HAMLET — If you ever thought that building houses was a man’s job, there’s some women in Richmond County out to prove you wrong.
Amie Fraley, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of the NC Sandhills, said she recently went to one of the organization’s build sites to find it comprised almost entirely of women, and wondered about the possibility of a more “fun” build: building an entire home with (mostly) women volunteers — with the usual professional support.
“I think a lot of times women don’t naturally gravitate toward Habitat because they think, ‘Oh you have to be a construction worker,’” Fraley said. “I want women to realize they can come out and it can be empowering to work along side other women at the same skill level.”
The home will be built near the intersection of High Street and Oakland Avenue in Hamlet and will be dedicated to Ellis and Rinika Pittman, and their son, Robert. Ranika is legally blind, but has joined Ellis in building up the 300 hours of “sweat equity” required to be eligible to receive a home from Habitat.
“I think they prove that nothing can stop you if that’s really what you want to do,” said Christian Liles, chairperson of the Women Build 2018 Committee.
The committee is tasked with recruiting 300 women to join the build by September, and is planning to do so through a series of events spread out over the summer.
Fraley said Habitat has never done a themed build site in the past because of a lack of funding, but the nonprofit is hoping to double it’s output of affordable homes by 2020 and is in the early stages of a new fundraising push in Richmond County. Their first event is Yoga by the Creek on Saturday, June 2 at 8 a.m. at Hitchcock Creek. On June 25 they will partner with Smithfield’s to donate all tips to benefit Habitat, according to Liles.
They are also in the planning stages of a Womanless Beauty Pageant which will be held on Saturday, Aug. 18 at Liberty Place in downtown Rockingham.
Liles said that participating women will learn skills that they can use around their own homes, as well as build fellowship.
“I think women are capable of doing everything,” she said. “There’s no new challenges (in having majority women volunteers) that we won’t be able to overcome.”
Helping with this effort to double the production of homes is an anonymous donation of nine lots in Briarwood, which Fraley said may not necessarily become nine new homes because some are not in “ideal” condition.
“(Donation) is definitely our favorite way to receive new land,” as opposed to purchasing it, she said. “It’s a great alternative for those who don’t plan to build on their land.”
The next home Habitat builds, following the Pittman home resulting from the Women Build, will be in Rockingham, according to Fraley. The Briarwood homes will come next.
“We want to see more investment in affordable housing,” Fraley said.
Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2674 or [email protected]