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A first in Mount Pleasant and a Women Build in the nation’s capitol

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HFH Mount Pleasant’s Women Build crew.

Habitat for Humanity Mount Pleasant’s National Women Build Week participation was a huge success for our small Texas town.

We were blessed with the assistance of Trinity Baptist Church, which had teamed up with Crossroads Missions (a church-Habitat connector) to pre-assemble walls with a team of more than 125 Trinity, CrossRoads, and community volunteers of all ages. They built the walls for two homes, enabling us to have a Women Build – and a fun “men’s build” challenge from the other site! This was our first ever simultaneous double-build.

Of course, this is a year of firsts for us, as we began our first Women Build.

From 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., we had 37 women and six men swinging hammers, lifting walls and lending a hand to put Ira and Leslie Marshall’s house together.

By 12:30, when a local Girl Scout group brought us lunch, we looked up to see a house halfway completed. It was an amazing feeling to see the walls go up one at a time and know that you helped put that into play.

By 2:30, the last interior and exterior walls were in place. There were tears of joy and triumph on many faces.

Amber Cullen is a recently elected board member with Mount Pleasant Habitat for Humanity and the Features Editor of the Daily Tribune in Mount Pleasant, Texas.

Coming back for more in the nation’s capitol
At our National Women Build day in Washington, D.C., more than 25 women of all ages and backgrounds, worked side by side to build four neighboring Habitat homes. Some were called by their faith; some by their interest in learning construction skills; others simply by the long-standing tradition of Women Build.

Kaye, Ling, Heidi and Torrey worked on building the Insulated Concrete Forms foundations (which will make for very energy-efficient basements!).

They all happened to be architects, and were happy to be out of the office and actually building homes, piece by piece, instead of designing them on a computer.

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A volunteer with Habitat for Humanity of Washington DC helps frame a house during National Women Build Week.

Roslyn, who works at our local Lowe’s store, designs kitchens full-time. As I helped her pick out the eight-penny nails she needed for exterior wall sheathing, she seemed happy to be learning about a new phase of construction. She’s ready to go back to her co-workers and share her experience, in hopes that they’ll join her on the site for another build day.

During lunch, two guests from Habitat for Humanity International visited to give us a “Lunch ‘n Learn” presentation on how we can advocate for affordable housing in our communities and worldwide. They explained that Habitat is working very hard to make sure that federal stimulus money goes toward eliminating poverty housing, and that we can help by participating in Habitat’s advocacy campaign.

After lunch, we got back to work building foundations, framing, sheathing, and preparing for floor joists. As I stepped back to observe, I thought “What a beautiful site!” Women were swinging hammers, teaching each other how to use the chop saw safely, measuring and bending rebar for the foundation. All the while, they smiled, wiped the sweat from their brows, and kept going. By the end of the day, the homes were already taking shape.

As we put away tools and materials and started heading home, I spoke with a new volunteer named April. She first learned about D.C. Habitat when her dog escaped from her yard and found his way onto our construction site. She was so impressed and excited about our work in her neighborhood that she decided to get involved. After her first Women Build today, she felt proud about her service and the skills she gained.

She left the site with a big smile and told me: “Darci, you know I’ll be back!”

Darci Palmer has been building with Habitat since the summer of 2006, when she moved from California to Washington, D.C. to be an AmeriCorps construction crew leader with Habitat D.C. After two fun and rewarding years of AmeriCorps, she is now the affiliate’s full-time Operations and Development associate.