Women building community- one affordable home at a time
Learn all things Women Build- what it’s all about, the history and how to get involved to help us build another energy-efficient, affordable home in West Asheville.
Learn all things Women Build- what it’s all about, the history and how to get involved to help us build another energy-efficient, affordable home in West Asheville.
Following a successful virtual Spring Hike Series, Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity and Blue Ridge Hiking Company are excited to announce the fall version of Hike for Habitat: presented by Jennifer Pharr Davis– in-person guided hikes September 15-18 that will raise funds for Women Build. Habitat International’s Women Build program empowers women to build – and advocate for – affordable housing in their communities. To date, fifteen Women Build houses have been built in Buncombe County by Asheville Area Habitat, and another is now underway in Habitat’s New Heights neighborhood in West Asheville.
Hand-picked routes by Jennifer Pharr Davis, internationally recognized hiker, author, speaker, National Geographic Adventurer of the Year, and new appointee to the President’s Council of Sports, Fitness and Nutrition offer opportunities of various length, location, and ability. Hikes are available on September 15-18. All genders are welcome and the minimum suggested donation to participate is $250– 100% of which will go towards Asheville Habitat’s Women Build program. Participants can opt to make the donation via credit card or check, or crowd-fund to raise the funds. All participants will also be invited to a kick-off event on September 15th at Smokey Park Supper Club. To see hike options, what is included and how to register, visit: https://blueridgehikingco.com/overnights/hikeforhabitat.
Hiking helps improve mental and physical health. So does a healthy home. Asheville Habitat homes are Healthy Built, providing homeowners with ongoing comfort and safety. Adults and children who previously experienced respiratory disease due to mold and mildew, illness from lead exposure or toxic heat sources, and psychological disorders due to financial pressures, experience improved mental, physical and emotional health once the conditions of unhealthy, unsafe homes are eliminated. So, join Hike for Habitat to help yourself and a local family in need of a healthy, stable and affordable home.
Not interested in hiking, but want to support Women Build? Visit ashevillehabitat.org or click here to make a secure online donation now.
Working on the 15th Woman Build house has been a very different experience. When the house was started no volunteers were working due to Covid. By the time core volunteers were brought in most of the framing and roof work had been done. I remember the first day I returned to work and Emily asked me if I was OK with climbing in the rafters to do some bracing. Let’s see, I thought. I haven’t swung a hammer or climbed up in the rafters in many months. Plus seeing where to hammer or place my feet with a mask on and fogged up glasses was a challenge. But sure, why not? It took some time to get the hang of it but I did get some work done and didn’t plummet to the floor which I considered to be a good day.
Over the past few months I have had the pleasure of doing a variety of jobs on this house. Insulation was put in during warmer days. The work itself isn’t bad. However, when dealing with insulation you either have to wear a protective suit to keep the insulation off your skin (which is a sweaty mess on a hot day) or take a cold shower upon
arrival at home to keep the insulation on your skin out of your pores. I haven’t decided which is the better (or worse) way to go.
I had one of my most successful experiences with stucco while working with fellow WOMBAT Terri Harris and our wonderful Americorps workers. We were able to get the front of the house and porch pillars done so that work could begin on the porch.
Other jobs I have done include flooring installation, painting, and work on the porch and porch roof. Of course there was also the obligatory building of scaffolding involved with the porch work. Some of these jobs are ones that I don’t typically enjoy. However, I was glad to be back on the job site working on the Woman Build House and didn’t mind the work I was doing.
There is still plenty of work to be done to finish the house before Ikia’s closing date in April. Good progress is being made towards this end. The work that has been done by the construction staff and core volunteers is amazing, especially considering the Covid precautions we take and the wonderful winter weather we have been experiencing. It is always an honor to work on the Woman Build House. I wish all the best to Ikia and her family as they live in their new home.
