By DANIELLE REID
Habitat for Humanity of the NRV launched a Women Build Initiative Day in Pulaski County, VA. On Saturday, July 22nd teams of women volunteers turned out to help build decks on two houses in Pulaski County. Volunteers Ella Liberman, Kelley Elliott and Patti Huston, who worked on the Pulaski house, all agreed that learning skills while volunteering to help construct a home was a lot of fun, as well as satisfying.
Huston, who is a first-time volunteer for Habitat, said she saw the Woman Build Initiative Day advertised on TV. “I have a lot of work to do on my own house, so I wanted to learn skills from the experts at Habitat,” she said.
Ray Ignizio is a full-time employee of Habitat and the lead construction worker on the Pulaski build site. He has been with Habitat since December, 2022. “Volunteer Day is my favorite one on the jobsite. We help people build new skills and share in their excitement as they are learning.”
Volunteer Coordinator for Habitat NRV, Brenda Sternfeld, explained “By volunteering, local women gain the construction knowledge and skills that can be used to maintain or repair their own homes while also supporting affordable home-ownership in the NRV.”
This house, located on Henry Street in Pulaski, has three-bedrooms, two-bathrooms, and a kitchen-living room combination. It includes many cost-saving initiatives including solar roof panels, to qualify as an energy-saving home.
GiveSolar donated the funds to purchase the solar panels and Baseline Solar in Christiansburg donated the labor to put the panels in place on the roof.
Much of the house was built by high school students from the Giles Tech Center and is the eighth one they have constructed. On occasion, Habitat needs to sub-contract part of a project in order to stay on schedule. But using volunteer labor helps keep the cost of purchasing a house from Habitat more affordable. Additionally, Habitat underwrites the home purchase at zero percent interest.
Sternfeld says people can find home ownership information and apply to buy a Habitat home on the Habitat for Humanity NRV website. To qualify for a Habitat Home, families and/or individuals in the NRV must demonstrate need, earn 30-80% of the median income for the county they reside, and be willing to partner with HabitatNRV by committing to 200 hours of sweat equity.
On September 15, 2022, HabitatNRV & Atmos Energy joined with Pulaski County CTE program, Setter Construction, and Baseline Solar to celebrate the groundbreaking for Virginia’s first of it’s kind Zero Net Energy home.
This home, which is being built on Stafford Drive in Dublin, consists of 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and a walkout basement. It also features natural gas heating, water heating, and solar technology. ZNE homes are designed to produce as much energy as they consumes within a year, which results in net zero energy consumption.
Then on July 22, 2023 Habitat for Humanity sponsored the Women Build Initiative Day at the Stafford home construction site in Dublin. Eight women volunteers turned out to have fun while learning new skills and helping a family find a path for affordable home ownership.
Besides the eight women volunteers ranging in age from 18 to 67, there were four Habitat skilled employees, Assistant Construction Manager Kiedel Harroff and Habitat NRV Executive Director Jim Drader.
First-time volunteer Sara Leonard said she saw the announcement on Facebook and decided this was a wonderful way to give back to families in need. “Two days ago, I was limited to hanging curtains. Now I can cut wood, hammer nails, use drills” she laughed as she raised a hammer as a sign of victory.
Drader praised the many people and businesses that came together to make this build possible. “Atmos Energy, Baseline Solar, Pulaski County High School Tech Center, Giles County High School Tech Center, Wes Smith Construction, along with so many other contributors have given their time and talents, as wonderful partners for Habitat NRV. All the new Habitat NRV homes will have solar panels now. Baseline Solar in Christiansburg donated the labor to install them and GiveSolar donated the money to purchase the panels. The building site lot was donated to Habitat NRV. The Giles County High School Tech Center built the home like a modular and had it moved onto the site. Then the Pulaski County High School Tech Center got it dried in, under the supervision of Wes Smith Construction.”
Habitat NRV is getting ready to start construction in the fall of 2023 on the tenth home in the NRV. They are also working on projects in the area for duplexes, townhouses and multi-unit housing, helping to make housing more affordable for families. Interested homeowner applicants can download an application by going to: https://www.habitatnrv.org/homebuyers
As the Women Build Day progressed, there was high energy on the jobsite as the woman volunteers made it fun to learn new skills and help others. Comments and laughter were tossed back and forth as they worked together as a team. The most used were: “Women get stuff done…Women are natural problem solvers…and, We are leaving behind great energy and comradery for the new homeowners.”
If you are interested in volunteering for an upcoming Habitat for Humanity NRV build, please visit: https://www.habitatnrv.org/volunteer