Soviet Immigrant Thrives In Home Performance




soviet immigrant thrives“I’m really little…that’s why they hired me.”

Spend a few minutes talking to Weatherization Specialist Nadia and you’ll know the reason Neil Kelly hired her isn’t just her ability to fit into tight spaces.  “I’m a former gymnast, so they know that I can maneuver anywhere I need to go,” says Nadia.  That may be true, but Nadia’s value to the Neil Kelly Home Performance teams stems directly from her attitude.

“When you love what you do it’s not a job, and I absolutely love everything about what I
do,” says Nadia. “I really feel like my position (as weatherization technician) is exciting.  I get to see so many interesting houses.”

Nadia’s path to crawling around Portland homes started far away from the Rose City.  Shortly after moving to the U.S from the former Soviet Union, her mother had a stroke.
Since neither of Nadia’s parents spoke English, she felt a responsibility to take care of them. “I couldn’t just leave them to find work,” she says, “then my Mom passed away and it took me a long time grieving her before I could look for a job to support myself and my family.”  Nadia learned the handyman trade from her father.  And with her brothers going off to school, Nadia would stay behind and help her father on the family farm.  She learned how to work with tools and work in any kind of weather.  “Now when I go to work and it is threatening to snow my children will say—‘we’re sorry you have to work in the cold, Mommy. ‘ And I say ‘don’t worry about me; I love what I do no matter what the weather is.’  If you’re going to be good at your job you have to do it when it’s freezing or when it is 100 degrees.”

Nadia owes her career to Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc. It is a non-profit organization based on the principles that women deserve and can attain economic self-sufficiency through pursuing careers in the building, mechanical, electrical, and utility trades. “They told me they know of four employers who would hire me if I learned about insulation”, says Nadia. “So I learned.”

One of those potential employers was Neil Kelly.  “Nadia is a very dedicated worker,” says her supervisor, Lisa Pickert.  “She is very enthusiastic about the work that she does; she’s very flexible and just rolls with things.”

Besides her positive work ethic, it doesn’t hurt that the former gymnast packs a lot of
power in a small package.  Pickert says “She is small and she is very strong.
She is able to work in many places where others can’t.”  And as far as her future goes, Nadia plans to use what she’s learned in those tight attics and crawl spaces in her future.
“Like the bosses I have now, I want to be a boss who knows exactly what it
feels like to work in the field.”

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