On Saturday, May 7, 2022, about 40 women came together for Women of Impact Build, the conclusion of Habitat for Humanity Seattle-King County’s 15th annual Women Build Week (April 30 – May 7).

(Photo Credit: Alan Alabastro)

Sponsored locally by PRIME Electric, Women Build Week was an opportunity for volunteers to devote one day during the week to help Habitat for Humanity Seattle-King County advance its mission of building strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter. Hundreds of local women donned hard hats and rolled up their sleeves throughout the week as they volunteered to help support their low-income neighbors.

Women of Impact Build

Saturday morning’s Women of Impact Build day began in typical Seattle-area fashion – rain. And lots of it. My best friend Mishana and I arrived around 8:30 a.m. We took the rain in somewhat of a stride as we picked up our name tags, hard hats, safety goggles, t-shirts and tool belts. Habitat for Humanity provided delicious Panera breakfast options and some much needed coffee for all of the volunteers.

(Photo Credit: Kirsten Andresen)

After the volunteers had all checked in, Habitat for Humanity leaders laid out how the day would pan out, what work assignments were available, the history behind the La Fortuna neighborhood build site in Renton and conducted a safety briefing.

Mishana and I all geared up.
Our Assignments

When Mishana heard the word “power tools,” and “working outside,” she was gone to join that group in the blink of an eye. Her group was tasked with measuring columns, cutting trim, and screwing each piece to the column.

Mishana cutting and measuring!

The team lead showed everyone how to properly measure and cut the trim. The difficult part was actually screwing it to the column in a straight and even fashion. Mishana spent her entire day either up on a ladder with a power screwdriver or cutting the trim with a table saw. She had no idea you could manipulate wood with screws and clamps. At the end of the day, exhausted and wet from the rain, Mishana’s perma-grin was proof that she enjoyed every bit of it!

(Photo Credit: Alan Alabastro)

I joined the group providing the interior finishing touches on three of the homes. This included vacuuming and sweeping up wood and drywall dust and caulking. Jokes aside, I have only caulked a few times over my 42 years of life, but on this day, I would learn the art of how to do it properly. I had a very good team lead who showed me how to cut the tip of the caulk tube at an angle, how to use the caulking gun, and the best techniques for precision caulking.

She taught me how to angle the tube against the surface and use a light touch with my finger to smooth it out at the end. Having a damp rag nearby was also handy to wipe any excess caulk off the walls and trim. I also had to wear a headlamp while I cleaned and caulked some of the interior bathrooms that had no windows. None of the homes had electricity yet and it was very dark! The first few hours of the morning flew by!

Taking everything down in the bathroom for cleanup! (Photo Credit: Alan Alabastro)
Lunch Break

Pretty soon it was time for lunch, and once again, Panera was waiting for us! We had a wide variety of sandwiches, salad, chips, and cookies to choose from. We were definitely well fed the entire day. While the wind had picked up tremendously during the lunch hour, all of the volunteers sat and chatted amongst one another. I met an amazing crew of volunteers from Seattle City Light and learned about all of the volunteer work they do outside of work hours.

During the lunch hour, we got to hear some inspiring stories from the new soon to be homeowners. Mrs. Washington America 2020 spoke about some of her past, what she endured and all that she had to overcome.  There was also a raffle with some very cool prizes, which unfortunately, neither Mishana nor I won anything. It’s okay though because my raffle ticket blew away in the wind and I wondered if they’d call a number that no one would have – maybe that would have been mine!

My headlamp almost looks like a heart and yet my shadow looks like it’s from the movie, Psycho!
End of the Day

After lunch, I then spent the rest of the day caulking, sweeping, vacuuming, and dusting the interior of three of the homes to provide those final touches before the new homeowners would move in. I made some new friends, including one who also moved to this Washington from the Virginia-area (I moved here in 2012 and still have my 703 phone number). We reminisced about all things Mid-Atlantic, including Maryland Blue Crab (joking about the amount of work it takes to get a little bit of crab meat versus what you get with Dungeness Crab), going to concerts at Wolf Trap, our DC Metro memories and so much more.

We finished up just before 4 p.m. and I was still in shock how quickly the entire day went! It was truly one of the most memorable experiences I have had. There is one thing to donate money to causes, which in and of itself definitely helps others! But its something else entirely to literally put in the hands-on labor to make a difference in someone else’s life.

I highly recommend spending at least one day helping out with a Habitat for Humanity home. It will be an experience you will not forget or regret!

If you’d like to support Habitat for Humanity-Seattle King County, their biggest annual fundraiser the Beyond the Build Luncheon is coming up on Thursday, June 2 at the Washington State Convention Center. Author of Nomadland, Jessica Bruder, will be the keynote speaker and it’s a great way to learn more about Habitat’s work in the community. To register visit: Beyond the Build Luncheon Habitat SKC

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ABOUT HABITAT FOR HUMANITY SEATTLE-KING & KITTITAS COUNTIES

In Seattle-King County, Kittitas County and around the world, Habitat for Humanity brings people together as volunteers, homeowners, donors and community members to create strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter, ranking in the top 20 of America’s Favorite Charities for 2019 by the Chronicle of Philanthropy. In our local community, Habitat for Humanity constructs affordable homes, revitalizes neighborhoods, repairs homes for low-income people and seniors, operates discount home improvement stores in Auburn, Southcenter, Bellevue, and Ellensburg, and mobilizes nearly 4,500 volunteers a year. Learn more at www.Habitatskc.org.

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