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Habitat for Humanity program helps women help women

By Staff | Apr 7, 2017

Habitat for Humanity is raising funds for its annual women-helping-women program.

Organized by the Habitat for Humanity of Lee and Hendry Counties, Women Build is an initiative aimed at engaging women in an effort to provide safe and decent residences for deserving families in need. This year, hundreds of volunteers will help three families rehab three homes over two weeks.

“Women Build is an opportunity for our local women to get directly involved in both funding and physically creating safe, decent and affordable housing for women,” Katherine “Kitty” Green, president and chief executive officer with Habitat for Humanity of Lee and Hendry Counties, said Thursday.

She explained that most low-income families are headed by women, while three-quarters of the families that the local Habitat for Humanity has assisted have been headed by single mothers.

“This is a way for women to get together and help women,” Green said of Women Build.

Marking its seventh year, the program has given a “hand up” to a dozen families over the years.

“It’s a hand up, not a hand out,” she said.

Green explained that the mothers work side-by-side with the volunteers to rehab their homes and that the home itself is not a handout. The women purchase their homes through an affordable mortgage.

This year, the three residences are in Cape Coral, Fort Myers and Harlem Heights.

Volunteers will be needed for the build dates, set for April 29 to May 12.

“We have hundreds of women that come out and help us,” she said.

“It’s really fun,” Green added. “They have a good time.”

The dedication of the homes will take place on May 13 – just before Mother’s Day.

Green explained that it costs $50,000 per home for the rehab. Local women, including sponsors and approximately 10 teams, have been working toward raising $150,000 for the three rehab projects.

“We have $26,000 left to raise by the end of the next week,” she said.

Once the funds are covered, Habitat will begin scheduling volunteers for the two-week rehab period. They will work Tuesday to Saturday in two shifts – from 8 a.m. to noon and from noon to 4 p.m.

“Since we are doing a home in almost every area of town, they can pick an area that’s most convenient for them,” Green said.

Volunteers do not need to have any construction experience.

“Anything that we ask them to do, we’ll show them how to do,” she said.

Green noted that it is not foundation-type work, more like painting and flooring.

“They can bring their friends and families,” she said.

Men are also welcome to participate.

“It’s just a women-led effort,” Green said.

Due to law, volunteers must be age 16 or older.

“We’ll have whatever supplies or tools they’ll need on site,” she said.

Chico’s is the title sponsor for this year’s event.

Over the last six years, 1,991 Women Build donors raised $667,604 for Habitat for Humanity of Lee and Hendry Counties, with 1,417 volunteers contributing 5,642 hours to rehab the 12 residences.

For more information, call 239-652-1673 or visit: www.habitat4humanity.org/.

“They can donate online, as well,” Green said.