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States’ first families, Habitat for Humanity, Lowe’s celebrate nationwide Women Build initiative

Maine first lady Karen Baldacci, Virginia first lady Anne Holton and others celebrate women, families building homes across United States

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Nov. 28, 2007) — State first ladies, including Anne Holton and Jinks Holton, first lady and former first lady of Virginia; Karen Baldacci, first lady of Maine; and Sally Ganem, first lady of Nebraska, will join women volunteers today to celebrate the culmination of the two-year First Families Building Homes Across America program. The initiative aimed to increase the involvement of women in the construction of Habitat homes and raise awareness of the need for affordable housing in every state.

The group is in the nation’s capital today to raise the walls on the project’s final home. With more than 50 First Families homes built or under current construction, the program exceeded its original goal to bring the total number of homes built as part of Habitat’s Women Build program, which is underwritten by Lowe’s, to more than 1,000 nationwide.

The First Families Building Homes Across America program enlisted governors’ spouses and other local and statewide leaders to raise their hammers alongside Habitat and women volunteers to construct Women Build homes in partnership with families in every U.S. state and the District of Columbia.

“Substandard housing is a serious concern in every state,” said Linda Sultan, director of Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build program. “The First Families initiative helped raise awareness of the problem and then offered a solution — that women everywhere can get involved to help low-income families purchase a safe, decent, affordable home.”

Habitat for Humanity launched year one of the First Families initiative in May 2006 in Mobile, Ala., and since then more than 50 First Families houses have been built or are under construction through the efforts of local and state leaders, Habitat for Humanity women volunteers and Habitat homeowners.

As 2007 co-chairs of the First Families program, first ladies Karen Baldacci (Maine) and Mikey Hoeven (North Dakota) led the effort to involve state and local leaders in this year’s work.

“I was honored to lead the First Families initiative this year with Mrs. Hoeven and I’m thankful to the Holtons for participating in our closing event,” said Baldacci. “The involvement of these ladies and other first families across the country has helped us address the need for safe, affordable housing by encouraging women across the country to take an active role in helping families in their communities.”

“I hope the work completed as part of the First Families initiative will continue to inspire women volunteers to work with Habitat’s Women Build program,” Hoeven added. “Women Build empowers women to help create affordable housing in their communities, benefiting families across America.”

Habitat’s Women Build program gives women the opportunity to learn construction skills and to use these skills to help move families out of substandard housing. In addition to underwriting the Women Build program, Lowe’s provides construction expertise through in-store “How-To” clinics and with their employee volunteers on build sites. More information is available at

“Through our partnership with Habitat, Lowe’s helps move families into safer environments where their children can grow and succeed,” noted Larry D. Stone, chairman of the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation. “By supporting the Women Build program with in-store and on-site employee assistance, we have been able to share our knowledge with women volunteers in the communities we serve.”

About Habitat for Humanity International
Habitat for Humanity International is an ecumenical Christian ministry that welcomes to its work all people dedicated to the cause of eliminating poverty housing. Since its founding in 1976, Habitat has built more than 250,000 houses worldwide, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for more than 1 million people. For more information, visit

About Lowe’s
Lowe’s is a proud supporter of Habitat for Humanity International, American Red Cross, United Way of America and the Home Safety Council, in addition to numerous nonprofit organizations and programs that help communities across the country. In 2006, the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation awarded $15 million to diverse organizations across the United States. Lowe’s also encourages volunteerism through the Lowe’s Heroes program, a company-wide employee volunteer initiative. Lowe’s is a FORTUNE® 50 company with fiscal year 2006 sales of $46.9 billion and has more than 1,450 stores in 49 states. For more information, visit