When I talk with women about helping out at the 2011 Women Build for Lexington Habitat for Humanity, many times they say they can't because they don't know the kind of stuff you have to know to build a house.
Admittedly, it's intimidating for those of us who cannot operate power tools with any sense of expertise. But surely we can learn, especially when we know a deserving family will appreciate any effort we make.
The local build is a part of the National Women Build Week, which is April 30 to May 7.
"The Women Build is a phenomenal opportunity for women to come together for the common cause of building affordable housing," said Dana Stefaniak, Lexington Habitat spokesperson. "They can grow and learn alongside other women who are experts on construction."
Locally, this year's build will benefit Melanie Foster, who works in the housing department at the University of Kentucky, and her two children, Lauren, 20, and William, 9.
For them, and for so many other families reaching for the dream of home ownership, it's time we women stopped using the excuses. It's time we stepped out of our comfort zones. It is time we fearlessly grabbed a power tool.
OK. For some of us, maybe not. In that case, there are many jobs in and around a build that need volunteers to complete. We can sweep, paint, and wash windows. We can be helpers for the other workers, keeping them in supplies.
But if you have the least bit of a desire to help with simple carpentry and other aspects of home construction, there are two upcoming opportunities to settle jittery nerves and build confidence.
Lowe's at 200 Old Todds Road will host a free Women Build "how-to" clinic where you can learn some basics of construction and there will be time to practice your newly learned skills. Topics include how to install siding, interior doors and how to safely use power tools. All equipment will be provided. Lowe's has been a sponsor of the national Women Build project since 2004.
That's pretty serious.
Or you can attend one or all the classes offered at the Fifth Annual Ms. Fix-It Fair, sponsored by the Bluegrass Chapter of the National Association of Women in Construction. The fair is growing this year to include not only small electrical, tiling, plumbing and weatherization projects, but also gardening projects. That has to make you feel empowered.
Cindy Hiens, project manager assistant at Messer Construction Co., said about 175 women attended last year and she expects more this year. A tent will be set up so that a master gardener can host container gardening classes and Home Depot experts can teach how to build a raised garden, set pavers and construct a retaining wall.
Just like Habitat, the NAWIC wants women to be able to tackle certain projects ourselves.
With all this new-found power, we should be confident enough to volunteer at the Women Build project, which will start the following week. Foster's home will be built at 713 Shropshire Avenue May 6-14. Volunteers then have to get out of the way and allow the plumbers, electricians, drywall hangers, and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) folks do their thing.
The build starts again on May 27 and continues until the home is completed, around June 3.
Now let me at those power tools.