Habitat Taps a New Resource

When Door County Habitat for Humanity (DCHFH) embarked on an effort to build more homes each year in the spring of 2008, they realized they would need to expand their volunteer base. The organization turned to a previously underutilized resource – women.

DCHFH started the wheels turning on a Women’s Build project in spring 2008.

“We held an informational meeting at Bay View Lutheran Church last fall, and had about 20 to 30 women come,” Habitat Director Rick Nelson said. “We decided that if we could get that many people interested in coming to a meeting, we would go ahead and organize a Women’s Build.”

A small group of women began meeting monthly to get the project off the ground. They decided early on that training was needed to entice women into the project and give participants a level of comfort in using the tools necessary to construct a house. Weekly training sessions commenced in February and an average of 25 women and a few men showed up to the Door County Economic Development Center ready to learn the basics of building a house.

“I’ve always been interested in carpentry, but never had the opportunity to learn from anybody,” said Suzi Hass, who attended the Women’s Build training sessions. “I was reading books to decide if I could tackle remodeling my basement on my own when a friend told me about the Women’s Build. The instructors taught us about correct measuring and terminology, so that if we’re on the job site and someone sends us to fetch something, we know what to get.

“This is something I can do that doesn’t interfere with my job as a photographer,” Hass said, “and I feel like I’m helping the community.”

The time has now arrived for the women to put their training into practice. May 2 was designated as the Door County Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build day, and the week is dedicated as Women Build week.

“We want women to come that day to contribute to the construction of that house,” Nelson said. “We need 75 percent of the work crew that day to be women. On a national level, the goal of Women Build is to build a complete home with primarily women involved. We’re a small community, and it’s a new venture, so we don’t think we’re ready to build a complete home.”

The cost to Habitat to build an entire house is $80,000 to $90,000. Door County Habitat has been building three homes each year, Nelson said. The Women Build group will raise funds through various activities to support the third Habitat home in 2009.

Attention All Women!

If you’re not afraid of a little dirt or perspiration, join the first Door County Habitat for Humanity’s Women’s Build Day May 2, from 8 am – 3 pm. For more information call the Habitat office at 920.743.2869 or email [email protected].