Head WOMBAT and Wednesday Core Volunteer
By Beth Russo
A lot changes in 25 years. Back in 1994, we were watching OJ Simpson in a white Bronco on CNN. Highland Brewery had just opened up in the basement of Barley’s
Pizza. And a group of women attorneys decided to sponsor the 1st Women Build house built by Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity.
In 1994, the home cost $40,000 to build, and Buncombe County Women Attorneys took the lead in raising funds and providing volunteers to construct this home.
When they were done, the first Women Build house became the Lopez house, home to four generations of women.
Today, local women are still struggling with housing challenges. Imagine living in a rental where the landlord refuses to address the rodent problem. Or fix a leaky water heater, leading to monthly bills of $400. Or having to move your 3 children into your bedroom, to reduce their exposure to black mold.
This is the situation that Quintania Gregg found herself in. Employed full time with CarePartners, this mother of 3 children felt stuck with living in a substandard home because finding another apartment with a monthly rent that she could manage was almost impossible.
She applied for Habitat homeownership, and was approved to purchase Women Build House #14.
Once again, the Buncombe County Women Attorneys stepped up to be part of the solution to her affordable housing crisis. They’ve committed to raising $10,000 to support the construction of this home.
A few weeks ago, they gathered at The Rustic Grape, a women-owned wine bar in downtown Asheville. After conversation and beverages, the attorneys met Quintania and heard her story. A few days later, construction started on the 14th Women Build house – and the future home of the Gregg family.
The BCWA are in process of raising funds, and look forward to a volunteer day on the site in June. Attorney Susan Russo-Klein of Roberts & Stevens says, “Buncombe County Women Attorneys are proud to support the wonderful work Asheville Habitat for Humanity does to provide affordable housing to families in our community.”
The 14th Women Build home will be completed near the end of 2019. Quintania looks forward to the day she closes and receives her keys, and is grateful to be partnered with women who care deeply about the housing problem in our community. Thank you Buncombe County Women Attorneys and The Rustic Grape!
By Sydney Monshaw
Tuton Hall at Trinity Episcopal Church certainly was rockin’ on Saturday, March 23rd in celebration of Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity’s 14th Women Build House! In it’s third year, Rock The House provided a great opportunity to dance, sing, donate, and celebrate. This year’s Women Build House, of which the footers were poured last month, is financially supported thanks to this event and many generous sponsors and donors— and that is truly something to sing about!
For the last three years, the WomBATs (Women Build Advocacy Team) have thrown this event full of joy and love to fundraise for the Women Build House and celebrate the future homebuyer. There is live music provided by The Flashbacks, a group whose repertoire includes all of the fun classics that get folks out on the dance floor within the first few bars. There is delicious food, catered by Habitat’s own Alice Donnelly, which this year featured an antipasto bar, pulled pork sandwiches, and drool-worthy veggie sliders. And, two free drinks are provided thanks to generously donated wine from The Biltmore Company and beer from Catawba Brewing Co.
When the music starts, energy of fellowship and generosity fills Rock the House, in whatever space it’s in, to every nook and cranny. No matter where the event takes place – the warehouse at the Habitat office in 2017, The Crest Center in 2018, or Tuton Hall this year – the fun and excitement are rockin’ and the gifts for the Women Build House are incredible. This year the WomBATs calculated nearly $7,000 in donations from the one night event. With just over one hundred attendees, this number proves the generosity of those involved. With those contributions, the 2019 Women Build House is now within $10,000 of being fully funded. If you would like to help get us to the finish line, please click here to donate now.
This year’s build will officially begin on Tuesday, May 7th , with the construction of a townhome in our Curry Court neighborhood in Candler! This is a fantastic opportunity for new volunteers, especially women, to feel empowered on a construction site and supported in learning a host of useful skills. If you enjoyed Rock the House and the energy of the WomBATs, you will love building alongside them and the incredible staff at Habitat.
Click here to see a few photos from the event.
To stay up to date on Women Build and Asheville Habitat in general, be sure to follow us on facebook and Instagram, check out website regularly, and subscribe to our e-newsletters. Thank you!
