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New LI ladies night out teaches women to fix a toilet, spackle a wall

Participants earn bracelet charms for each skill they tackle.

The Women’s Workshops is a series of home repair classes geared for women, teaching them skills for tasks that traditionally might be done by a man. Toilet repair class was held on Oct. 19, 2018 in Bethpage. (Credit: Newsday / Beth Whitehouse)

This was not a typical girls' night out: Sure, it was Friday and there was mingling, there were wraps, and — of course — there was wine. But Stacy Berkowitz, 51, of Smithtown had her hand stuck inside a toilet tank. Fortunately, it was empty.

At “The Women’s Workshops,” the night out involves hands-on learning of what organizer Barbara Pesce calls a “honey-do” task — something women traditionally might have relied on a boyfriend, husband or handyman to do.

On a recent evening at the Bethpage Police Athletic League, women were learning to repair a running toilet, including how to purchase, remove and replace the fill valve and flapper. “This is how I fix the toilet,” joked Berkowitz, who is single and owns a gift basket business. She pulled her cellphone out of her pocket. “Make a call.”

“Not anymore, Stacy,” Pesce retorted.

FIX IT YOURSELF

Pesce, 50, a divorced bookkeeper, launched The Women’s Workshops after she bought her own fixer-upper home in Levittown about two years ago. She started a Facebook page to describe the minor repairs she was tackling herself, and there was so much feedback from women friends who wanted to learn basic skills that she thought she could start a business. At the first bimonthly workshop in August, women learned how to spackle a hole in a wall. On Dec. 6, the topic will tentatively deal with a to-be-determined automotive skill.

Pesce charges $75 per three-hour workshop, and she hires a professional to teach it. The fee includes the refreshments and each woman receives her own relevant tools to bring home — at the toilet workshop, it was slip joint pliers and a screwdriver.

HANDS-ON LEARNING

After the women schmoozed and dined for about an hour, the heart of the workshop began.

“Today we’re going to be talking about toilet bowls,” said Joseph Henry, a plumbing technician from the Seaford-based Universe Home Services, who handed each woman an “Anatomy of a Toilet” diagram to keep. “Why spend $200 for something you can get at the hardware store for 15 bucks and do yourself?”

Henry led the women through a hands-on demonstration; each taking a turn on the sample toilet tanks he brought with him.

When Danielle Masseus, 48, of Jamaica, Queens, screwed a nut on upside-down, Henry gently corrected her. Masseus, a self-employed administrator, said she signed up for the workshop after she saw it advertised on a Facebook page. “It was really different, so I wanted to try it,” she said. Having done paint-and-sip girls night out, she was ready for an educational version. 

“It was very informative. I learned a lot, and I’m ready to practice when I get home,” Masseus said later.

At the first Women's Workshop a woman attends, she receives a charm bracelet, and at the completion of each workshop she receives a relevant charm. This time, it was a miniature wrench. “We’re doing manly things, but we have to have jewelry,” joked Pesce.

“It reminds me of the Girl Scout badges, but the grown-up version of it,” Berkowitz said of earning her second charm (she also attended the spackling workshop in August). “I think it’s great.”

The Women's Workshop

WHEN|WHERE Next session is 6:30-9 p.m. Dec. 6

INFO facebook.com/TheWomensWorkshops or email barbara@thewomensworkshops.com

COST $75 (includes food and drinks, tool and charm bracelet)

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