The next project for Habitat for Humanity of Johnson County will have a decidedly girly feel.
Workers will wear pink decorated hard-hats and dig into the dirt with pink shovels. Their T-shirts will be emblazoned with fluorescent flowers, tools and the word, “Inspire.”
Even the trash receptacle for garbage generated during the build will be pink.
Habitat for Humanity of Johnson County will start its second all-women’s build on May 6 in the hopes of carrying on the momentum that began with the first.
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By encouraging women’s groups and individuals to volunteer their time constructing a new home for a local family, organizers hope to harness the energy that seems to come with women bonding on a big project, said Lee Ann Wilbur, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Johnson County.
“In a women’s build, there’s more emotion. As a woman, as a mother, you want to help other women and their kids,” she said. “There is a lot of feeling, and a lot of fun.”
The build will be the 15th for Habitat for Humanity of Johnson County, which builds houses and sells them to families who otherwise could not afford one. It is the first in Trafalgar.
The organization worked with Tribecca Builders, which donated one of their lots in the town for the project. Trafalgar businesses and residents have donated and welcome the Habitat for Humanity effort. The town council waived all of the permit fees normally needed to build a house.
Volunteers have been assigned shifts to work each week from early May to June 12. Though overseen by experienced contractors, nearly all of the work will be done by women.
Habitat for Humanity has regularly done themes with its builds. Local businesses joined together one year to do all of the fundraising and volunteering to construct a house. Another year it was made up entirely of churches.
But in 2013, organizers wanted to try a different kind of theme, Wilbur said.
The first women’s build, completed in Franklin, drew 240 women and raised more than $75,000. It was such a success that the organization wanted to try it again.
“We knew the girls could do it. The first time, we weren’t sure what a build with all women would be. But it worked,” Wilbur said. “It was easier this time, since we had already blazed the trail on the first one. We just had to go in and critique our form.”
Organizers have recruited 12 teams, each with 20 women, to help raise the money needed for the build. Members put on Wine & Canvas classes, dry-painting parties and dine-to-donate events.
Participants have sold pink paper houses that supporters can display, indicating that they have helped with the effort.
“That first build was the most amazing thing, and we had such excitement from all of these gals in Johnson County to pull together and build this house,” she said. “It empowered them, and they felt good about it.”
Lowe’s in Franklin offered free construction-basics classes in the weeks leading up to the start of the build. They practiced cutting lumber using a circular saw, hammered wood together into ladder-like lattices and learned about safety on a job site.
The idea will be to schedule women’s builds every other year, as long as the interest and excitement are there, Wilbur said. She doesn’t see that being a problem, judging by the enthusiasm that’s already bubbling for this year’s project.
“The first one made such a big splash, and the ladies are wanting to get back out there and do it again and again,” Wilbur said.
How to be a partner family
Habitat for Humanity of Johnson County is looking for partner families to go through the program and purchase one of the organization’s future homes.
Applications are being accepted now through April 30. The next application period will be Aug. 1 to Sept. 30.
Applications received after the deadline will not be considered.
To become a homeowner
Potential Habitat families must meet the following criteria:
Demonstrate a need for housing that might be created by overcrowding or an inability to pay for current repairs or improved housing.
Be willing to invest hundreds of hours in volunteer labor and education requirements.
Be able to pay off an interest-free 20-year home loan. Homeowners must have minimal debt and a steady income source.
Information: 736-4454, habitatjohnsoncounty.org