The Spokesman-Review


Raising the roof

SUNDAY, MAY 3, 2009

Female volunteers needed to take part in Habitat’s Women Build Week

“Rain or shine, volunteers help raise walls and change lives,” according to Linda Hagen Miller, volunteer communications director for Habitat for Humanity of North Idaho Women Build.

Female volunteers are needed to work on the 12th Habitat for Humanity of North Idaho house in the Post Falls Millard Place subdivision as part of the National Women Build Week May 2-10. This is the second Women Build house in Kootenai County.

National Women Build Week, the national initiative of Habitat’s Women Build program, underwritten by Lowe’s, “celebrates the compassion, dedication, talents and abilities of women from all walks of life.”

Habitat for Humanity of North Idaho is a nonprofit, nondenominational organization whose mission since 1989 has been to build affordable, energy efficient houses for low- and moderate-income families in Kootenai County. It is an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, an ecumenical Christian ministry dedicated to eliminating poverty housing.

“Women Build brings women together to learn construction skills and then to use those skills to help solve the issue of poverty housing,” says Hagen Miller.

No experience is necessary and volunteers often go from being unskilled participants to people able to supervise and lead subsequent crews. Some even move into board positions with the local Habitat affiliate, according to Hagen Miller.

The women will volunteer as part of the 16 Penny Gals, an all-female, volunteer construction crew, that will be working hard in the days leading up to Mother’s Day.

This timeframe was selected to highlight the fact that in the United States more than 70 percent of Habitat’s homes are built with female heads of household who have families; and that more than 12 million U.S. children live in poverty.

“Mother’s Day is the right time to remind people that we can help parents provide warm, safe homes for their children and solve poverty housing by supporting Women Build,” says Hagen Miller.

Homeowners are chosen based on housing need, ability to repay the interest-free mortgage, and willingness to partner with Habitat by contributing 250 hours of “sweat equity” toward construction.

“Sweat equity” is the term used to refer to the labor that Habitat homeowners expend in building their houses and the houses of their neighbors.

Habitat for Humanity of North Idaho executive director, Jim Brannon, says the Women Build project is important because it mobilizes new volunteers.

“Women Build brings together women from all walks of life, and it is exciting to see so many women volunteers swinging a hammer,” says Brannon.

The Post Falls Women Build new home recipient is Cora Friedrick, a highway flagger, and her 13-year-old son, Jeremy.

“I have always been a single parent, and this just means the world to me and my son to have our own home,” says Friedrick.

“Caring is a universal language,” says Hagen Miller. “We welcome new volunteers to help us positively impact and transform the lives of families in our community.”

Contact correspondent Laura Umthun by e-mail at lauraumthun@yahoo.com.


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