By Betsy Warren
Question: What time is it when power tools, social justice, hands-on activism, dancing, laughing, learning, and hundreds of Buncombe County women come together?Answer: It’s time for Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity’s WOMEN BUILD!!!
By Ariane Kjellquist
Women in Construction. While it is no longer an anomaly, it is far from the norm. According to the National Home Builders Association, “the share of women in the construction industry is currently at 9 percent, although women make up almost half—47 percent—of the total working population.”
Bucking this national trend is Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity where women make up more than 50% of the organization’s Construction staff, the Construction Manager is a woman, and women work in diverse Construction positions including new construction, home repair, volunteer coordination, and construction administration. Furthermore, an annual Women Build led by a team of volunteers affectionately known as the “WomBATs” (Women Build Advocacy Team) recruits hundreds of female volunteers to help build—and raises $55,000 to build the house. Construction will begin on Asheville Habitat’s 14th Women Build House on May 7.
Asheville Habitat also has a number of women “core” construction volunteers, those who volunteer on a weekly or bi-monthly basis. One such volunteer is Melissa Banks, who brought a team of volunteers to Asheville in 2016 to work on the Women Build House, and soon thereafter relocated to Asheville. She is now a core construction volunteer, a “WomBAT”, a member of both the Global Engagement Committee and Community Engagement Committee, a Global Village Trip leader, weekly ReStore volunteer, donor and advocate!
On the staffing side, Construction Manager Robin Clark previously owned her own construction company, and worked with Asheville Habitat as a sub-contractor during the annual Women Build. She joined Asheville Habitat as a full-time staffer in 2010, and was promoted to manager in 2016.
AmeriCorps members are invaluable, especially to the Home Repair program. Second year AmeriCorps member Sydney Monshaw and first year member Nora Gilmer, both “WomBATs”, work on “Aging in Place”, a subset of the Home Repair program. The work is often anything but glamorous, but its importance is paramount enabling elders to stay in their own homes longer and live more safely and comfortably as they age. Sydney stated, “I love being a woman in construction and especially as part of a team like ours. These women – employees, volunteers, and WomBATs- are forces to be reckoned with, and it fills me up with strength and hope to fight for affordable housing alongside them!”
Asheville Habitat’s executive director Andy Barnett added, “Women bear the brunt of our housing crisis. I am proud that at Habitat women lead in the solutions, from the construction site to the board room. I hope our story of gender equity in the construction industry inspires others, locally and nationally.”
See/hear this story in the press!
Capital at Play
AVL Today (DYK)
ashevillefm (March 6, Slumber Party)
Women Build House #13 officially began construction April 17, and since then Asheville Habitat has seen numerous dedicated groups of sponsors out at the jobsite in Arden lending a hand. There may have been a lot of rain, but that didn’t put a damper on the volunteers or the house progress. Volunteers worked diligently, under the watchful eye of Construction Supervisor John Meadows, to build frames for the walls and raise them. Several Blueprint Sponsors were present at the jobsite- WomBATS kicked-off the build and this week the Fiji Hammerheads, Peggy Crowe Realtor, and the Wild Bodemas all spent a day working together on Ashley Blankenship‘s future home.
For the 11th year, Habitat for Humanity and Lowe’s are engaging women nationwide to work together to build Habitat homes during this year’s National Women Build Week from May 5-13, 2018. On Friday, May 11th Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity and Lowe’s hosted a special volunteer work day where Women Build and Lowe’s volunteers worked alongside future homeowner Ashley Blankenship on Women Build House #13 and then celebrated together with a potluck lunch and a home dedication. Renowned cookbook author and homesteader Ashley English of Small Measure joined and talked about the importance of community and home.
To see a WLOS clip, click here.
Click here to view a photo gallery from the event!
