Topics: Female Veterans, Repurposing Real Estate Intelligently, and How Far Women Have Come
On this episode of Solutions News, our first story is about repurposing real estate into space with a vision, but then we roll into a fascinating interview with Sandy Blair, CEO, and Founder of Operation WEBS, a nonprofit that works with women veterans experiencing homelessness. Housing is the foundation of a stable and secure community, so we talk about the trends all across the commercial real estate industry looking to repurpose empty space into effective and sustainable uses. Housing is intrinsically tied with the way that we use space in our cities and urban areas. The ballooning housing shortages in California mixed with a growing population and expanding climate-related losses, means we need new ways of managing the landscape, even if that means changing some of the ways buildings are traditionally used. Listen now to find out how!
March 8th celebrated International Women's Day. While there is a long way to go to reach the full equality that women rightfully deserve, women have undoubtedly proven themselves politically, academically, economically, and in endless other ways. Real change of course needs to come from our society and within each of us. It starts with how we teach our children and how we encourage girls to “pinky swear” they’ll do great things, as Senator Warren observed, “Because that is what girls do.”
Air Force veteran Sandy Blair founded the nonprofit Operation WEBS to help other women veterans. Operation WEBS — which stands for Women Empowered Build Strong.
Sandy served 12 years on active duty in the United States Air Force, then 4 years as a Peace Officer, and has now created another avenue to further serve her community. It was not that long ago when the devastating news of a medical discharge from the Air Force was eminent for her. The uncertainty and stresses of her career prematurely ending was difficult to say the least. Depression, worthlessness, failure, physical ailments, anger, despair, and suicidal thoughts plagued her daily after being discharged as she was told repeated by civilian employers that she was “overqualified” for many jobs, including the same jobs she held in the military.
One morning she left her best friend’s home where she and her 2 small children were residing at the time. Her decision was that life was not worth living! That her family will be better off without the burden of her added struggles. That day her father suffered a heart attack at work, and she was called to help her mother with his care. That event changed her life as she went to support her parents during that trying time, putting her emotions on hold once again. Leaving Florida to reside with her parents in Georgia, Sandy was uncertain of her future.
Almost a year had passed without any decision from the VA regarding benefits or pension determination, or gainful employment. Sandy then enrolled in college to study residential construction. One year later, DeKalb County Police Department offered her the opportunity to become a police officer. Due to Sandy’s prior military medical condition, her law enforcement career was short lived. Upon her son’s graduation from high school she moved to California in pursuit of a career in real estate. Sandy obtained her real estate license and uses a portion of her commissions from real estate sales to take massive action on actualizing her supersized dream of starting a nonprofit to help women veterans regain stability after military service. As the founder of Operation WEBS, Sandy is now providing sustainable housing solutions to those facing homelessness.
Sandy Blair, our guest on March 6, 2020