FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 4, 2004
Contact: Svetlana Ganea
Basic Home Repair: Women can do it too
COLUMBUS, Miss. – Women, the next time your washer stops or you have a
leaky faucet, forget complaining to your husband or phoning a repairman.
Chances are you can repair it yourself, according to Debbie Lawrence,
supervisor of custodial services at Mississippi University for Women.
“Over the years men have gotten women to think that it’s a man’s job to
fix things and only they are capable of doing so,” according to
Lawrence, who said this is not always the case.
It all started when Lawrence, in her first years of marriage, would
spend a great deal of time observing her husband work on cars, repair
home appliances, fix the plumbing, as well as other tasks around the
“My husband would always tell me ‘Debbie, anytime you can learn
something, do it.’” So, the next time there was a leaky faucet, Lawrence
decided to handle it herself.
Little by little, Lawrence became a pro at repairing dishwashers, laying
tiles, replacing broken switches and more. Her work shifted from the
inside of the house to the appliances of neighbors, relatives and
Her help was free and from the heart.
“It’s not rocket science,” she said. This is the same principle Lawrence
teaches in Basic Home Repair, which is being offered through the Office
of Continuing Education at MUW.
“Women are just intimidated by the view of an appliance. Once you take
the cover off and see how the mechanism works, it’s clear.”
Before each class, Lawrence comes up with a plan, what problems would be
common and what women could do. Among some of the things Lawrence
teaches her students basic plumbing skills (unclogging sinks, toilets,
and tubs), fix leaky faucets, replace a broken windowpane, fix a sliding
glass door, replace broken ceramic tiles and replace a bad outlet or
“Debbie is knowledgeable, creative and encouraging,” said Robin Yekaitis,
testing coordinator at MUW. “In addition to learning how to fix common
problems around the house, the class gave me the confidence to work on
more diverse projects. In fact, I am currently building my own computer
desk,” Yekaitis added.
Aside from teaching the women how to undertake intimidating projects,
Lawrence instructs them how to do so the easiest way. In this case, she
has a couple of rules she goes by.
“Duct tape is our friend. If that will do for a while, then use it,”
Lawrence said. “Kill it and treat it like it’s hot. Anytime you are
going to work on an appliance, make sure you unplug it. I stress that as
often as I can, sometimes I even have to shout it, because safety comes
first—always,” she added.
According to Lawrence, there are two things one should never work on—a
television and a microwave. These repairs should be left to
Patricia Brock, director of continuing education, said, “We got
wonderful feedback from those who took the class. They get satisfied and
feel self-accomplished from being able to do it and not have to call a
This spring Lawrence is teaching Basic Home Repair 102 on Mondays, March
15 to April 12, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
She also is teaching Car Care for Everyone on Tuesdays, March 16 to
April 13, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The cost of taking either class is $50
per person. Those who sign up for the car course will learn how to
listen to a car and know what the pops, sputters, clangs, whines and
squeaks mean. The course will provide hands-on experience with basic car
“It won’t be just repair, but listening to the car telling you what is
wrong,” said Lawrence.
For more information, contact the Office of Continuing Education at
(662) 329-7137 or email