One of my privileges in 2019 is to serve as President of the Women’s Professional Forum (WPF). Last fall one of the members of WPF asked me if I thought WPF would like to be part of the 2019 Habitat For Humanity Women Build. I offered her idea to our board of directors who quickly endorsed the plan. In no time, our members jumped on board and 56 supporters raised $6960 of our $3000 goal. Then 35 WPF members signed up for an onsite work day. As volunteers, we work under the guidance of construction professionals and alongside other volunteers and the future Habitat homeowners.
I must admit, I was a bit intimidated by the thought of hauling around 2x4s, wearing a hard hat, and wielding a hammer – but not to be outdone by the younger in our group I was determined to keep up and excel. I knew that putting puzzle pieces together is what I enjoy in my work and I am good with shapes, so it was just up my alley. I got excited at matching the boards to the x’s and lines and standing on the joint as I nailed the wood together. And it wasn’t a surprise that I found that the “tat tat tat” of 17 hammers at once was a pleasing melody. It takes no time for a group of strong women to put together a side and raise it, and the gratification of the accomplishment made us press forward at an amazing but precise speed.
By 10:00 a.m., dozens of women in bright blue Habitat T-shirts strode toward the build site. They came to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with us for the kickoff ceremony, blessing, and celebration. Someone passed a shiny paint can filled with brightly colored markers. Each woman took a Sharpie and inscribed her unique blessing on the bare wooden boards that made up the frame of the house that would become home for a proud yet humble Nassira and his wife, Leila, and their five children. In all, seventeen women’s groups will each take a turn in the building of this house.
Habitat for Humanity of Greater Greensboro has been building and renovating homes in Greensboro since 1987. Since that time, Habitat has helped house over 480 families. Women volunteers have been picking up hammers and building with Habitat for 30 years! There have been all women teams who have signed on for a week or weeks at a time, so women on the Habitat sites is not at all new, but as I understand it, this is the first build with women raising all the finances and populating all the build teams.
Habitat homeowners are hard-working low-income families who need a hand up, not a handout. Each homeowner must put in 250 hours of sweat equity and attend homeownership education classes. Habitat homeowners purchase their homes and pay a monthly mortgage payment at 0% interest capped at 25% of their monthly income.
The build day far exceeded my expectations at every level. The goal for the WPF group was to raise 3-4 walls by 3 pm. We raised 8 and finished early. I got to know 16 other WPF women better and working shoulder to shoulder with future homeowners Nas and Leila made the day all the sweeter. I have already driven by the house to just check in on it. It is out of the way for me, but I am certain I will keep an eye on it as the summer passes. If you ever have an opportunity to be part of a Habitat build team, I highly recommend it.