Building Homes, Rebuilding Lives: They Built a 'Dream House'

Building Homes, Rebuilding Lives
They Built a 'Dream House'

In the spring of 2005, some women in Washington County undertook a major project. They elected to build a "dream house." I don't mean in the sense that they sat down to design a "dream house" where they might live. No, they followed in the footsteps of many of their pioneer ancestors. They took up saws, hammers and nails and actually, physically built a house. Yes, it was a "dream house" but not for their family, but a home they had dreamed about building for a family living in substandard conditions. Safe affordable housing is a basic necessity for every family. Without a decent place to live, people cannot be productive members of society, children cannot learn and families cannot thrive.
Inadequate housing also impacts the physical and psychological development of children and the problems can be irreversible. Almost ninety-two percent of the households with children that confront housing problems receive no housing assistance.
In Washington County, more than 11,000 people live in poverty. That's one in ten. Half of these are children. These families are earning wages that do not allow them to provide decent housing. And that's where these women came into the picture.
This group of women is called the "Women Build." It is part of Habitat for Humanity's volunteers. It is a team of women from all walks of life, willing to accept the many challenge's of physically building a house from start to finish. Some of these women have worked on Habitat homes as volunteers alongside the men volunteers. They have gained some knowledge of the construction business. Many others, however, had to learn on the job. Some took special courses offered by Lowe's. Classes that taught them to install windows, drive nails, saw lumber, hang siding, caulk seams, hang wallboard, and many other topics. They found new muscle aches, banged up fingers, experienced cuts and bruises, but conquered it all. They built a home, now occupied by a Habitat family.
Now they are beginning to plan for their next one. They hope to get it started in the spring of 2007. You may ask "why not sooner?" Well, basically it is because of having to raise funds for the project. Hey! Those women are ready and raring to go! If someone comes up with the sponsor funding of $65,000, they're ready to start. But, if not, they must plan, develop, and start fundraisers to get those funds in place by the spring of next year. Any one interested in helping financially may make contributions to Women Build at Habitat for Humanity of Washington County, 20 South Prospect Street, Hagerstown, Maryland 21740. This new Women Build house will be dedicated to Shirl Cialli, who with her late husband, Fred, helped organize Habitat in Washington County thirteen years ago.
According to Executive Director Sherry Brown-Cooper, "The Women Build project is women who are determined to think outside the box, learn new skills, make a difference in the lives of children and families, and show that they are not only the main nurturers of the house, but can also build a house. It's a program that empowers women." Any women interested in becoming part of this exciting volunteer project may become part of it by contacting Habitat for Humanity office at 301-791-9009.

William L. Bulla is a freelance writer residing in Washington County.