By Karen Righthand, VP of Marketing
Recently I had the opportunity to lead two factory tours to groups from Richmond’s “Rosie’s Girls” Camp. Rosie’s Girls is a three week camp for girls entering 6th-8th grades that encourages participants to develop and strengthen their capacities and confidence and helps them expand their perception of the range of educational and career options that are attainable in an atmosphere that is fun, supportive and positive. Needless to say, I was honored when the camp officials requested that I lead the tours. They want the girls to experience work environments that are somewhat non-traditional for women and to meet women in leadership roles.
Of course, the name of the camp hails from Rosie the Riveter, the fictional World War II icon who represented the women who went to work in the shipyards and factories to fill the shortages left by the men fighting overseas. When the first tour arrived and the bus doors opened I was surprised to meet two actual Rosies, women that had worked right here in Richmond. Also accompanying them were rangers from the National Park Service who are a partner in the Richmond camp and a driving force behind creation of the Rosie the Riveter Home Front National Historical Park.
The permanent home of the Rosie the Riveter museum will be here at Ford Point where the Vetrazzo factory is. It is fitting that our historic building, once the manufacturing site for Ford cars and the assembly plant for tanks and Jeeps during the war, now houses a new type of manufacturing; manufacturing of green building materials. This is what the girls came to see. Instead of blue collar jobs we are creating green collar jobs and transforming millions of pounds of local waste glass into gorgeous and green countertops.
If you read my previous blog on the Vetrazzo Victory Garden you know this was a trend during the war. As we started our tour the ranger asked if our garden could be part of the Home Front Festival coming up October 3rd where Victory Gardens will be featured. I guess I better plant some Fall veggies! I think the older Rosies were the most surprised by our product and process. One told me, “I’m really glad the glass is being kept out of the landfill and put to good use.” “We saved everything back in those days but I guess we threw away bottles.” Everyone was surprised to learn that glass doesn’t decompose in a landfill.
My dad was a WWII veteran and my mom a nurse in the Army (where she met my dad) in the Korean War so it was special for me to have these Senior Rosies in our factory and show them what we do. They made a huge contribution to the war effort and to how women are perceived today. I felt proud and hopeful to share our green technology with these promising young women who are the Rosies of tomorrow. We must do everything we can to educate, empower and support our youth. They will be in charge some day.