Canstar Community News - ONLINE EDITION
Women’s group provides experience, new homes
Pink steel-toed shoes, pink hammers and even pink hard hats are not commons sights on a construction site, unless of course, it is a Habitat for Humanity Women build.
Started in 1991 in the United States, Women Build moved north to Winnipeg in 2005. The group will build its ninth home sometime later this year.
Women Build is a leadership and training program for women interested in home construction. It provides opportunities for women to learn and develop skills during Habitat builds. Some women ultimately become crew or house leaders.
The group provides "women-friendly" builds in which women can feel comfortable developing these skills on the job. Women Build in Winnipeg is a community of women helping other women and their families.
"We saw the need for an all women’s build as many were intimated to participate due to lack of skill set and the fear of being out of place on a construction site. By having only women volunteers on-site, it puts the ladies at ease," said Grace Karpinsky, chair of the Women Build committee.
"Men can sometimes overpower us with their knowledge. On the Women Build site, women are in a nurturing environment where they can easily learn something outside of their comfort zone."
Each house build requires 30 volunteers working for two solid weeks. During the build, women have an opportunity to try their hand at everything from hammering two-by-fours to shingling a room.
Local volunteer and Crescentwood resident, Lana Harrison, revels in the idea of swinging a hammer.
"I enjoyed doing home projects and was excited to learn something new," she said.
An employee with Manitoba Family Services and Labour, Lana was excited to step away from her computer and swing a hammer for a day.
"The atmosphere and camaraderie of working on an all-women’s build was exiting. There is an ease and flow to how we all work together, " she said.
"I participate in a number of charities and events as a volunteer but never get to see who I am helping directly. Here I am working side-by-side with the family who will benefit from my efforts. It makes this experience that much more special."
And this is what motivates a lot of the female volunteers — knowing they are providing another woman and her family with a safe, quality place to live.
The proud, soon-to-be-home owner of the dwelling Harrison was working on is Alyssa, a mother of three children and two foster kids. The family currently lives in a sparsely furnished home with limited space.
"I am always afraid for my children where we are living right now. I don’t let them bike around the neighbourhood. My daughter can’t wear certain clothing out of fear she will get beaten up and have it stolen," Alyssa said. "Moving them into an area that is safe means so much to me."
To qualify for a Habitat home, Alyssa had to meet certain criteria — have steady employment, go through a full assessment process and put in hours of sweat equity .
"I wasn’t in a financial position to purchase a home for my family. When I learned about Habitat for Humanity through a cousin who is a Habitat homeowner, I decided to apply. I soon realized the unique and affordable Habitat mortgage plan could finally make homeownership a reality for my family too," she said.
With tears collecting in her eyes, Alyssa spoke of how much it meant to her that she was literally building a home and a better future for her family.
"I was overwhelmed with emotion while hammering nails into place as I realized I was creating a solid new path for my kids," she said.
For more information or to donate either time or financial resources, contact the Habitat For Humanity office at 204-235-5271 or www.habitat.mb.ca.
Carolyne Braid is a community correspondent for Crescentwood. You can reach her at email@example.com.
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