Making a Difference in our Community: Women Build with Habitat for Humanity
Environmental Business Specialists is a strong proponent of giving back to the community. We encourage and foster an attitude of volunteerism among our employees. Understanding the value of belonging to a community and encouraging employees to seek out opportunities to give back is promoted not only verbally but written in our company manual. One way is by encouraging employees to work as a team, which cultivates not only volunteerism but also camaraderie among staff.
On October 19, 2010, the women of EBS volunteered to be a part of Women Build 2010. Women Build is a Habitat for Humanity volunteer program for women who want to make a difference by building homes in their community. The Habitat for Humanity Women Build mission is simple: they recruit, educate and nurture women to build decent and affordable homes. Habitat for Humanity St. Tammany West has served the west St. Tammany parish (county) community since 1981, creating 175 affordable new homes with low-income families. Homes are created with volunteer labor and community funding, then sold to HFHSTW home buyers with zero-interest mortgage loans. Each home buyer participates in financial education programs and contributes some 400 hours of “sweat-equity”. Since 2002, women have helped Habitat for Humanity in St. Tammany West build 13 homes.
What might you do during your volunteer day with Habitat? Our day started bright and early. Instructions were to bring sunscreen, pack a lunch, wear jeans and work boots and come with the willingness to learn. On-site, we were giving information on the day’s agenda. Questions such as, “Are you comfortable on a roof? Working with saws? Standing on a ladder?” were asked. Within no time our duties were assigned. The focus on two side-by-side houses was exterior work. It was amazing to see how these women did not hesitate to get on the roof, climb very tall ladders, and work a circular saw. Before we knew it, we had exterior siding in place on two houses, hand railings for a front porch completed on one house, the decking for a second house’s front porch finished, and a landing built for an air conditioning unit.
Women Build not only provides an opportunity to volunteer, it allows women to learn construction skills and gain a sense of pride by uniting with other women to build a home in partnership with a family who could not otherwise afford to own a home of their own. During our day we were able to meet the future homeowner as well as another homeowner whose house was to be started in December. These two ladies had to put in 300 hours each towards building Habitat for Humanity houses as part of their contract with Habitat. It was extremely rewarding to know that our volunteering efforts would make a difference in someone’s life. We had a hand in building a family’s dream home, one they would soon be moving in just in time for Christmas.