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January 27, 2016 Volunteering

Brotherly Love: Women Build Week at Habitat for Humanity

By Ukee Washington

This week, women volunteers are putting on jeans and grabbing power tools to help Habitat for Humanity. They call it Women Build Week. We met some of women who are proud to “build like a girl.”

Patti Post of Perkasie has eleven years of construction experience under her tool belt, learned as a Habitat for Humanity volunteer.

“Painting, cleaning, putting up drywall. Every job,” Patti said.

Now she’s helping pass on some of that knowledge to female volunteers.

Elizabeth Bowers, Director of Development and Communications for Habitat for Humanity Montgomery County, said, “Women Build is a weeklong project where we empower women to come together, to network, and learn to build.”

Since 1976, Habitat organizations around the world have fixed up houses side-by-side with the families who will live there.

“When I first started with Habitat, everything was by hand,” volunteer Patricia Tomko of Perkiomen Township said.

Not anymore. Volunteers learn several different kinds of power equipment.

The Women Build team hoped to work on a Habitat job site in Norristown, but the massive snowstorm temporarily shut down the site. So until the streets are clear, about 15 women are building tables and expanding the construction office at Habitat for Humanity Restore in West Norriton.

“It’s just women getting together, sharing, and working as a team,” Patricia said.

The new volunteers are catching up to the veterans.

First-time volunteer Amber Santoleri of South Philadelphia said she enjoys Woman Build, “just to let everyone know we can do the same thing a man can do, if not better sometimes.”

To Patti, it makes sense for women to learn these jobs to help the future occupants of the homes.

“Most of Habitat families are single moms or moms and children,” Patti said. “There are so many women that need help, and women change in a day here.”

Habitat for Humanity Montgomery County hopes to remodel and repair more than 35 homes this year. They say anyone who can lift a hammer can be trained to help.