COLUMBIA — Nathalie Deloach, 18, and Annika Erickson, 16, are in Columbia this week to kill two birds with one stone.
The two are among a group of seven female students from The Principia School and College in St. Louis that made the trip to Columbia to camp at Cooper's Landing on Wednesday. But the group isn't just enjoying the scenery — the women are working with the local Habitat for Humanity for a senior project for a philanthropy class.
Since Wednesday, the group has worked with the Show-Me Central Habitat for Humanity on construction sites on Oakview and Allen drives. But on Saturday, they joined a handful of local women volunteers to rehab a Habitat for Humanity home on 2702 Norbury Drive as part of Women Build Day.
The event was in recognition of the National Women Build Week. Its goal is to "challenge women to devote at least one day to help build affordable housing in their local communities," according to a news release from local chapter of Habitat for Humanity.
"We're excited to have these high school seniors from St. Louis join other local women in volunteering at our site for a special project during the National Women Build Week," said Bill View, executive director for the Show-Me Central Habitat for Humanity.
The Norbury event received $5,000 in funding from Lowe's to purchase building materials from the store for future projects.
Lowe's is the official sponsor of the National Women Build Week, a campaign that began Saturday and will continue through May 12. The latter date coincides with Mother's Day.
Show-Me Habitat bought the house on Norbury Drive in a foreclosure bid in December and expects the rehabilitation to take a few months to complete.
"This is a used house, and it basically just needs new floors, new appliances and paint," View said. "It will be ready to occupy within two to three months."
The volunteers painted the interiors of the three-bedroom, two-bath house which, when completed, will go to a low-income Cambodian family that immigrated in 2009.
The La family of four currently rents a small three-bedroom apartment on Elleta Boulevard. They will take over the estimated $480 monthly mortgage payments for the Norbury Drive property. The payments are interest free and are paid within 20 years.
Habitat for Humanity requires the family to put in a certain amount of "sweat equity" by participating in the home construction, so the La family helped on Saturday.
Chitra "Ate" La, a 19-year-old Hickman High School junior, who painted what he already decided will be his bedroom, said he looks forward to moving into the new home.
"I'm happy," La said. "We've more space, and we can plant. My mom likes to plant gardens."
The approximately 1,000 square foot house meets the same building codes and inspection requirements as other homes in the area, said Bob Shannon, the project's construction manager.
Shannon, who supervised construction of the same house five years ago, said that future Show-Me Central constructions will be efficient energy-conserving homes built with heavy-duty insulation and double-duty windows.
"We're currently building a 'net-zero' house on Ash Street that will utilize solar energy for its heating needs," he said.
The Principia duo said they've had a tremendous experience assisting Shannon.
"He's nice and trusts us," Deloach said. "He gives us instructions and doesn't hover around us thereafter. We've all learned a great deal about constructions that we didn't know before."
The women said their group chose Columbia since they wanted to serve in a different environment and also selected Habitat because they share its mission.
Habitat provides home ownership opportunities for low-income families.
"A home is a pretty priceless thing," Erickson said. "We're excited to help low-income people in Columbia own their homes."
Deloach and Erickson agreed that their time in Cooper's Landing and at the Habitat sites has enhanced their bonds of friendship.
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