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FlyLady livens things up in North Carolina

National Women Build Week 2012: Asheville, North Carolina
By Tracie Troha


Marla “FlyLady” Cilley (left) visits the Women Build site in Asheville, North Carolina.


Michele Pietrowski proudly shows off her paint-stained fingers.


Volunteers pose in front of the Women Build house in Asheville, North Carolina.


The chilly wind and rain that swept over the Blue Ridge Mountains did little to dampen the spirits of the 13 volunteers who participated in Asheville Area Habitat’s National Women Build Week event on May 9.

Inside the three-bedroom home in Asheville’s Shiloh community, volunteers laughed, shared stories and even danced as they painted and caulked throughout the afternoon.
Part of the fun and excitement was due to the appearance of Marla “FlyLady” Cilley, whose popular website offers advice to women on how to organize their homes and their lives.
Cilley’s bubbly and fun personality kept things lively as the women worked. There was lots of teasing as volunteers managed to get paint on their clothes, arms and faces.

The Asheville event was Cilley’s first Habitat experience, and she hopes to continue supporting and promoting the Women Build program as often as she can.

“I’m going to tell other women to put National Women Build Week on their calendars,” Cilley said. “We have the ability to put one foot in front of the other and do something, so let’s set aside time to volunteer.”

Cilley, who lives in North Carolina, plans to visit other Habitat build sites across the country to lend a hand. The Asheville Area Habitat Women Build was the perfect place for her to start, she said, because it gave her the opportunity to help a family “in my own backyard.”
Seven local Lowe’s representatives joined Cilley at the Women Build site, along with a few other Asheville residents.

Karen Stepniak, a Lowe’s commercial sales representative, has participated in all seven of Asheville Area Habitat’s Women Build events. Taking time off from her schedule to volunteer every year and to recruit other Lowe’s staff to join her is very meaningful to her.

“When you have a construction background, it’s easy to want to apply to volunteer for Women Build,” Stepniak said. “I had no problem getting other women at Lowe’s to join me.”

Kelly Cooper, Stepniaks’s co-worker at the Lowe’s store in Weaverville, N.C., said it was a unique experience to volunteer on a Habitat build site and give back to the community.

“I’m always willing to help people,” Cooper said. “If I can do it, I will.”

Asheville resident Kellie Kiely, another first time Habitat volunteer, said a friend encouraged her to join the Women Build.

“It’s been a very great experience,” Kiely said. “I’m excited to get my feet wet with Habitat on my Women Build site.”

When the Women Build house is complete in a few months, it will become the residence of Rhonda Chapman and her three children.

When Chapman and her children visited the build site to thank the volunteers for their efforts, the emotions from the day became overwhelming and there wasn’t a dry eye in sight.

“I’m so grateful for everyone who came out. You helped to bring our family home,” Chapman said.

Tracie Troha is a program communications writer/editor for Habitat for Humanity International.