Women Building a Legacy

In one week, hundreds of women will build five Habitat for Humanity houses in one Denver neighborhood.

By Meghan Stromberg, Associate Editor | May 7, 2001

In honor of Mother's Day, women from all over the country and as far away as Northern Ireland will help future homeowners in Denver build their piece of the American dream.

Women Build

From May 5 through May 12, Habitat for Humanity International volunteers will build five homes in Denver's Montbello neighborhood. The weeklong "blitz build" kicks off Habitat's Women Building a Legacy campaign, which is committed to building at least 100 homes around the country by the end of 2002.

"What Women Build does is not only provide an opportunity for children and families [to have a decent place to live], but for women to live up to their full potential and show how much they care about leaving a legacy of giving for their own children," Jeri Huntley says. Huntley is the executive director of the Vinyl Siding Institute, which has provided more than $1.5 million in support of Habitat in the past six years. Huntley is also on the steering committee of Women Build and has participated in two dozen Habitat builds, including two Women Builds.

Volunteers from all walks of life will be joined by Colorado first lady Frances Owens and two other first ladies, Janet Huckabee of Arkansas and Frances Glendening of Maryland. Linda Fuller, who with her husband, Millard Fuller, began Habitat for Humanity as an ecumenical ministry dedicated to eliminating poverty housing, will also participate in the build. During the past 25 yeas, Habitat and its affiliates in more than 2,000 communities in 76 nations have built and sold 100,000 homes to partner families with no-profit, zero-interest mortgages.

Although women make up 50% of Habitat volunteers, only 15% of them do construction work, often because of lack of training. Meanwhile, 47.5% of Habitat's homes are built for women heads of household.

More than 250 houses have been built in the United States by all-women Habitat crews including one in each state as part of the First Ladies Build initiative, in which former or current first ladies and women governors helped other volunteers build Habitat homes in state capitals last year.

The culmination of the Women Building a Legacy kickoff event takes place Saturday, May 12, when the five first-time homeowners, who will have contributed hours of "sweat equity," are presented with the keys to their new homes. Soon after the dedication, the families will be able to move into their new homes.