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Saturday, June 30, 2018

Habitat for Humanity Women's Build

This spring, a group of cool ladies (most of them running friends) and I got together to build two houses for women in our community. This women-building-for-women idea came from Habitat for Humanity's Women Build, and since one of our running friends Avery is Assistant Director of Advancement at the New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity, we were eager to help out.
This was the first time I had worked on a Habitat house, so the extent of the process surprised me. First, we needed to name our team, and of course the puns started flying. We ended up choosing "The Tool Chests", for which I designed this awesome T-shirt art:
Before adding "Tool Chests" script

Of course that was fun, but the reality of being on a team is more than just cool shirts and punny names. We had to fundraise, and fundraise hard! Luckily, I called in some favors from some drug reps I know, and we ended up exceeding our $350 per person goal by early spring. The date for the build was mid-May.

I wasn't sure how long these houses take to build, but Avery explained that team size had a lot to do with it. Her job includes trying to figure out the timing to make sure just enough teams are scheduled. Our team was pretty small, but we partnered with some other volunteers. There were actually three or four groups out there, as we were building two homes side by side. On the day we were scheduled, the house had been partly framed, and we were finishing framing (including all of the inside) and nailing plywood to the outside of the house.

We worked for eight hours, with two snack breaks and a lunch break, and I kind of thought we didn't get much done! I was very surprised to see that we were give hammers rather than nail guns, and obviously manually hammering in nails takes a really long time. It wasn't like it was a safety concern, either - we were cheerfully operating a circular saw unattended and climbing up rickety ladders all day, so a nail gun couldn't be that much more dangerous. Actually, I was pretty surprised by the amount of freedom we had - some of it misplaced, since we had no idea what we were doing (I still hope that the lady in the house on the right doesn't slam her closet door too hard). However, talking to Avery, I learned that their houses pass inspection at the same rate as the national average, so I guess it's not all sideways nails and sketchy measurements. And in the end, Women Build completed two houses side by side for two women who are cousins! So that's pretty cool!

I would absolutely do another Habitat build, although a fall or winter date would be nice for next time (it was sweltering hot in the sun the day we built). And I'd definitely do another one with this awesome team of ladies!


  1. This is so cool. And I LOVE your team name and t-shirt!

  2. Those shirts are amazing!! I have volunteered with Habitat for humanity twice. Once it was super early in the process and we helped with the foundation. The other time the house was almost done so we were doing finishing touches like painting the door. I would definitely volunteer again!