SUFFOLK,Va. (WAVY)- Habitat for Humanity is empowering women and introduce them to careers in construction while also helping to build a home for one family.
It’s the second year of Women Build Week put on by Habitat for Humanity of South Hampton Roads.
The week aims to encourage and recruit women of all ages, backgrounds, and skills to build a home and introduce them to construction trades.
“All week we’ve had all women build with the exception of some men that are helping them build the house,” said project director Rainham Rowe.
Rowe has worked in construction for 15 years and has spent the last five years with Habitat for Humanity.
She says between 75-90% of the time, she’s the only woman at construction sites — and that’s why they’re having this week.
“I want to encourage women to come out on the build site. Variably, men push them aside and do all the work. We encourage women to come out to the site and build. Most of the trade people are aging out. Who better to fill than women? We pay more attention to detail than men and that makes us really good,” she said.
The home they’re building in Suffolk will take about three months to finish and when it’s done, Donica Miller and her family will move.
“I’m very happy. I’m so happy and when I’m crying it’s tears of joy that I can see the light at end of the tunnel,” she said. “I feel like homeownership is very important. When you have homeownership, it’s helpful for our children and youth and provides stability for them. I’m on the right path thanks to the assistance of Habitat for Humanity and the volunteers who made this possible.”
Miller says she found out about the organization while looking for home buyer’s programs. The registered nurse says student loan debt made it difficult to buy a home, but Habitat helped teach her the skills needed financially.
“The first word that comes to mind is “hope” … hope … and that I could provide a better life for my family. It means a lot and the tools Habitat taught me, I can teach my daughters in advance so they can get a head start that I didn’t necessarily have,” she said.
Miller’s daughter will be able to come out and volunteer at the home.
It’s inspiration that Danielle White, who is the project coordinator at Plasser American, says she can relate to.
“It’s bittersweet in a sense to see where Donica’s coming from. I can relate to some of those and to see her now, not with her experiences on her face but her blessings and lessons in the build, is incredible,” she said.
White says her team of volunteers from Plasser American helped put up the frame on the home and other projects.
The railway manufacturing business is celebrating it’s 60th anniversary. White says they’ll be looking to recruit and hire within Hampton Roads. That includes having more women join their company.
“We work in manufacturing where it’s predominately male, but women play a large part in the day-to-day in our office,” she said. “I wanted to show that women empower women and us showing support for a mother with daughters. We are full of energy, full of life, full of skills. We wanted to showcase and show the guys we got skills with the hammer too.”
Habitat for Humanity is also looking for sponsorships and volunteers. To learn more, click here.
Rowe says they are also starting a Women Build Club as an extension of Women Build Week.
Habitat for Humanity will also be holding a Frontline Workers Build Week in the fall.