careers in construction.

Yet, despite her unwavering commitment, she often faces misconceptions. Many assume she’s confined to an office, perhaps engaging in hands-on work only sporadically. However, she is quick to dispel such notions, proudly asserting her position on-site, wielding a hammer through all weather conditions. With a knowing grin, she says, “No…this girl is in the mud!”

Her aspirations extend far beyond personal achievement. She envisions a future as a construction project manager while simultaneously advocating for change within the industry. Her vision encompasses both creating space for future generations of women and ensuring low-to-moderate income families can achieve the dream of homeownership.

Her advice resonates with wisdom earned through experience: “Don’t forget to account for the weight of the mud on your boots, both literally and figuratively.” She acknowledges the challenges inherent in her chosen path but remains determined, understanding that every trial builds character.

Beyond her professional pursuits, she is the visionary behind Break’n Ground, a 501c3 nonprofit organization deeply embedded in Charlotte. Their latest endeavor, WellBuilt Charlotte, aims to provide mental health resources and support to skilled laborers and trade workers in the construction industry. For her, it’s imperative that those who build America are “well-built” themselves – physically and mentally.

In a world where stereotypes may seek to confine her, she stands tall, breaking barriers and paving the way for others to follow. Her narrative is one of resilience, determination, and a commitment to effecting change – one nail at a time.

Left to right: Mel Ressler, Sr. Director New Construction of Habitat Charlotte Region, Porchea Ray AmeriCorps New Construction, Laura Belcher, President & CEO of Habitat Charlotte Region. Porchea was the featured impact speaker at She Built This City's 2024 Change Makers Luncheon.

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