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A different type of learning

National Women Build Week: Memphis, Tennessee
A bright and sunny Saturday morning at 7:00 a.m. is a day and time you don’t typically see my teenage daughter, Savey, and me together “up and heading out.” Or if we are heading out on a Saturday, it is a higher probability that we are doing mother/daughter manicures and pedicures much later in the day!

Not this beautiful sunny Saturday. My daughter is used to my reminding her how blessed we are. Today is a day that together we were able to share our fortune with somebody else by helping to build a home with them.

You might be thinking that we watch home improvement shows and frequently shop at Lowe’s. Well, we do watch the design shows on television, but our experience in home improvement has been limited to hanging pictures and painting.

The warm and friendly greeting by Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis’ welcome volunteers helped ease our concerns. We soon headed over with hammer and nails in hand to hear that we were going to be putting windows in today. (Gulp!)

Our coach, a fellow volunteer, quickly outlined the steps to framing and actually putting in a window. Those simple steps sounded easy, and fortunately, between Savey’s talents and mine we were able to put them in place.

When was the last time you did a project together with your teenager—a project that neither of you have ever done before? Together, we learned each other’s strengths and tapped into fellow volunteers and our coach as needed. Together, we framed four windows!

We were lucky enough to work alongside Riko Jones who will live in the house we labored on. Her joy and excitement to have this house was contagious.

The joy for Savey and me is not only helping someone else but having the opportunity to learn something new together and partner to make a difference in our community. This year she graduates from high school, but on May 8, we partnered to help build a Habitat for Humanity home with a Women Build crew. Giving back by participating with Habitat for Humanity is a different type of learning—one I think will be part of her life as she heads to college next fall.

Judy Christa-Cathey is a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis, and vice president of Global Brand Marketing for Hilton Worldwide’s Hampton Inn division.

This Women Build house is one of 18 Habitat Greater Memphis is building as part of a mixed-income development. The final build day and dedication on the Women Build house will take place June 26. Learn more about Habitat Greater Memphis at