‘Women Build’ Habitat program gives ‘blessing’ in Rock Hill

Habitat for Humanity volunteers work on a house in Rock Hill on Saturday as part of National Women Build Week.
Habitat for Humanity volunteers work on a house in Rock Hill on Saturday as part of National Women Build Week. TRACY KIMBALL

With perfectly coiffed hairdos and freshly manicured fingernails, more than two dozen women picked up pink hard hats and hammers on Saturday in Rock Hill as part of National Women Build Week with Habitat for Humanity.

Alongside a skilled construction crew, the women and a handful of men – all volunteers – painted, hammered, sanded, laid insulation and installed siding to a home on Rockwood Drive. Volunteers were from from local churches and businesses, Lowe’s Home Improvement and Habitat for Humanity.

“This is my passion,” said Glenda Warren, a volunteer. “To see people who have worked so hard to get a home, you just can’t ask for anything more.”

Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit housing organization that builds and rehabilitates homes. The group also provides financial training and support for families. York County’s Habitat chapter is one of 1,500 across the country.

Through Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build program, volunteers devote at least one day to help build affordable housing in their communities. The volunteers gathered in Rock Hill on Saturday to remodel and repair a home in recognition of National Women Build Week, which is from May 2 to 10.

Shavonna Patton, a customer service employee at Lowe’s, said she volunteered because her friend received a Habitat for Humanity home last November.

“I came out to help this family and to get my hands dirty,” Patton said. She is also a member of her company’s employee volunteer program, called “Lowe’s Heroes.”

The home improvement store helped launched National Women Build Week in 2008 and provides clinics to teach construction skills. This year, Lowe’s donated a $5,000 gift card to Habitat for Humanity of York County.

“It’s just fabulous to see everyone working together,” said volunteer Linda Haughton, who has participated in three Women Build projects.

At the Rockwood Drive home, crews added an additional bathroom and bedroom to the 1950s-era house. The front room has a large window, hardwood floors and a fireplace. Volunteers buzzed around the house wearing pink shirts.

Habitat’s mission is for every person to have “decent, safe, and affordable housing,” Warren said.

The new homeowner of the Rockwood Drive house, Robin Near, said the classes Habitat offers have been helpful and have given her financial peace. She learned about Habitat two years ago while she was at a women’s shelter with her daughter, she said.

“They have been helpful through the whole process,” Near said.

The families who receive Habitat houses partner with the organization by working during the construction of the home.

“They go to classes and they have to put in sweat equity,” Warren said.

When the house is complete, the new homeowners – who will have a mortgage to pay – are comfortable and confident, Warren said.

“Habitat does an incredible job making sure they have ownership and value in that,” she said.

After the construction crew and volunteers leave, Habitat hands the new owner the keys at a ceremony.

“The day they hand over the keys, it’s the most exciting day for the homeowners,” Warren said. “And it is a blessing to everybody that has volunteered on the house.”

At the end of June, Near said she will get those keys.

“My family and I will be so happy there,” she said. “It is a blessing.”

Related stories from Rock Hill Herald