Empowered women put hammer to nail
Habitat For Humanity, Lowe’s Home Improvement sponsor week where women take over construction sites to help erect homes
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By Natalie Gray  May 16, 2014 12:00 am

The sky was draped in dark clouds and riddled with scattered patches of misty drizzle. Eighteen individuals, four men and 14 women – the celebrated members of the day – on May 9 sat together at a barbeque lunch, peeling off work gloves and aprons. Everyone was in a red shirt, some celebrating Habitat for Humanity’s Women’s Work Day and others boasting a 10-year partnership between Habitat for Humanity and Lowe’s Home Improvement.

This particular build day was in dedication to Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build Day, in part with National Women Build Week.


Not to discourage men

“It’s not about discouraging men, but to empower women,” said Isabelle Accorne, director of family and volunteer services at Habitat for Humanity.

According to the Habitat for Humanity webpage, National Women Build Week is held every year, usually within the time of Mother’s Day and is held with the with goal of encouraging women across the country to dedicate their time to help eliminate housing poverty. 

Supporting Women’s Build Week empowers women and equips them with the knowledge and skills to continue building on their own time, said Accorne. 

The volunteers of this build day found themselves at the Cotati construction site where Habitat has been hard at work developing five new single-family homes.

That’s not to say these volunteers are unfamiliar with house-building or even with this particular sight. 

Many of them have volunteered to work on houses Habitat for Humanity is erecting off a (newly created) Cotati side street. According to Accorne, a total number of 3,224 hours have been put in by volunteers working on the houses. Currently, that work has resulted in a cozy-looking home that seems nearly complete; the walls are standing and have been painted lime-green with white trimming.


‘Very exicting the whole way’

Among the volunteers was Ferne Turner, mother of two and member of one of the five families selected to live in finished homes. It is her future home  on which the volunteers are working.

“It’s been very exciting the whole way, and now that it’s here, it’s all the more exciting,” said Turner of the prospect of moving her family into their new home she helped build. “After we move in, my husband swears he’ll always have coffee and barbeque for all the volunteers.”

Turner and her family will be able to move into their house when construction is complete, estimated by the end of July. Once that house is complete, Habitat volunteers will move on to the next.

“It’s just fun being with all these groups of people, doing something that makes a difference, something you know makes a difference,” said volunteer Paula Schulz.

Schulz lives in Sonoma, but tries to make it out to Cotati at least once a week to help with construction. According to Schulz, a building day typically starts at 7 a.m. and ends at 2 p.m. Schulz says she is by no means an early riser, but says the work she does volunteering is worth the sacrificed morning.

Official Women Build Week sponsor Lowe’s sent seven workers – aptly titled Lowe’s Heroes – to the build on Friday to help with construction.

“It gives back to the community and makes me feel like I’m making a difference,” said Lowe’s worker and volunteer Denis Solano. Solano says he volunteers whenever he can for Habitat for Humanity.


Built entirely by volunteers

There still remains one family of the future five to be selected for move-in and four houses needed to be completed, but progress comes slow and with great results. The Cotati houses are to be built entirely by the hands of volunteers and with donated appliances and materials from such sponsors as Lowe’s, Whirlpool Appliances, PG&E and Creative Roofing. Habitat for Humanity is always accepting new volunteers and trains all volunteers in work safety before each build. To find out more information on how to take part in the build and changing a family’s life for the better, go to Habitat’s webpage at www.habitatsoco.org. 

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