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2013-05-07 at NOON

Women Build

By Leith Dunick,
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Habitat for Humanity Thunder Bay is asking women to trade in their high heels for work boots.

On Tuesday the organization launched its first Women Build project in the city, a Mary Street home that will be predominantly constructed by the fairer sex.

It’s an idea whose time has come, said Habitat CEO Diane Mitchell.

“It is going to be a blast,” Mitchell said. “I don’t know why it’s taken us so long. I think you just get into the groove and you build a house and it just kind of happens and you’re used to it, right?

“But we’ve had more and more women say to us, ‘I’d really like to come out to the build, but I’m kind of shy, I don’t think I know what I’m doing and I’m a little intimidated with all the men who know what they’re doing on the build.”

It’s a home that was supposed to have been completed last year, but because of extenuating circumstances, the $75,000 needed to make it happen just wasn’t available.

Mitchell said potential donors had other things on their minds in 2012.

“We had such a bad year in Thunder Bay last year, with the big flood happening, that we decided to shut down our build site and delay that, which was one of the hardest decisions I ever had to make, and tell the family to delay it until this year,” Mitchell said.

Sameral Taw, a Burmese refugee-camp immigrant who arrived in Canada only to have her husband die suddenly, said it’s been worth the wait.

She and her two boys drive by the site every day, imagining what life will be like in Westfort.

She’s worried socio-economic issues will get the better of her sons where she lives at the moment, and can’t wait to find a more peaceful surrounding.

It feels great to have been chosen as a Habitat family, with an interest-free mortgage tailored to her income.

“I’m so happy, not only for me, but for my kids, for my boys. We’re all excited to get a new house,” she said.

“I think it’s going to be the right place for us.”

No construction experience is necessary to volunteer on a build. Women – and men, for that matter – will be taught the relevant skills on the job site. Special tailgate sessions will be held for all volunteers. The program is designed to teach, not tell, said build co-ordinator Leonard Roy.

“Not only will women learn how to build a house, but they can take what they’ve learned and put it into practice at home. They will be able to do their own renovations without having to spend a fortune on a contractor,” Roy said.

May 4 to May 12 has been designated National Women Build week.

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We've improved our comment system.
cac says:
Great project and of course a great cause...but really are the bright pink hardhats and t-shirts necessary?
5/7/2013 1:24:20 PM
westfort resident says:
@cac: I agree with you 100%.
5/7/2013 1:47:34 PM
Stephanie says:
Awesome cause of course and kudos to everyone involved. But this whole thing brings out the feminist in me. Bright pink work wear, puns on 'trading in our high heels' and being the 'fairer' sex. Why is there an article in 2013 that women are helping on a building project? Should this be surprising?
5/7/2013 3:20:26 PM
cac says:
Point well made! In these times it certainly should not be surprising that there are women on a building project.
5/8/2013 12:07:38 PM
Cletus Van Damme says:
I dig the pink shirts, and please... don't get rid of the high heels!
5/7/2013 3:30:38 PM
nvjgu says:
Won't have to spend a fortune on a contractor, that's great news, but what if there husband or son/daughter works at one of those contractors.
5/8/2013 7:37:29 AM
Vanity says:
Go Ladies :)
5/8/2013 3:23:25 PM
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