Women’s Build volunteers hit the nail on the head

SALEM – Picture Rosie the Riveter with a hammer in hand, nailing down the dream of home ownership for a deserving family.

That’s sort of the idea behind National Women Build Week, which Habitat for Humanity of Northern Columbiana County celebrated Friday and Saturday with a two-day Women’s Build event at 223 W. Pershing St. in Salem.

“It’s fun. We’re teaching people how to use a tape measure, how to saw, how to build walls,” Construction Manager Scott Craven said.

Craven leads the builds for the Habitat for Humanity of Northern Columbiana County and said they’ve had a bigger presence of women in the last few years on building sites. This was the first year for the local affiliate to take part in Women’s Build after securing a $5,000 grant from Lowe’s, which helped to launch National Women Build Week in 2008. Mahoning County was also taking part with a project in Youngstown.

Craven said it’s exciting to have women participating, regardless of their skill level.

“A lot of women are intimidated by the building process,” he said.

Their job is to show them that women can do it and have already been doing it, some for many years. Amber Rummel, volunteer coordinator for the Women’s Build in northern Columbiana County, has been volunteering for close to two years and even traveled to Bolivia last year for a Global Village build.

She said they’ve had a great turnout this weekend, with some women taking part in Habitat for the first time.

“It’s rewarding because at the end of the day, they can see their work and how they’re providing safe, decent housing for a family in need,” Habitat for Humanity of Northern Columbiana County Executive Director Barb Loudon said.

On Friday, they worked to finish the floor and on Saturday, they started raising the walls of the new home, the 36th for the local chapter. Most of the homes have been constructed in Salem, with some also in Leetonia, Lisbon and Columbiana.

The home will be an Energy Star, three-bedroom, one-bath, 1,100-square-foot one-story home with a basement, following a modified design in partnership with the Kent State University School of Architecture. The home is expected to be finished for the family to purchase it in August.

During this weekend’s event, Sterling House provided lunch on Friday and the Salem Regional Medical Center provided lunch on Saturday.

For anyone who couldn’t make it to the Women Build event, Craven said they’re always looking for volunteers. He said they don’t need any skills. Habitat hosts orientation classes once or twice a month. If construction isn’t their thing, volunteers can lend a hand at the ReStore in Salem, which sells all types of furniture, home goods and materials at discounted prices. Money made at the ReStore goes to support building projects.

To volunteer or learn more, call 330-337-1003. The group also has a Facebook page where photographs of builds are posted along with information about Habitat and volunteering opportunities.

Loudon said they purchase land or secure property at sheriff sales or people can donate land for future habitat homes. They look for lots at least 50 feet wide and 100 feet long with access to water and sewer.

They’ve also been a part of builds elsewhere in the world through tithing.