Women Hammer Home Community Building Job
I had few conditions when I entered the housing market 15 years ago.
I know I wanted an older home - character! - but otherwise attached no particular value to number of bedrooms or layout. I was young and unmarried - and completely unprepared for what awaited.
House maintenance seemed a concept that began and ended at mowing the lawn. A hammer was for hanging pictures, and the claw end could open a beer bottle in a pinch.
In time, of course, I became painfully aware of my naivete and gross lack of skill with power tools. Taking on that bathroom remodel - it never was fully finished - wasn't such a good idea. Quickly, I learned the folly of attaching decorative molding to walls that long ago had settled out of plumb.
We all eventually reach our equilibrium, and mine settled somewhere between "OK with minor plumbing repair" and "reasonable with a pry bar." Anything requiring more ambition went undone. Sorry, unfinished bathroom and laundry room.
It wasn't for lack of encouragement from my wife, who was always urging me to take matters - and tools - in hand. Her sentences usually began with, "All you have to do is..." At which point, I'd ask her to go check out the crooked bathroom molding.
Maybe we had the roles wrong, and that she should have been the one to clip on the tool belt. That was certainly the case last weekend at the Lowe's on U.S. 15-501. The store, in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity of the N.C. Sandhills, held a clinic for women as a primer for the Women Build project later this summer.
On Sept. 8, a small army of women - men aren't excluded, but they shouldn't expect a pink-handled hammer, either - will gather in the Midway Gardens neighborhood of Aberdeen to build a 1,440-square-foot home for Victoria Lopez and her six children.
This is the fourth such Women Build project done locally in the past 25 years, and organizers are pretty excited about it. Of the more than 200 homes that have been built in that time, homes No. 18, 77 and 178 have been Women Build projects.
"It gives women a sense of pride in knowing their skills have done that kind of work," said Jana Green, Habitat's co-chairwoman for this year's project.
Judie Wiggins, the volunteer coordinator for Habitat, says the group has an $80,000 budget, a good bit of which will come from an Aug. 16 golf tournament fundraiser at Mid Pines.
A core group of women have spent two Saturdays at Lowe's for how-to clinics. Saturday, in the shadow of the store's front awning, about 30 women spread across several work stations to begin framing in and assembling an 8-by-8-foot shed to be auctioned off as a fundraiser.
A cacophony of hammers drowned out the gentle dribblings of the decorative fountain off to the side. Local builder Gary Robinson and several Lowe's team members walked around the stations to instruct, encourage and generally be impressed by the skills these women brought to the job site.
This crew spanned all ages and came wearing pedal pushers and tennis shoes rather than blue jeans and steel-toed boots. One team worked on the floor joists, while four others focused on the walls. Together, the teams tilted the walls up, nailing them all together and attaching them to the floor.
Toward the end of the workshop, several of the women were giving unsolicited advice to others about how to space their nails or grip their hammers.
The next session is going to be July 14 from 10 a.m. to noon and will entail roofing and vinyl siding for the shed. Habitat officials are hoping to work on the Lopez family's house every Thursday, Friday and Saturday after the September kickoff. It'll be a tight window to finish it by their goal of mid-December.
"Our site engineer is skeptical," Jana said, "but he doesn't know how women can get things done."
The women of Habitat already have one job site problem solved: the Porta-John. During the last build, the women were put off by the average construction-site portable unit.
The waste vendor agreed to rehab an older unit. They painted it pink, put on the Women Build logo, detailed some daises along the bottom, and installed a towel bar inside with pink and green towels and a pink waste basket.
"Then we put a lock on it so the men weren't allowed," Judie said with a laugh.
The old girl is coming out of retirement for this Women Build project again, this little piece of feminine styling dubbed the Porta-Jane.
Contact John Nagy at john@thepilot. com or (910) 693-2507.
More like this story