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Volunteer discovers she can make a difference

National Women Build Week 2012: Paterson, New Jersey
ByFrancesca Assad


Women Build volunteers on the build site in Paterson, New Jersey.


Raising the walls in Paterson.


Volunteers celebrate a job well done after a long day of building.


When I first volunteered for Habitat for Humanity back in 2006, I was eager to support the cause, but unsure of what skills I could offer on a construction site. As a recent high school graduate at the time, I clumsily hammered thumbs instead of nails, and the word “framing” roused a mental image of putting a photograph on display.

In 2012, by twist of fate, I was offered a wonderful opportunity to get involved in Paterson Habitat’s Women Build initiative and it instantly became a cause close to my heart.

While this year’s National Women Build Week was officially set for May 5 – 13, Paterson Habitat’s preparation for this event started months in advance with the Lowe’s Women Build clinics.

In February, the clinics ran for six weeks at Lowe’s of Paterson and armed participants with skills to use at a construction site as well as the know-how to perform simple repairs around the house. Lowe’s of Paterson’s Gina Fontana and Gino Naumenko go the extra mile every year in teaching these clinics with their “hands-on” style training.

On May 11, 2012, more than 30 women gathered to raise the walls on Paterson Habitat’s seventh Women Build House. Julie Edelman, author of “The Accidental Housewife,” as well as Pam McBride, who designed and helped to finance and build our first two Women Build houses, were both back to support Women Build.

Gail and Mackie Price also came to represent as Paterson Habitat’s lead mother-daughter team for this year’s theme, “The Build Generation,” which reflects the event’s goal to recruit and train women volunteers, as well as welcome the next generation of Habitat Women Builders to help support Habitat’s mission to create affordable housing.

It is incredibly wonderful that not only do the number of Women Build volunteers seem to grow each year, many repeatedly return in a show of support for the cause. I was both in awe and inspired by these amazing and selfless women who come to the site with the intention of giving back to their community.

Hopefully, they are able to go home not just having physically accomplished framing a house or raising a wall, but also knowing their actions send a beautiful message to current and succeeding generations hoping to effect change: that women can make a difference.

Francesca Assad is the resource development assistant for Paterson Habitat for Humanity.