Women Empowering Women: Women Build 2023
Throughout August, one might notice something different about our build sites: a stronger than usual sense of women empowerment.
Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity has long recognized the critical role that women play in our communities as well as their specific barriers to homeownership. In 2022, 94% of our families were female-headed, single-parent households.
That is why we host an annual Women Build that brings together future homeowners, dedicated volunteers, and staff to empower women, empower families, and empower communities.
During the rest of the month, fifteen different teams made up of women volunteers will work on different homes across Milwaukee. They will install siding, install drywall, paint, raise walls, and more.
To kickoff this year’s Women Build, participants gathered last week to practice construction skills, eat dinner together, and get excited for the upcoming builds. Some of the participating women are long term volunteers and for some, this is their first experience with Milwaukee Habitat.
A group of women from Hatch Staffing Services is volunteering this year, many for the first time. Their team has a special connection to the build.
“We are a women owned company,” Hatch employee and volunteer Kristin said. “Community is one of our fundamentals. We wanted to be involved in something local that supports women.”
For Egle, a volunteer on another team, it is not her first time volunteering with a Habitat affiliate. She is a longtime advocate for affordable housing. However, it is her first time volunteering in Milwaukee. Before coming to the kickoff party, Egle drove through the neighborhood that her team will be volunteering in.
“The street looks very nice [with all the Habitat homes],” Egle said. “Housing is so, so important. The [housing] issue is very alarming. We need to put as much attention as possible to the issue, particularly affordable housing.”
Women Build aims to do just that.
By bringing attention to the issue and bringing in funds, Women Build empowers women and empowers communities, something that Egle and the volunteers from Hatch are proponents of.
“Housing is the beginning of everything,” Egle said. “We cannot have effective community members without housing. A homeowner becomes part of a community. Community looks different [when you live in it].”
Throughout the month, volunteers are raising money to sponsor a home. Women Build volunteers want to help bring Milwaukee families the stability that comes with housing. To do that, they not only are volunteering their time, but also raising funds. Their goal is to raise $75,000 to purchase construction materials for Shirron’s new home. By offsetting construction material costs, Milwaukee Habitat is able to offer affordable homeownership opportunities for first-time homebuyers like Shirron.
Shirron is a mother of three boys under the age of 11. She wants to invest in a home where she can raise her family and have something to pass along to her children.
Shirron was out on site installing drywall with the first group of Women Build volunteers last week.
“It is a great experience working side by side with women,” Shirron said. “We all came together. It makes it fun… working with a group who wants to do the same thing as you.”
Shirron (second from left) working alongside Women Build volunteers from Thrive Realty Group
While on site, Shirron reflected on what it’s like to be a woman working on a project like this one.
“Women are always overlooked,” Shirron said. “They think we can’t put in a light bulb or pick up a screwdriver. But we found out we can do it. You can do anything you put your mind to.”
Shirron, Egle, the Hatch volunteers, and many more women volunteers will spend the rest of the month building homes and raising money towards Shirron’s home. They are raising awareness of the importance of affordable housing and taking action. On top of that, they are empowering themselves and other women and proving that women can do whatever they set their minds to.
“It’s amazing to me,” Shirron said. “All women coming together for the same purpose: to build a home for another person.”
Be part of Women Build and donate today to raise money for Shirron’s new home: