FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A high turn-out of volunteers for Fort Wayne’s Women Build has the organization extending the program for another week.
“Women Build has exceeded all expectations this year. We are humbled by the community support,” Justin Berger, the CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Fort Wayne, said.
Last year there were 35 Women Build teams. This year there are more than 66 teams.
“It’s been pretty life-changing. I’ve learned different budget skills, ways to save money, invest money and home-ownership skills.” – Allison Massey, Habitat Partner Family
“The enthusiasm that comes around women getting their girlfriends together or people they work with or their best friends and say, ‘Hey. Let’s go build a house, do something we don’t normally do.’ The energy is always really high out here. There’s a lot of chatter on the job site and it seems like everyone is having a great time,” Berger said.
This is the tenth year for Women Build in Fort Wayne and Habitat’s 30th anniversary of being in Allen County. The volunteers are working on several houses in Fuller’s Landing, which is the Habitat neighborhood off of Cook Road.
“It’s really powerful to drive down the streets that used to be a cornfield and see 20-some houses here,” Berger said. “It started as a blank 40 acres four years ago and it has flourished. We’ve been humbled by the community support and financing and funding and volunteer support to build the neighborhood for people who are looking for a hand up not a hand out.”
Habitat partner families pay back a no-interest mortgage and have to complete 400 hours of “sweat equity,” working on their own home and other homes.
“It’s exciting. I can’t wait for it to be done,” Allison Massey said as she stood in front of her soon-to-be new home. “I have to help build at least 25 hours on my own house and I’ve been out here with the crew leads and volunteers and it’s been really fun meeting people.”
Massey and her two-year-old daughter will move into one of the Women Build homes.
“It’s been pretty life-changing. I’ve learned different budget skills, ways to save money, invest money and home-ownership skills,” Massey said.
Her home should be done at the end of the summer.
“I’m very excited. Excited to decorate. Excited to move in. I’m excited for my daughter. I’m just ready,” she said.
While Women Build will end June 3, build days will not. Habitat hopes to build ten houses this year and still needs volunteers.
“We’re going to start building year-round now,” Berger said. “Because of the need and because of number of volunteers that want to stay engaged, we’re changing our construction schedule a little. We won’t just build until Thanksgiving and then shutdown. We’re going to build after Christmas and into January and February and do all interior work, so there will always be volunteer opportunities on the job site.”