BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Habitat for Humanity Buffalo is asking women in Western New York to strap on tool belts and put on hard hats to take part in Women Build Week in early May and in Women Build projects all year round.
Habitat for Humanity provides low-interest loans to community members who complete home ownership classes and put in 500 hours of sweat equity to create safe, healthy spaces for their families.
All of the volunteers make it possible.
“It’s a lot of fun. I work with different people all the time,” said one dedicated volunteer, Anne Duffy. “The guys on the crew are always willing to share their knowledge and experience.”
Duffy is often the only woman on an all-male crew. She says it’s never a problem, but she can see why that would intimidate some women. After all, getting started on a work site for the first time does take a bit of courage. “We’ll call it eye opening,” Duffy said, laughing.
Women Build organizers hope to make more women feel comfortable giving it a try.
Volunteers don’t need any background in construction to get started. Site managers and other experienced volunteers, like Duffy, will teach you every skill you need to know to help out.
“Any woman can do this,” said Michelle Ashby, Women Build Buffalo co-chair and CEO of Tipping Point Communications. “I am a CEO during the day, but for my volunteer time, I love to come out and build on site.”
Ashby is working to get more women to join her on the work sites, both during National Women Build Week in early May, and year round. She says working with Habitat for Humanity is a very powerful experience. “It empowers the homeowner to have their own home, where they pay their bills and know how to keep up a home like this, but it also empowers women like me to know that we can do things out of our comfort zone.”
“I know this is making a real difference in a family’s life,” she added, pointing out that graduation rates for children in Habitat houses are double the average for the city.
Wakia Moore knows the difference first hand. She and her six children moved into their new home with the help of Habitat for Humanity Buffalo back in December. They had been living in a shelter and the kids were struggling with the stress. Now, her oldest child is going to college and Wakia has a new job, as well as new confidence in her own home repair skills.
She put in hundreds of hours of sweat equity before moving into her home, working alongside scores of other volunteers, including a lot of women. “We are strong and independent and we can do those things ourselves,” she said.
If you’d like to get involved, you can learn more on the Habitat for Humanity Buffalo website: http://www.habitatbuffalo.org/national-women-build-week/
Watch the videos below to see our conversations and demonstrations with Habitat leaders, homeowners, volunteers, and organizers during News 4 Wake Up.