National Women Build Week: South County Habitat for Humanity (R.I.)
By Jesse Beauregard
In Kingston, R.I. at the South County Habitat for Humanity Rhode Island affiliate, the Women Build team returned to the build site where their crew leader got her Habitat volunteer start.
Fifteen years ago, when Christine Fitzpatrick first became involved with her local affiliate thanks to the help of a friend who invited her along one day, she worked on constructing a new home on Kingstown Road. Over the years, Christine dedicated herself to building up a group of women who wanted to get together and be involved in building and rehabilitating Habitat homes on a regular basis.
Now, up to 15 “regulars” join Christine every Thursday to work on one of the many projects South County Habitat for Humanity Rhode Island has in progress. On May 9, midway into National Women Build Week, the hardworking group of Women Build volunteers rehabilitated and refreshed the same house on Kingstown Road that Christine helped construct in 1998 in preparation for a new Habitat homeowner to move in.
“I’ve found that women are very interested in building projects and being a part of providing housing for families,” Christine said. “When we get together every Thursday, I love seeing someone become inspired by what they’ve learned. It’s a great feeling to hear that someone has gone home and used the skills they’ve learned to fix something in their own house. There’s this empowering feeling of ‘okay, wow, I can do that’ now.”
“They realize they have all these skills they never thought they had and they were nowhere near as intimidating to learn as they thought,” said Jay Shartenberg, Director of Operations for South County Habitat for Humanity.
This fall, Christine, the Women Build team of South County and the volunteers Christine hopes to inspire through events like National Women Build Week, are breaking ground on an all-women built new construction project in the area. They hope to help spread the joy of giving back by providing safe, decent housing for local families.
Jesse Beauregard is the social media consultant for Habitat International’s Women Build and Cars for Homes programs.