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Trisha Yearwood launches a celebration in Oklahoma


Recording artist Trisha Yearwood volunteered on two Women Build sites during National Women Build Week. On May 5, she also conducted interviews during a satellite media tour in Tulsa, Okla.


Not a diva to be found in Tulsa, Oklahoma

“Nail-gun diva.” This is not a term I was familiar with prior to Tuesday.

When the alarms on my cell phone and hotel room phone both go off at 2:45 Tuesday morning, I stumble into consciousness and somehow get dressed, packed and down to the hotel lobby by 3:25 a.m. After a soda (sugar and caffeine are a requirement at this time of day) and gut-wrenching few moments believing I’ve locked the car keys in my rental car, I locate the keys in my purse (typical), and head to the offices of Tulsa Habitat for Humanity and a very public celebration of the launch of National Women Build Week.

Jane Dunbar, Tulsa Habitat development officer, is already on site with affiliate construction staff, two unnaturally perky (at least for 3:45 in the morning) Women Build volunteers, a full broadcast production crew and representatives from Lowe’s.

Soon, Trisha Yearwood arrives.

Trisha generously agreed to serve as the public face of National Women Build Week this year and her reward is a very early morning wakeup call to participate in a satellite media tour. Lowe’s – Habitat’s national partner and sponsor of National Women Build Week – arranged to bring Trisha into living rooms across the county, to spread the word about National Women Build Week, the Women Build program and her personal experiences with Habitat.

On site in Tulsa, Trisha meets and chats with everyone there at this unearthly hour. Then, she gets to work. For nearly eight hours, Trisha sits in front of a camera, with precious few breaks, talking about her work with Habitat the way moms carry on about their kids. She’s funny, flirty, charming and encouraging; knowledgeable and dedicated. Her effort helps shed light on what Habitat’s women volunteers are accomplishing at more than 200 build sites throughout the country.

She knows her way around the interview and camera scene, and she transitions seamlessly from one question to the next. One moment, she expertly explains Habitat’s concept of “sweat equity”; the next, she talks about build techniques and tools. How lucky we are! Here is Trisha Yearwood, dedicating her time and talents to take the National Women Build Week initiative to the next level. Her support is just unreal.

Then, early in the interviews, she says it: “nail-gun diva.” She had learned to use a nail gun three days earlier, building window and door frames in a woodshop after rain cancelled construction on Tulsa’s Women Build site.

“It’s what I want for Mother’s Day,” she says. No lie – she means it. It’s clear from the way her face lights up.

Before the day ends, Trisha poses for photos with Women Build volunteers – her favorite new tool front and center in the frame.

Nail gun? Check.

Diva? Absolutely not.

Tami Griffin is a communications manager for Habitat for Humanity International. She’s based in Colorado, but is traveling to Women Build worksites during National Women Build Week.

Trisha Yearwood and a study in Supporter Mobilization 101
How do you inspire others to support something? Be passionate, be inspiring and, oh yeah – it helps if you’re beautiful, talented and accomplished.

So what brings Lowe’s, Habitat and Trisha Yearwood together? Some 2x4s, a bucketful of nails and a passion to help.

Lowe’s is passionate about Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build (in fact, we underwrite the program), and our associates do a tremendous job assisting through “how-to” clinics and local builds.

Then there’s National Women Build Week.

This week is on the cusp of becoming a full-fledged movement. It’s one week a year devoted to inspiring women to help build, and thus, help change lives. When Lowe’s heard that country music artist and actress Trisha Yearwood would be spokesperson for the week, well, that was great news.

It was great news not because she’s famous – although that certainly helps raise awareness for a good cause. It was great news because she genuinely believes in Habitat and that kind of genuine support can’t be manufactured. As spokesperson, she agreed to participate in a media tour, which means a morning of talking with outlets nationwide about Habitat and National Women Build Week. After watching her conduct more than 35 interviews (many of them back-to-back and without complaint – I had more bathroom breaks than she did), I understood just how deeply her passion runs.

As reporters asked about her love life, her music life and her cooking life (she has way more lives than me), she kept returning to the message that women need to stop thinking about helping and “just do it.”

She acknowledged that it took her almost 10 years between thinking, “Hey, I should do that,” to actually participating in a Habitat build. That’s Trisha. She’s not afraid to be human. Throughout the day, her passion only grew as she did interview after interview. In one interview, she said, “Construction can be cute!” I immediately “tweeted” that quote. I mean, how cute is that?

She’s one of the girls. She wore cool jeans and the same T-shirt and fleece combination that the rest of us donned to support the week. Despite hours of the same questions, she kept a glint in her eyes and a focus on the purpose: This is about empowering women to help women.

By the end of the day, I knew that I would participate in the next Women Build in my area not so much because Trisha has inspired me but because she reminded me that I have to make these things a priority. I have to just do it. And something else happened.

I got to see the Habitat homeowner honored by their local team. I got to see Timika Horn choke back tears, thank the Habitat family and hug her children as they were on the brink of becoming homeowners.

That’s what this is all about. Trisha has given dozens of speeches in front of adoring fans, but the remarks she makes to the family top all – she is in the moment, so proud of their accomplishments and so supportive of their future. In one day, she has proclaimed herself a “Nail Gun Diva” yet demonstrated just how far from the “D” word she really resides. I’m thankful that her passion has reached through the cameras and into so many living rooms across America.

If we’re lucky, at this time next year, countless women will be saying they finally decided to just do it, because Trisha helped inspire them.

Maureen Rich works for Lowe’s public relations. Lowe’s is a national partner with Habitat for Humanity and is the underwriter of the Women Build program.