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Women Build 2011 Columbia Heights home week 10

Work on the floors continued during week #10 with volunteers measuring, cutting, and installing long strips of wooden flooring. Some of the strips ran the length of the house and required careful handling and placement.

Since there was basically one thing going on as opposed to the usual half a dozen or more, I had a chance to talk to Anna who has been the Site Supervisor on both Women’s Build projects this summer. I wanted to find out how all the pieces of a build like this come together.  It turns out that it is the site supervisor’s job, one that requires planning just when each phase of the project will occur and what will be needed to complete that phase in terms of materials and people. It is the site supervisor who orders what is needed and sees that it is there at the right time. Then when all the materials and volunteers are on the site, it is Anna who tells people what needs to be done and how to do it.  Her gentle manner is very reassuring to volunteers who are a bit overwhelmed by new and strange tasks.  I asked how she learned to do all this. Starting with an Architecture degree from the University of Minnesota, Anna served as an AmeriCorps Member with Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity for two years before becoming a site supervisor. She also worked with another non-profit firm designing interiors. She’s looking forward to the next project, working on a “buy back house” originally built by Habitat and now being returned because its owners have gone on to another phase of life.

Veterans Day fell on Friday of week twelve and there were many women veterans among the volunteers. Trista (TCHFH’s Government Relations Senior Associate) was the group leader on the day I visited. She is a retired Commander who is now working on the Habitat for Humanity Veterans Initiative dealing with issues of homeownership, mortgage foreclosure prevention, and home maintenance through A Brush with Kindness.  She also serves on the Minnesota Veteran’s Commission.  Trista told me that although women make up 19% of veterans (23,000 in Minnesota) 37% of women veterans are unemployed compared with 29% of male veterans.

One of the veterans Trista recruited to work at home on Van Buren is JoAnn who is a Veteran’s Representative working with the Department of Employment. She usually works hard to bring employers and veterans together but this week she was working on flooring. Another volunteer is Pat who is retired from the Army. She is a Women’s Coordinator with the Veteran’s Administration. Thallassa is retired from the Air Force. Her job is providing veteran’s services for the Bayport American Legion but this week she was carefully measuring and cutting strips of flooring to be laid by the other volunteers. It’s inspiring to see how these former armed service members continue to use their time and energy to benefit other citizens-today by working on floors.