Flagler Habitat: empowering women, building homes

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  • | 4:00 a.m. May 5, 2015
Miss Florida US 2015 Kristie O€„¢Brien cuts siding at the Flagler Habitat Women Build Saturday, May 2.
Miss Florida US 2015 Kristie O€„¢Brien cuts siding at the Flagler Habitat Women Build Saturday, May 2.
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The job site at 1655 Water Oak Road, in Daytona North, was pinked out Saturday, May 2, with 35 women who joined together to put on siding for the Flagler Habitat for Humanity Women Build.

“Women Build” is Habitat for Humanity’s program created to empower women so they feel like they can serve on the worksite, too.

“The women’s build is all about including women, as opposed to excluding men,” said Lindsay Elliott, executive director of Flagler Habitat. “It’s creating a comfortable environment for women to come on the job site and take the forefront.”

One of the volunteer project coordinators, Jenn Kassan, said that empowering women to take the lead is the reason she got involved.

“I’ve been on a few builds where the men, goodheartedly, take over; but I wanted to be the one on the ladder, hammering nails,” she said. “How awesome it is to help out one of our community members? What I love about Habitat is it’s a hand-up, not a hand-out. I love that it empowers the homebuilders to be part of building their home and gets the community out to help them.”

Soon-to-be homeowner, Carmen Otero, who was building alongside volunteers Saturday with her son, Cristyan Espinal, 18, said that as a single mom, stepping into male-dominated roles is nothing new for her. She was thankful for her home to be chosen for the Women Build.

A big corporate partner for National Women Build Week is Lowe’s, which gives a $5,000 grant to each affiliate that participates in National Women’s Build Week. Nationwide, there are 300 Habitat affiliates participating, which brings the Habitat International grant total to $1.9 million just for Women Build Week.

The program brings together women from all walks of life to address the housing crisis facing millions of women and children worldwide. Employees from the Palm Coast Lowe’s joined volunteers for Palm Coast Community Church on the build site, along with newly crowned Miss Florida US Kristie O’Brien.

“It’s fun,” Elliott said, adding that homemade hand scrubs were available on breaks, thanks to last week’s DIY event. “As much as the guys are making fun of it, I think they like to see so many different volunteers come out.”

The Saturday build was just the beginning. Over the next several months, the committee will be fundraising and gathering volunteers for a full-house women build in September.




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