AP NEWS

Building with Habitat for Humanity empowering for women

May 5, 2019

So many times, it seems, when we help others, we also help ourselves.

That’s definitely the case for those who volunteer to build houses with Habitat for Humanity, according to Lindsay Hannah, the nonprofit’s local development director.

Women, especially, leave job sites feeling more confident, more capable of tackling do-it-yourself projects in their own homes, she said.

Hannah was at a construction site early Saturday morning as a crew of about a dozen female volunteers from the Do it Best corporate headquarters joined half a dozen male crew leaders to start framing a house in Fuller’s Landing near West Cook and Huguenard roads.

“It’s really a powerful campaign,” Hannah said of the focus on female crews, which started at the international level about 20 years ago. “We’re just women empowering women to get behind a cause, to say we can do construction as well. And it’s just exploded.”

About 450 volunteers are scheduled to work on the house during May, most of them women, she said. 

Habitat for Humanity is an international nonprofit that “brings people together to build homes, communities and hope,” according to its website. Its vision is: “A world where everyone has a decent place to live.”

The local organization’s goal is to build 10 to 12 homes each year in its territory of Allen, Wells and Huntington counties, Hannah said. The house started Saturday was No. 43 in the Fuller’s Landing addition. The group will kick off work on No. 44 in two weeks.

By building homes side-by-side in various stages, it allows crews to keep busy in rain and shine.

To receive a house, families must meet several criteria, including taking personal finance classes and building others’ houses. The process takes about three years. After moving in, they have to make interest-free mortgage payments : money used to build more homes.

The local waiting list includes 11 families. More than 1,500 additional families have asked for information about the program, Hannah said.

“I always say, Fort Wayne is an affordable place to live, but it’s obviously not affordable for everyone,” she said.

The home being framed Saturday will belong to the Kirk family. Roy and Cory Kirk, married for nine years, will live there with daughter, Sydney Johnson, 14.

All three were on site Saturday, hard hats on and ready to work.

“We’re very thankful for the people helping us,” Cory Kirk said, looking over her shoulder at the volunteers.

Leading up to Saturday, the Kirks had to make lots of decisions about fixtures and wall colors. They changed their minds on the exterior siding when they discovered several existing houses in the neighborhood are the same color. Their final decision for the four-bedroom ranch was mocha.

“I’m just really excited,” she said, “to see how it’s going to come together.”

sslater@jg.net