Women Build Frames Success for Habitat

Women Build Frames Success for Habitat

Women Build Frames Success for Habitat

By Janet F. Reeder

In the days leading up to Mother’s Day, construction crews of women volunteers joined Habitat for Humanity to help build more than 200 houses in all 50 states.

In Stillwater, overcast skies and intermittent showers did not keep nearly 40 women away from the local Habitat for Humanity affiliate’s first Women Build. Together, women from local churches who were invited to participate in the one-day May 1st Women Build, framed and raised both the exterior and interior walls for a house on 17th Street.

National Women Build Week challenges women to devote at least one day to eliminate poverty housing. The event, held the week prior to Mother’s Day, is an initiative of Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build program that recruits, educates and nurtures women to build and advocate for simple, decent and affordable houses in their communities.

“Our inaugural Women Build was an unbelievable success,” Bud Lacy said.

Lacy is president of Stillwater Habitat for Humanity’s board of directors. He spent the morning supporting the women volunteer’s efforts by seeing that they had coffee and donuts and felt welcome to the build site. Lacy said he was surprised by the enthusiasm and dedication of women who had little or no building experience.

“I expected that after lunch most of them would be tired and want to leave,” Lacy said. “But they came back and probably worked harder in the afternoon.” He admitted he didn’t know what to expect from the day, and was amazed when both exterior and interior walls were completely framed during the build. The house framed during the Women Build, when finished, will be the 19th home built by Stillwater Habitat for Humanity.

Three storage sheds that had been laid out by Habitat’s regular building crew to accommodate the building experience for the large group of women volunteers were also framed by mid- afternoon. The sheds will stay on site for the new home and for two other homes Habitat has built next to it in the past year.

Former Oklahoma State University First Lady Ann Halligan and Representative Lee Denny were also on the Women Build site to help. Both Halligan and Denny spoke briefly about the important work of women in securing safe and decent housing for others in a special ceremony following the raising of the first wall.

Lowe’s, the corporate Women Build sponsor and partner with Habitat for Humanity International, committed $1 million to the 2010 National Women Build Week. This build is a major initiative of Lowe’s five-year $20 million pledge to Habitat, that includes underwriting Habitat’s Women Build program.

The Stillwater Lowe’s conducted two in-store clinics on framing for the participants of the local Women Build. Lowe’s also donated nail bags, hats and tools to the women’s effort.

Women Build Coordinator Janet Reeder said the Stillwater Habitat chapter began planning the event in early March and will continue to work with the women who volunteered and the local area churches they represent. Reeder said the event was organized to help encourage the local faith community to tie in to Habitat’s mission. Churches in the area can sponsor and build homes through Stillwater Habitat for Humanity. The opportunity can afford a congregation the unique ministerial experience of raising funds and teaming up in the construction of a home for a deserving family.

“Habitat is an ecumenical Christian ministry dedicated to eliminating poverty housing,” Reeder said. “The opportunity to work with Stillwater church women on this build was an incredibly positive experience,” she said. “I felt something powerful in this group of women.”

Jodi Taylor, an experienced Tulsa Habitat for Humanity builder, volunteered to come to Stillwater to supervise the one-day Women Build. Taylor, who has worked on many Habitat homes in Tulsa, said the build went better than she had even hoped. Taylor is part of an active group of women builders at Tulsa Habitat who completely build a home a year there. Tulsa’s Women Build scheduled for the same day as Stillwater’s got off the ground early and then was rained out.

Through Women Build, thousands of women volunteers and homeowners gain the confidence and skills to lay bricks, pound nails, raise walls–and create hope in dozens of countries around the world.

Lacy and Reeder are both quick to point out that the work of Stillwater Habitat for Humanity relies on the generosity and continuing support of the Stillwater area community.

“We are always in need of more volunteers, not only to work on the construction site, but to help in all the other activities that make our affiliate so successful,” Lacy said.

A wide variety of volunteer opportunities are available that include construction, and non-construction tasks with the chapter’s metal recycling efforts, assistance at Stillwater Habitat’s ReStore–where donated building and home goods are resold, and many other volunteer activities.

Lacy also said that Stillwater Habitat actively looks for qualified home applicants. A review process assures that homeowners can partner with Habitat for the no-interest mortgage and meet other required guidelines.

To find out more about Stillwater Habitat for Humanity and how you can help, call (405) 372-0403.