As Mother's Day approaches, Habitat for Humanity and Lowe's are offering female volunteers across the nation a chance to help other mothers while honoring their own. From May 5-13, close to 10,000 women will come out to Habitat for Humanity's sites for National Women Build Week to create affordable housing for those who need it in all 50 states. According to the Census Bureau, one in every six children in the U.S. (over 12 million kids) live in poverty, and many of them live in a home where a woman is the head of the household. If you're not afraid to roll up your sleeves, pick up a hammer and put some elbow grease in to help some folks who really needs homes, we encourage you to take part in this incredibly meaningful national event. We recently had the chance to talk to Lisa Marie Nickerson, the Associate Director of Women Build about the event and how just a little time contribution on your part can make a world of difference for a single mom or someone else who could really use it.
INHABITAT: Can you tell us a little bit about National Women Build Week and what prompted Habitat for Humanity to start the event five years ago?
Lisa Marie: Habitat’s Women Build and Lowe’s established National Women Build Week in 2008 to challenge women to devote at least one day of service to create affordable housing. Every year for the last five years, thousands of women have volunteered in the week leading up to Mother’s Day to build and advocate for simple, decent and affordable homes.
INHABITAT: The event takes place around Mother’s Day and helps single mothers across the nation. How dire is the housing situation for single mothers in the U.S. and how many houses do you plan to build during National Women Build Week for these courageous moms?
Lisa Marie: In the U.S. we estimate 70 percent of Habitat for Humanity households are headed by women, but National Women Build Week engages women volunteers to build in partnership with any Habitat partner homeowners, whether they are single-mothers, single-fathers or couples. Globally, 1.6 billion people live in substandard housing. In the United States, more than 44 million Americans are spending more than 50 percent of their income on housing. A recent study conducted by the University of Southern Indiana, sponsored by the Whirlpool Corporation and Women Build, noted that homeowners experienced a 91 percent improvement in their family’s quality of life since becoming homeowners. Habitat homebuyers help to build their home or the homes of others process as part of their sweat equity, learning new skills in the process. According to the University of Southern Indiana study, Habitat homeowners reported a 97 percent favorable build experience. This year, Lowe’s is sponsoring 275 builds, in all 50 states across the United States.
INHABITAT: How can women who want to help get involved with National Women Build Week?
Lisa Marie: Volunteers can locate a build near them by visiting www.womenbuild.org and click on the link to “Find Women Build Events”
INHABITAT: Do volunteers have to have any special skills before coming to a build site?
Lisa Marie: Habitat’s Women Build welcomes volunteers at all skill level. Volunteers will learn new skills on the build site and can also participate in the Lowe’s Women Build How-To Clinics.
INHABITAT: What are some of the skills women can take away after they leave a build site?
Lisa Marie: The build sites across the United States are diverse and include new construction, repairs and rehabilitations. Volunteers can expect to learn skills ranging from painting, framing, use of power tools, and hanging drywall.
INHABITAT: Will Habitat for Humanity be using sustainable materials/practices during National Women Build Week?
Lisa Marie: Construction practices and materials used on Habitat construction sites vary by affiliate.
INHABITAT: How are the build sites chosen?
Lisa Marie: Habitat’s National Women Build Week affiliates were selected based on a variety of factors, including their ability to host a build day and prior participation. Lowe’s has provided $1.3 million to grant $5,000 to 275 participating Habitat affiliates.
INHABITAT: We know this is a women’s event but are men also allowed to volunteer for National Women Build Week?
Lisa Marie: Habitat’s Women Build is not about excluding men, but about including women so that they can learn construction skills on a more inclusive construction site. Men will also volunteer as part of National Women Build Week, but expect to see crews comprised of about 75 percent women volunteers. To date, women volunteers have helped construct more than 1,900 Habitat houses nationwide through the Women Build Week program. If you’re interested in giving just a day of your time to participate in this literally life-changing event, please click the link below! + Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build Week