Female home builders hammering away at stereotypes

Sunday, September 11, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 8:36 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

After 200 women volunteered to fuel the second Women’s Build in Columbia for the Show-Me Central Habitat for Humanity, more than few leading local women leaders applauded the construction project.

On Friday, Show-Me Central Habitat for Humanity held a ground-breaking ceremony in the Norbury Hills subdivision, where it started the second Women’s Build in Columbia.

State Rep. Judy Baker, D-Columbia, and Axie Hindman, Mayor Darwin Hindman’s wife, spoke at the opening ceremony and expressed their excitement over a team made up entirely of women.

“Women are an agent for change, whether it’s in our PTA, our churches, or non-profit organizations,” Baker said. “One thing really great is that it (the build) challenges stereotypes.”

The group’s first build was in 2002 and since then over 200 women have signed up to help.

Volunteers will build every Saturday after being trained at Lowe’s the night before to learn how to work on different parts of the house. While there will be different women assisting in various stages of the build, the supervisor of the project will be a man.

“It was difficult to find women in the building sector who had time to work,” said Bill View, executive director of Show-Me Central Habitat for Humanity.

David Hahn will supervise the build and said he looks forward to working with an all-woman team. He even predicts they might make better workers than men.

“I’ve found women have a little more diligence and accuracy,” Hahn said.

Hard work alone will not be enough to complete the house. Each house costs about $45,000 for materials and about $20,000 for the land. All of the money will come from donations. Once completed, a family of seven, the Soms, will move into their new home on Thomas Drive. They must put in 250 hours of work into their own house and will eventually pay back Habitat for Humanity over the next 20 years without interest.

“We really are waiting for our house,” Chan Som said. “If we get it before Christmas, that would be good for the kids. It would be a gift for them.”

The Soms are just one of 65 families who have benefitted from Habitat for Humanity in Columbia.

Work began with Stephens College President Wendy Libby driving the first nail into the house. Every Saturday the build will begin with a local female leader hammering the first nail of the day.

“I’m truly excited to be part of an innovative program like this that teaches us to drive a nail,” Baker said. “Nails are small and singular, regularly spaced and largely unobserved fasteners. Women are just like nails. They are small and singular and largely unobserved in the background but hold things together.”

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