Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Women Find Empowerment Building Homes for Others

Lacey Moss' home built by Habitat for Humanity
Photo Credit: Lacey Moss
Have you ever tried doing something you're not good at for the sake of helping others? Have you ever found new strength learning a new skill? A reader of my blog recently reached out to tell me about National Women's Build Week, a Habitat for Humanity program bringing a sense of empowerment to both moms and daughters who participate and the families their work benefits.

National Women Build week is a partnership between Habitat for Humanity and Lowe's. From April 30 to May 8, the program brought together more than 17,000 women to build or repair homes alongside 650 families. Two of these women were Lacey Moss and her mother.

Lacey Moss on a home build site
Photo Credit: Lacey Moss
Lacey Moss is a Habitat homeowner in Evansville, IN whose house was dedicated last August of 2015. When construction began on her home in May 2015 it was kicked off during National Women Build Week. Fifty women were involved in the kickoff and worked on the crawlspace of her home. She was so moved by the efforts of others that she volunteered and traveled to Guatemala this past February to "pay it forward" to another homeowner. To her surprise, her trip fee and airfare was sponsored by an anonymous board member! Now, this year, Lacey and her mom are leading the Women Build planning committee for the builds in her neighborhood.

Why are women like Lacey and her mom jumping up to grab their tool belts to help others? I'm certain it has a lot to do with social volunteerism. When we see that a cause is important and that we can do it with others while feeling great about ourselves, it becomes a very attractive activity! I believe moms especially can relate to the need to get a family into a real, functioning, owned home. The feeling of dignity, stability, and empowerment that is associated with home ownership is a powerful asset to families in need. Of course, Habitat for Humanity knows this well as evidenced by their words, "Through shelter, we empower." I just never really thought of that as meaning empowerment of volunteers, too!

In a new survey conducted by Lightspeed GMI Research, 87% of women surveyed said they enjoy volunteer work that teaches them a new skill. However, 75% said they avoid construction-related volunteering because they feel they lack the skills. (I, myself, fall in with that last group as well) National Women's Build week helps to fill a gap and help women like me jump in to help in a way that might normally be intimidating to us. Women who participate in builds bring home skills they can use in their own houses. Even for the 25% of women show feel that they already have construction skills, there is always something new to learn on a build site and helping others to learn can be an incredibly rewarding experience.

Lacey Moss and others on a build in Guatemala
Photo Credit: Lacey Moss
"Throughout the week, Lowe's and Habitat for Humanity teach women volunteers the necessary construction skills through how-to clinics and empower them to use those new skills while working alongside Habitat families," said Erin Sellman, Lowe's senior vice president of strategy, insights and planning. "It is powerful to see women from Lowe's and communities rally together in an effort that brings us more than three-quarters of the way toward reaching our commitment to build or repair homes with 1,000 families, getting them into a safe and stable home in time for the holidays."

This year, the week was launched with 10 Girls' Night out events in regions across the U.S.: Atlanta, Austin, Cincinnati, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Indianapolis, Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, Philadelphia, Raleigh-Durham, San Diego and Seattle-Tacoma.

Want to get involved next year? For more information on Habitat for Humanity's Women Build program and to learn about Women Build projects in communities across the U.S., visit Habitat.orb/wb or the National Women Build Week tab on Facebook.