KINGSTON – About 20 people took to a new home construction site in Kingston over the weekend hard at work with a shared purpose in mind: to lend a hand up, not a handout.
A Women Build, put on over the weekend by Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County, aimed to raise funds and bring volunteers in the community together to build the 17th home in the organization’s 25-year history for the Gonzalez family.
Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County Executive Director Kim McIver said she hopes all the women on the build site feel empowered.
“I want them to know that they spent the day making a difference in the life of another woman,” McIver said. “I think when women … come together, we’re a united front and we really help each other up. I think it’s really impactful especially when you’re a mom and you know that you’re building a stable foundation for those kids and that family. When they have safe place to call home, it’s transformational. It’s a generational thing because they’re going to carry this thing with them. Everybody just wants their family to feel safe.”
The Women Build made for the third of three national fundraising events slated for the year. This time around, volunteers were charged with working on the gutter and siding of the house.
“I want them to know that they spent the day making a difference in the life of another woman. I think when women … come together, we’re a united front and we really help each other up.”— Kim McIver
Earlville resident Kelly Johnson said she’s glad she decided to participate in the Women Build. She said her favorite part about the event was the people she shared it with.
“I think just being around like-minded people that are here to help [and] for the experience,” Johnson said. “Everybody’s super friendly. Most of the ladies here are in the NIU [Northern Illinois University] group, but I don’t know anybody here. But everybody here was super friendly and welcoming. So, it was nice to just sign in and help.”
Johnson said she’s gained some new skills by participating in the Women Build.
“I’m much better with a hammer,” Johnson said. “I’ve never hung siding before. I’d say I’m pretty good at it now.”
NIU student Salma Thomas shared that sentiment.
“[I’ve] never built a house, but I’m learning how to do siding, which is fun,” Thomas said.
NIU student Maja Rzadkowski said she’s fortunate that she didn’t have to worry about what to do when faced with challenges on the new home’s construction site.
“It’s just slow and steady,” Rzadkowski said. “We have so many people helping us that are professionals [who] have done this type of work for many, many years. Having that type of supervision really helps us and guides us, which is really good.”
McIver said the trouble with buying materials needed to build the home hasn’t subsided.
She said the group isn’t part of Habitat International, which means the DeKalb County group buys all the materials itself for home builds using fundraised money. McIver said they try to support as many DeKalb County trades during the process as they can.
“The biggest thing that we’re facing is obviously the increase in prices,” McIver said. “The cost of building our Habitat homes have gone up by about 30% and that’s seen across the board. So, all Habitat affiliates are having … to fundraise the difference in the cost of the homes.”
McIver added that fundraisers, such as the Women Build, go a long way toward bridging the gap in funds.
The group is always welcome to more corporate teams to hold a build.
“Because if we’re not given those donor dollars and those sponsorships, then we’re not able to build any more homes and that’s the mission of Habitat: It’s to build as many homes as possible,” McIver said. “There is such a high demand within DeKalb County for safe affordable shelter. We definitely need all the funding we can get to help us carryout our mission.”
McIver said she would consider the Women Builds that Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County had put on a success.
“It is annual event, so we definitely look forward to hosting it again next year,” McIver said. “We had such a demand for it for DeKalb County that we hosted it three different weekends. … We had so many women that wanted to come out and be a part of the Women Build.”
Thomas urges anyone considering participating in future Women Build events to heed her advice.
“Just come and enjoy. It seems like it’s super intimidating, but when you get here, everyone’s super nice,” Thomas said. “It’s fine if you don’t know anything. You’re here to learn.”