As families prepare to celebrate the women in their life for Mother’s Day, Habitat for Humanity will be holding its annual National Women Build Week, an event that calls on women to devote at least one day to creating simple, decent and affordable housing in their communities. This year’s event, held May 3 – 11 at construction sites across the country, will mobilize more than 13,000 women to help improve their local communities.
Now in its seventh year, National Women Build Week helps to address the pressing need of providing adequate housing for families with children. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 16 million children are living in poverty in the United States with nearly half of these children residing with women heads-of-household. Since 1998, Habitat’s Women Build Program has created more than 2,200 Habitat for Humanity Women Build houses in partnership with low-income families to help solve these issues.
To learn about this, we chatted with Lisa Marie Nickerson, Associate Director, Women Build, Habitat for Humanity International, about empowering women through the Women Build program and the critical need for affordable housing.
Momtrends: How can women improve their local communities?
Lisa Marie Nickerson: One of the goals of National Women Build Week is to raise awareness of the homeownership challenges faced by women. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are more than 16.1 million children living in poverty. Furthermore, nearly 24 percent of children reside with women heads-of-household. We hold this event in the week leading up to Mother’s Day to encourage women and their families to devote at least one day to help build affordable housing in their local communities to help address these issues.
Women have the capability and determination necessary to build Habitat for Humanity houses, addressing the problem of substandard housing in a concrete way so that families have safe, decent and affordable homes.
Momtrends: How can National Women Build Week help with that?
Lisa Marie Nickerson: Habitat for Humanity has partnered with Lowe’s to recruit, educate, and inspire women to build and advocate for simple, decent, and affordable homes. This will be the seventh year that we’ve held National Women Build Week and we continue to see scores of women coming together to make a big difference in their communities. So far, we’ve built more than 2,200 homes and more than 52,000 women from all 50 states have volunteered at our events.
Momtrends: How did the event start?
Lisa Marie Nickerson: Together, Lowe’s and Habitat for Humanity developed National Women Build Week as an initiative to raise awareness and increase involvement with the Women Build program. In its first year in 2008, a little more than 5,000 volunteers gathered in 150 communities. Since then, the number of homes built and communities impacted has increased along with the number of volunteers.
Momtrends: How can families connect with National Women Build Week to help them with their home building?
Lisa Marie Nickerson: Families that are in need of decent, affordable housing should contact their local Habitat for Humanity to apply. The local Habitat affiliate can explain the application process and provide information on the availability, size and cost of Habitat homes in their area. They can use Habitat’s online search tool to find the Habitat affiliate serving their area: (http://www.habitat.org/local/).
Momtrends: What other projects can women get involved with through National Women Build Week?
Lisa Marie Nickerson: There are more than 300 affiliates in the U.S. participating in this year’s National Women Build Week each with its own set of activities to help celebrate the event. For instance, South Shore Habitat for Humanity, near Boston, kicked off the build week with a gala and auction on May 3 featuring HGTV and Food Network design personality Taniya Nayak. Taniya will also join volunteers on May 9 to help build two homes in the community. On the other side of the country, Habitat for Humanity Greater Los Angeles will have a build event with actress and author Holly Robinson Peete and 50 volunteers to work on homes that are part of a seven home development in Los Angeles County. Other affiliates work with community leaders to bring together women volunteers to build or repair homes.
Our website has details on all the events happening throughout the U.S. for National Women Build Week. Even after the build week ends, Habitat affiliates offer Women Build events throughout the year. Those looking to volunteer can contact their local Habitat for Humanity for more information or visit: http://www.habitat.org/getinv/events/search/women-build.
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