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Making it happen for Mom

Beginning on Sunday, Habitat for Humanity of Kitsap County will join a nationwide building effort as one of 150 Habitat affiliates receiving a $5,000 grant from Lowes.

The grant is part of National Women Build Week, which is a weeklong emphasis on celebrating not only the success of the program, but also the ccompassion, dedication, talents and abilities of women from all walks of life, said Habitat for Humanity of Kitsap County development associate Sheila Marie.

“The week leading up to Mother’s Day was selected for its significance to many volunteers, as families with children make up a staggering number of those in need of adequate housing: more than 12 million children — one in six — live in poverty housing in the United States alone,” Marie said.

“Women Build projects are affiliate specific, such as our first Kitsap County Habitat Women Build project that began in April, the beginning of what we plan to incorporate as an annual project in Kitsap County,” Marie said.

“Women Build projects are not about excluding men,” she explained. “They’re about including women so they can learn construction skills on a more inclusive construction site. While women make up over 50 percent of Habitat’s volunteer work force, only 15 percent are involved in construction.”

The intention with both National Women Build Week and site specific Women Build projects is to encourage and empower women to take action, she said.

“Women have the capability and determination necessary to build Habitat for Humanity houses, addressing the problem of substandard housing in a concrete way, so families have safe, decent and affordable homes,” she said. “More than 1,200 homes have already been built by women crews nationwide through Habitat for Humanity International’s Women Build program.”

The organization anticipates at least 20 local volunteers on Sunday, from throughout Kitsap County, she said.

“Diana Kirby and Portia Santos, the recipients of the duplexes in Building 2 where we will be working, will also be with us on Sunday,” she said. “More than half of the participants are part of ‘Amy’s Army’, women gathered by Miss Poulsbo 2008 Amy Stadshaug to build together in support of National Women Build Week and women volunteers in construction.”

Throughout the week crews will be working on door and window frames and wall framing on New Hope Building 2, she said.

“Every day’s efforts make a difference, and May 4 is no exception,” she said. “Habitat’s goal is to build both homes and communities, so the relationships that develop as partner families, individuals and groups come together to build and learn is as important as the completion of the homes themselves.”

For Stadshaug the week has some added appeal, Marie said.

“Working on a Women Build was one of the most empowering experiences of my life.” Stadshaug said. “The opportunity to be a part of a Women Build in my very own community, one that I’ve seen grow from just a mere idea a few years ago to become a reality today is exciting. I have a unique opportunity as Miss Poulsbo to share my experience and inspire others to join with the women in our community to work on Kitsap County Habitat’s Women Build.”

There have been countless requests from the Miss Poulsbo/Miss Kitsap committee members, friends, family, community leaders and even other local titleholders to volunteer for the Women Build long before work got underway, she said.

“All of these women who are excited to volunteer have fondly become known as ‘Amy’s Army,’ and I am eager to get a group out on the job site,” she said. “With the help of the Women Build Committee and volunteers I would like to host a work day in which I will invite local titleholders and others to participate.”

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