Just about everyone in Asheville knows how serious of a problem affordable housing is, but probably no one understands it better than our local realtors. For the month of August volunteers from Town and Mountain Realty, Candy Whitt and Associates, and Peggy Crowe Realtor, Coldwell Banker King came out to lend a hand with our new home construction at our Shiloh and Arden job sites. In addition to volunteering, these three realty firms are also proud Blueprint Sponsors ($1,000 +)!
“It’s important for local realtors to get involved with Habitat because we make a living off of housing. These (Habitat homeowner) families are so important; they are the heart of our community. Without Asheville Habitat, they would not be buying because Asheville’s affordable housing market is woefully pitiful,” Candy Whitt, of Candy Whitt and Associates said.
For Peggy Crowe, Habitat’s mission is one that resonates with her deeply and even affects the way she does business. For every sale, she donates a portion of that to Asheville Habitat’s Women Build House! In addition, Crowe is in her third year as a Blueprint Sponsor.
Also in August, was the closing of a Habitat home sponsored by the Rusty Pulliam Foundation and the Land of Sky Association of Realtors, located in Shiloh’s McKinley neighborhood. For $40 more a month than the Fulga-Caburgan family paid for rent, they purchased this four-bedroom/two-bath home allowing their three boys and two-month old girl space to live and thrive!
These agencies are just a few of many local realtors that volunteer time, funds, or both throughout the years to support Asheville Habitat. With each dollar donated and volunteer hour contributed, our local realtors are making a lasting impact on affordable housing around Buncombe County and Asheville. We feel proud to know that those selling homes here believe in our vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to live. Thank you!
By Madeline McIntyre
This week, we are saying thanks to Melissa Banks (pictured center in green shirt, and L and R), who recently led a Global Village (GV) trip to Asheville as a part of Habitat for Humanity International’s National Women Build Week. Melissa had already participated in four Global Village trips when she decided to become a trip leader. Lucky for us, her first trip in the leadership position, was to Asheville.
Melissa is from Maryland, where she had previously been involved with her local affiliate’s Women Build (WB) House. She volunteered on the WB House there, but that wasn’t quite enough for Melissa. So, when she was asked to lead a Women Build GV trip, she jumped at the opportunity. “It was nice having a group of women working together,” she said. “You know, women power!”
Global Village trips are the definition of a working vacation. The groups spend their days volunteering on the job site, and they have evenings to explore all the area has to offer. But you can’t just show up and expect a spot on these trips. Those interested must apply and be able to secure funding to cover expenses and a donation towards the house in which they will be pouring hours of work and sweat. “That’s always amazing to me,” Melissa said of the Global Village model. “People are willing to spend money to come and work incredibly hard. And it’s so worth it.”
Since the trip centered on Women Build, there was an incredibly high number of female applicants. Out of 30 applications, only 5 were from males. She credits this to the comfortable environment that Women Build offers, especially for those who are not experienced in construction. Women Build is a great way to learn new skills, or hone existing ones.
“I was really surprised that quite a few members of my team were between age 20 and 30,” Melissa said. “It was wonderful to see so many young women taking an interest in being on a job site!”
When asked the best way to describe the unique experience of Women Build, she could only come up with two words: generosity and compassion. “I keep using generosity and compassion, but those are the two words that kept coming up for me all week long,” Melissa said. “It was just incredible.”
That generosity and compassion created a camaraderie that bound her team together. “It was such a full commitment,” Melissa says of her group. “We came as strangers that first day, and by the last day, we were a family. Everyone just bonded together.”
Her team has already stated that they want to follow Melissa wherever she goes next, and that enthusiasm has her considering leading another Women Build trip. “I would like to see Global Village put more focus on Women Build and build it up more,” Melissa said. “It’s such an awesome experience, and I think getting it out more to the public and having people better understand it, would be great.”
Melissa didn’t immediately head back home though, and she continues to practice generosity and compassion by volunteering at the Women Build House during her extended stay in Asheville.
Melissa, Thank You for your leadership, enthusiasm and commitment to Habitat for Humanity, in Buncombe County and around the world!
If you are interested in learning more about Women Build, please visit our WB blog.
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