Building Homes, Rebuilding Lives! Women Build History
"Building Homes, Rebuilding Lives!"
Women Build History
In 1991, a group of women in Charlotte, N.C., completed the first women-built Habitat for Humanity house. With this, the seeds for Habitat for Humanity's Women Build program were planted.
This "build" garnered so much support and enthusiasm that, in short order, the idea caught on and many other "women builds" followed. In 1998, Habitat for Humanity International officially created the Women Build Department.
Between 1991 and 2003, women crews built more than 350 Habitat houses in the United States. Since 2003, in large part due to the support of our national underwriter, Lowe's and major sponsor Home Interiors and Gifts, Inc., the program has more than doubled in size. To date, women crews have built nearly 800 Habitat for Humanity homes in 14 countries, and the program is growing across international borders to empower women everywhere to address the problem of poverty housing for themselves, their families and their neighbors.
Women Build is not a stranger to Habitat for Humanity of Washington County either. Women have been active in the actual construction of Habitat homes in our area since its inception. However, it was in 2005, when the first Women Build house was erected on Merrbaugh Drive in Hagerstown's Gateway Crosssing.
The Women Build committee immediately began to plan for another house. This house will become the home for Melissha and her three young daughters. The construction will be dedicated to the memory of Shirl Cialli, one of the founders of the local Habitat affiliate. May 12 is the date selected to raise the walls on Hagerstown's Wayside Avenue for this new Habitat home.
But...much work has to be done prior to hammering that first nail. Raising the funds, purchasing the site, and many other tasks have kept these women busy. This has included taking construction classes to hone their building skills. About 20 women, from all walks of life, have meet twice monthly since last September at the Washington County Technical High School to learn construction skills from a dedicated group of experienced Habitat volunteers. The women have learned how to read blueprints, hammer nails, saw wood, install windows and siding and many other skills. They have become comfortable working with power tools, as well. In addition, they have been working when weather permits to prepare the Wayside Avenue building site for construction.
The Women Build participants will be paired in small groups with experienced male Habitat volunteers to raise the walls on this home. Both skilled and unskilled women who want to participate in this project or future Women Build projects, are asked to contact the Habitat for Humanity office at 301-791-9009.
And, more homes are needed! Affordable housing is still a major issue in Washington County. Habitat for Humanity is seeking land on which to build affordable houses for hard-working, low-income people in need of decent places to live. Do you have land? Do you need a tax break? Do you have land you would be willing to sell below market value? If not you, do you know someone that does? A donation of property to a non-profit organization such as Habitat for Humanity of Washington County can be a significant tax advantage to the donor. Those sold to Habitat for less than appraised value can also provide a tax advantage.
If you can help Habitat fined building sites for our homes, please call 301-791-9009.
William L. Bulla is a freelance writer residing in Washington County.