By Julia Brauchle
Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity Staff
April 30th-May 8th was a special week at Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity (TCHFH), as we celebrated the 9th annual National Women Build Week. Each year, with the support of Lowe’s Home Improvement stores, Women Build volunteers complete an A Brush With Kindness (ABWK) home repair project in the week leading up to Mother’s Day.
This year, Women Build and ABWK partnered with a very special mother to scrape and paint her house and garage. Michelle is a single mother of two daughters and was recently awarded full custody of her four-year-old grandson. She works and goes to school full time to earn her Bachelor’s degree in health care management. “I go to school in the evenings full time so that I can get a better job to take care of the kids”, says Michelle.
Currently living paycheck to paycheck to support her family, Michelle did not have extra money to do the needed repairs on her home. During the National Women Build Week program on Friday, May 6th, Michelle told the touching story of how she learned about Habitat’s ABWK program. While walking her dog one morning, she ran in to an older couple from the neighborhood that she had never met before. After sharing stories about their homes, families and their time living in St. Paul, the couple told Michelle about a great program that could help her paint and repair the exterior of her home. On Friday morning, Michelle said ABWK and the volunteers that helped throughout the week, “the best Mother’s Day gift I have ever gotten”.
We also heard from other speakers on Friday morning. Barb Stahl, a representative from Lowe’s the national sponsor of National Women Build week, told the crowd about the 300 Habitat affiliates and 17,000 women volunteers that were also building and repairing homes last week. Lowe’s donated $2 million nationwide to support the week’s projects.
Deputy Mayor of St. Paul Kristin Beckmann also stopped by. Kristin thanked Michelle for living in St. Paul and spoke about the strength and stability that homeowners like Michelle bring to the community.
President and CEO of TCHFH Sue Haigh thanked the volunteers and Lowe’s for their support. She also talked about the many ways that Habitat engages and empowers women. On top of the women that volunteer on site every day, women participate in Global Village trips to Costa Rica and Ethiopia, serve on the Board of Directors, and attend Women of Habitat events like the annual Hope Builders luncheon. Almost all of our Habitat partner families that purchase homes from Habitat include women and girls, and ABWK routinely partners with single mothers and women heads of households.
National Women Build Week was the perfect way to kick off the summer build season, as we look forward to starting the 26th Women Build home on June 6th. Will we see you on site this summer- sign up to volunteer here!
Thank you to all of the volunteers from Lowe’s, Wells Fargo, Valspar, St. Kate’s and the community that came out to site during National Women Build Week. This week would not have been possible without you.