We’re so lucky at NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley to have a staff of hardworking, committed team-players who work tirelessly at our mission of building affordable housing and enriching community life.
In this series, you’ll get to know the people behind the work.
Tell us about yourself.
The first in his family to graduate from college, Paul Brais, dedicated ten years of his early career to teaching. After teaching, Brais entered into construction full-time, a career that has been in his family for generations.
What do you do at NWBRV?
Paul is currently the Construction Supervisor for NeighborWorks and works primarily on Fernwood, a USDA-funded program that helps families build their own homes at an affordable cost. Paul actually teaches participating families how to construct their own homes! For an entire year, Paul meets with seven to eight families every Saturday and Sunday and teaches them about construction. Additionally, he also assists NeighborWorks with their other construction projects.
How long have you been working with NWBRV, and how did you start working with the organization?
Paul has been working with NeighborWorks for almost five years! Before being on the team, he was the superintendent of Nation Wide Construction, a company NWBRV has worked closely with for many years. Over time, Brais got to know Joe Garlick, NWBRV’s Executive Director, and other members of the staff and became interested in the organization’s mission.
Once I saw what they did and a positioned opened, I was very interested because it’s the job of a lifetime!”
What is your proudest accomplishment during your time with NWBRV?
Paul’s proudest accomplishment is his role in building affordable housing for the Fernwood project.
We’re not just creating a house, we’re creating a neighborhood.”
Paul share’s that it is very rewarding to support people who, under their financial circumstances, would have never been able to afford to save up for a down payment – by allowing them to be able to build their own homes. Paul adds that the families don’t need any money to enter the program, just the will to participate in the project. By the time the Fernwood project is completed: thirty houses will be in the neighborhood!
Paul thinks that “throwing” people into a home and telling them they are on their own would be easy. But what the Fernwood project does is take a step further; it provides the families with their own, brand-new homes and includes them in the process. Because Paul works with multiple families at a time, these families get to know each other, build bonds, and create a community.
What inspires you to do this work?
The source of Paul’s inspiration to do this work is the impact it has on the families. He explains that there’s a lot that keeps this country apart, but the work he does for NWBRV shows him that there are good people out there.
It reassures my faith in humanity. It’s one major step in making everything better.”
Paul continues that NWBRV is a fantastic organization that, among other projects, is committed to providing safe, healthy, affordable housing for people to live in. He feels fortunate that he can be in a position to help people. Paul mentioned that sometimes he’ll drive through the neighborhood and everyone will greet each other. Currently, there are fifteen families in Fernwood, and a project for 7-8 families is starting soon!
What a gift it is to have such a dedicated construction supervisor on the NWBRV team. Check back for insights into other NWBRV staff and board members.
Interested in the Fernwood Program? We are currently accepting applicants for Phase IV.