Women Build House

John Metz (left) is the center of attention as he teaches Amanda Wilson, Micheal Washington and Suzie Pierson how to use a power saw. The women are helping Marion County Habitat for Humanity build its seventh house.

Even outside the little blue house on Big Tree Drive, it was hard to tell which was louder, the whine of a power saw or the laughter of the women learning to use it.

This is the seventh house that Marion County Habitat for Humanity has built. On Thursdays and Saturdays, everyone can help.

But Tuesday nights are for women only. And this was Tuesday night.

“Tuesdays are for women who always wanted to work with Habitat but may have felt intimidated about coming to a work site and trying a task they’d never done before in front of a bunch of men,” said Habitat executive director Suzanne Goralczyk.

“Tuesday nights, we allow women to try their hand at it in a nonintimidating environment, and then they can come back to the worksite Thursday and Saturday.”

The idea is that then they’ll help with the Women Build House, which will be built completely by women in 2008. First, more female volunteers are needed, she said.

Beverly Vogel of Fairmont and a friend, both teachers at Monongah Elementary, have worked on this house since its foundation.

“We’ve done a little bit of everything. This is just the next phase of our training,” Vogel said. “We’ve learned so much ... all different kinds of skills. It’s fun.”

She loves teaching, she said.

“But this is just something entirely different, a different mindset. It’s a different part of me. And we’re helping people. I enjoy that, too.”

This was her first time with a power saw.

“Power tools are still a little scary for me,” she said with a nervous laugh. But she’s liked the whole process, she said, from putting up drywall to sanding.

“Well, I’m not crazy about the sanding. It’s not hard; it’s just messy.”

John Metz, construction instructor for Mon YouthBuild, was teaching the crew how to cut and put in trim, or cope, he said.

“That’s a term used to bring two corners together on base molding. They’re doing great. It’s not easy to run a coping saw.”

As with everything else they’ve done, if they don’t do something correctly, they tear it out and do it again. Vogel likes that.

“These houses are built correctly. There’s no shoddiness, no surprises.”

With the walls primed and ready to be painted, heat on and plumbing in, the house is set to be completed by the end of April.

Holly Fluharty of Fairmont and her husband are looking to buy a house. This inspired her to help with Habitat.

“I love the chance to help others have homes that they could come home to be with their family.”

This was her first night there and she intends to return, she said.

“I would very much like to be part of the Women Build project for 2008.”

Don’t think you have the time for something like this? Think again, she said.

“Make the time. It’s only a couple of hours from your week, and you will get so much back than what you give.

“All those women out there: Get your tool belts on and come on out.”

Another special aspect of this house is the involvement of Mon YouthBuild students. Mon YouthBuild offers GED and construction instruction for young adults age 17-24 without a high school diploma.

“They’re typically low income and typically high school dropouts. By the end of the program, they’ll have their GED and also know a trade,” Metz said.

For more information on Marion County Habitat for Humanity, call Goralczyk at 363-4244.

E-mail Debra Minor Wilson at dwilson@timeswv.com.

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