FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) - On this International Women's Day, a Habitat for Humanity house is going up on Fort Worth's southside managing to celebrate the strides that women have made while still acknowledging struggles, like affordable housing.
"Nineteen million households spend half of their income on housing," says Lydia Traina with Trinity Habitat, "that doesn't leave much for education, and childcare, or reliable transportation and food!"
So on this day, with help from Lowe's and a lot of well-manicured hands, ladies flex some homebuilding muscles to help a Fort Worth single Mom become a homeowner.
"It's very exciting," says Andrea Mitchell, new homeowner, and absolute fan of the 'sweat equity' required to earn her own set of keys. Habitat homeowners are required to contribute community service hours and also help on the construction of others' homes. "Construction is like stress relief. You don't realize how much pent up energy you have when you're swinging hammers and seeing the walls going up and seeing how happy they are and knowing my time was coming up, soon. It was a beautiful experience."
And that seems to go double for all of the volunteers working today to help make it happen.
"My favorite day is day one, when we raise the walls," says Trinity Habitat Project Manager Susan DeVault. "And all of a sudden she can see her bedroom, she can see her kids' rooms... and the look on that homeowners' face!"
DeVault says she was 60 before she ever picked up a hammer. She says she was looking for a "joyful" volunteer effort for her retirement years and found it in Habitat. Now, the former marketing professional is building houses, and today showcasing the power of women to work together to impact big issues.
"These are people that have worked, and tried to save money and tried to get into a home, and they can't put together that 10, 12 or 15-thousand dollars to get into a new home," explains DeVault. "And they work hard to get these houses: this is not a gimmee out here! They put in hours, they build houses, they do volunteer work, they work with our office, we set them up to be successful."
"It's going to be all decorated, it's going to be nice," exclaims a dreamy-eyed Mitchell, walking through the framed up house. "I'm going to build a breakfast nook right here under this window."
Mitchell says she can already picture the freshly painted walls and the stories she will tell her 5-year-old daughter about working alongside volunteers who helped to hammer them in place.
"I'm going to tell her I built the garage!" She explains with a laugh. "I built that garage. My grandparents came out to help, my Mom came out to help... I've wanted my own home all my life."
And Habitat leaders say the extra ladies' hands sends an important message as well.
"I want them to be inspired today," says Lydia Traina, with the Trinity Habitat for Humanity. "I want the little girls to see their Moms, their sisters their grandmas out here...that they can do amazing things if they work together."
"Thank you, thank you, thank you to Lowe's, thank you to all the volunteers," says Mitchell. "I really appreciate it and I can't wait to help out in the future!"
"All over the world, we rock!" says DeVault.
We do, indeed.
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