March 11, 2020 – Florence Habitat did more than reference iconic Rosie the Riveter and her can-do attitude at the 2020 Women Build on International Women’s Day last Sunday.
“We want to call ‘We Can Build It!’ — similar to Rosie the Riveter’s ‘We Can Do It!’ motto,” said Habitat Executive Director Janell Morgan. “Because we did it! We built something in just one day.”
For the first time, Florence participated in the Habitat for Humanity Women Build Day, which started internationally in 1991.
“This year, we thought it would be a great thing to participate in,” Morgan added. “We wanted to bring women together to teach them how to build.”
More than 60 women, plus a couple men, attended Women Build in Florence. They met at Habitat’s newest project, a two-story remodel for which Habitat just secured building permits.
“So many people are intimidated by the chance to volunteer with us. They think because they don’t know how to drill or fix something that they can’t help,” Morgan said. “But we want people to come learn construction skills with us.”
On Sunday, women got hands-on experience with hammers, cordless drills, circular saws, measuring tapes and paintbrushes. They worked to give everyone a chance at working with the tools and getting a little dirty. Participants’ ages ranged from a Siuslaw Elementary student to high school students — including 2019 Future First Citizen Tiffany Hine and Rhododendron Senior Princess Madelynn Levi — businesswomen to retirees and people of every age.
Participants worked on two projects throughout the day. First, constructing a playhouse, and second, putting together a giant Adirondack chair.
“Every Habitat affiliation does their own thing on Women Build Day,” Morgan said. “Since we just got our building permits, we couldn’t have the women work on the house.”
The playhouse will be part of Habitat’s annual float in the Rhododendron Festival’s Grand Floral Parade on Sunday, May 17. It will also be raffled off, with tickets available in April and May.
People also got the chance to leave their mark on the Habitat house’s remodel by writing messages on 2x4 boards that will be used to enclose the property’s open garage. These “Blessing Boards” sported positive messages that will bless the family who will take ownership.
“Women Helping women!”
“Dream the impossible dream.”
“Good things happen to good families. Bless your new home and the family that occupies it.”
“These walls were built with love. Always fill them with love and laughter.”
“You made it! New home, lots of love, strong community. Welcome home.”
Habitat has already selected the family that will buy the home and work to add “sweat equity.”
“Habitat works to bring in affordable housing to address our housing crisis,” Morgan said. “We don’t ‘give away’ homes, as people sometimes say. We sell the homes to our families at fair market value and work with them to structure a 30-year mortgage at an affordable rate.”
The home itself is a “recycled” Habitat house that Habitat repurchased after the initial homeowners moved out of the area.
“We’re going in and refreshing it,” Morgan said.
That will mean new paint and cabinets, updating the front- and backyards, repairing the fence, changing the lighting, enclosing the garage and adding a garage door, and installing new appliances donated by Whirlpool.
“It will be pretty cute by the time we’re done,” Morgan said.
In addition, the people who participated in Women Build will be invited to come back, along with any others who want to learn some skills and give back to their community. Florence Habitat wants to engage people who want to learn how to build by hosting project-specific volunteer days.
“There are specific home ownership skills that you just need to have,” Morgan said.
She listed things like painting, installing a faucet, repairing drywall and other household maintenance activities.
“You shouldn’t need to call a plumber for something small that you can learn how to do yourself,” she said.
Some of these volunteer days will take place at current project sites, but some will also be through workshops held at Florence Habitat ReStore, 2016 Highway 101.
“Now we know how much people want to do this,” Morgan said. “We’re going to do Women Build every year, and with different projects each time. If we’re building a house or doing more repairs, people will get to take part.”
She said the event will now be a permanent part of Habitat’s calendar.
“Thank you so much to everyone who came out and made this happen,” Morgan said. “It was so great to see so many people support Habitat for Humanity in this community.”
Coldwell Banker Coast Real Estate and Florence Delta Gamma sponsored Women Build Day with financial donations to cover the costs of the event.
For more information about Florence Habitat for Humanity, stop by the ReStore or go to www.florencehabitat.org.