Showing what women can do in Dallas and Charleston
Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity volunteers paint the side of a house during their Women Build day Wednesday, May 6, 2009.
Fact: Women build.
Just yesterday, I was one of two people working on a Habitat for Humanity house in a West Dallas neighborhood, both of us women. Several of the neighborhood men stopped long enough to ask us if we knew what we were doing up there on that roof.
Yes, we’re not up here fixin’ our nails or baking cupcakes. In fact, we’re the house leaders. Yes, we are women who know how to build a house. We’re not alone either.
Today I had the opportunity to work on a home as part of National Women Build Week. It was a paint day which is a very narrow representation of the work women consistently do for Habitat. If it wasn’t for women – who account for half of our affiliate’s construction supervisors and 70 percent of our assistant construction supervisors at Dallas Area Habitat – our homes wouldn’t get built!
I have personally worked on several homes that will end up in the hands of single mothers and it is one of my greatest joys to empower these women in the actual building of their homes. I don’t hand them brooms or nail magnets, but hammers and saws.
Women build and own their own homes. Women teach and lead others in all aspects of building homes. Women carry 80-pound stacks of shingles up ladders and install 4x8 pieces of OSB on a 6-pitch roof. So, the next time you’re out on a construction site and a bunch of women come around, don’t count them out. Step up to the plate.
There isn’t a National Women Build Week because it’s the only week a year that women are in the construction world. It’s a celebration of all the word we do year-round. For many of us, it is just another week – another week that happens to highlight the enormous contribution women make to Habitat’s home-building efforts.
Women Build. Why not have women build your next home?
Kelly Williams is an AmeriCorps volunteer serving as a house leader with Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity.
Women Build volunteers with Charleston (S.C.) HFH tackle the roof.
As I headed to the worksite this morning, I was thankful that it was a little cloudy since we had plans to be on the roof all day. May in Charleston means temperature already reaching the 90-degree mark!
We had a great mix of women today. Some had volunteered with Charleston Habitat for Humanity before; some hadn’t. Some were college students, some owned their own business. As we were getting started, our construction manager said, “If you’ve never been on a roof before, we encourage you to step out of your comfort zone – but we do have some work that needs to be done on the ground as well. Does anyone not want to go up on the roof?”
I was most surprised that once we got up there, almost all of them said they had never been on a roof before!
We worked up a sweat quickly as the clouds seemed to disappear in a hurry. Tearing off the shingles, I could smell banana bread baking through the roof vents – courtesy of homeowner, Ms. Gardner. She’s a great cook! Four years ago, in the middle of having triple bypass surgery, she had a stroke and was in a coma for three weeks. The entire right side of her body was paralyzed. But Ms. Gardner proudly shares her story of determination and how God healed her. She now gets around well with a cane – and she helps on site as much as she can.
The rest of the day was filled with everything that Habitat and Women Build is all about. We all got to know one another. A few volunteers told me how they woke up feeling excited about today – excited to do something different; to do something for someone else.
When Kat, an employee of the City of North Charleston, and I finished nailing down all the new tar paper, we felt a true sense of accomplishment. Kat’s only concern was that her husband would expect her to repair their own roof now!
Thanks to all of you for your fearless service today!
Laurel Prichard is the volunteer coordinator for Charleston (S.C.) Habitat for Humanity. She also began working with Charleston Habitat as an AmeriCorps*VISTA member in 2007. National Women Build Week was her first experience with the Women Build program.