An empowering path to construction
Almost every nonprofit organization seems to be known for something, whether it’s a signature fundraiser, campaign or mission. The Salvation Army is known for its Christmas Kettle street campaign. The Susan G. Komen organization is known for its Race for the Cure. Girl Scouts of the USA is known for its cookies. And Garland County Habitat for Humanity is known for its mission to provide durable housing to those in need.
At any given time during the year, Habitat has three to four houses under various stages of construction and, according to Cindy Wagstaff, executive director of Garland County Habitat, they do approximately eight $65,000-70,000 projects per year.
Garland County Habitat will hold its third annual Women’s Build event this year May 16-20, and volunteers will have the opportunity to help build not one, but two houses for two families in need over the span of those five days.
Families go through an application process before being considered to be chosen for a house. A committee evaluates each family based on their need of housing, their ability to repay the mortgage and their willingness to partner with others.
“These families are not only helping to build their own house but they’re also going through financial literacy classes, home maintenance classes, all of that, so they’re working very hard,” Wagstaff said.
Wagstaff said that because the event was so well received the first two years, they decided to expand it to two houses instead of one and five days instead of four.
“We chose a property that has two
lots side by side because we had so much interest last year. We’re able to build two houses side by side which allows us to double the capacity of volunteers, and then we went ahead and added an extra day so we’re able to accommodate 200 people this year,” she said.
Each day will begin at 8 a.m. and end at noon and is open to individuals 16 years old and older. Volunteers can pick which day they want to volunteer and lunch will be provided each day.
The foundation is being laid now and everything will be ready for the volunteers to frame the houses on the days of the event.
Never picked up a hammer a day in your life? Wagstaff said that is completely OK — a construction crew will be on site to train volunteers on the different tasks that will be performed.
“When the ladies come they need to be prepared for swinging a hammer and all kinds of things that go along with framing a house. And they’ll work alongside the families that have been chosen for the houses,” she added.
Lowe’s Home Improvement “has jumped in with both feet,” Wagstaff said, and is providing everything (hard hats, nail aprons, work gloves, etc.) that the volunteers will need to get the job done. She said volunteers don’t need to bring anything with them but must wear closed-toe shoes, long pants and shirts with sleeves.
“Construction is one of those things that you can’t necessarily put a very strict timeline on because of weather, but hopefully we get the houses framed, which is the real exciting part because that’s where you see the results of your work,” Wagstaff said. “It’s a big deal when we raise a wall, when we get one wall complete and we raise it all together. That’s a celebration.
“The Women’s Build event is significant for us because it has so many different facets. Obviously there are women in construction, which is a male-dominated industry, so it’s kind of an empowering event for all the women to come to. It provides a less-intimidating way to be involved with construction,” she said.
Wagstaff added that while Wom- en’s Build is designed to focus on the power of networking with women, it is not at all meant to exclude men. She said couples participated in last year’s event and that men are welcome to sign up to volunteer with their spouses.
“We also have mothers and daughters that sign up, multi-generations that come. You really get to see the impact and participate in having an impact. It can be life changing to see the impact that you have, and these two families that have been selected for these homes are just amazing families. They were approved at the end of the year last year, right around Christmas. They are just terribly excited about this,” said Wagstaff.
Once the houses are completed each volunteer will be invited back to attend the official dedication ceremony for the families.
“The work that Habitat does through the Women’s Build, and every other home that we build, is so very important to our community because it gives some people that might not otherwise be able to afford it decent and affordable housing,” said Mary Currey, who is on Garland County Habitat for Humanity’s board of directors. “I’m very proud of the work that Garland County Habitat for Humanity is doing for our community and I’m honored to play a very small role in its success.”
Because this particular Habitat event is a fundraiser, the cost per person to volunteer is $25. Each volunteer will receive a free lunch, T-shirt, nail apron and more.
Advance registration is required by calling 623-5600, visiting the Garland County Habitat for Humanity Facebook page, or by visiting http://www.garlandcountyhabitat. org or http://www.eventbrite.com.
LongHorn Steakhouse, Chickfil-A, Fat Jacks, The Hotel Hot Springs & Spa and ReMax of HSV will each provide lunch on their designated day of the week. Red Light Roastery and Kollective Coffee+Tea will provide coffee every morning. Other sponsors include Hot Springs Village and First Security Bank.
Volunteers working on a Habitat house.
ClockwiseW An inspirational message written on the frame of a Habitat home; Volunteers at a previous year’s Women’s Build event; Habitat for Humanity volunteers pose with tools during a build event.
A volunteer working on the frame of a house at a previous year’s Women’s Build event.