The Rapidian

Habitat for Humanity raises walls in Wealthy Heights neighborhood

Habitat for Humanity of Kent County's Women Build program hopes to revitalize local neighborhood.
Volunteers from Habitat for Humanity of Kent County participate in wall-raising ceremony

Volunteers from Habitat for Humanity of Kent County participate in wall-raising ceremony /Carol Shirey

Underwriting support from:

/Carol Shirey

On Friday November 16, 2012, community members from throughout Kent County participated in a wall-raising ceremony with Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build program. The wall-raising ceremony took place at 307 Robey Place SE, and construction on the house will continue for four months.

A contingent of volunteers from throughout Kent County are helping to build the new house in the Wealthy Heights neighborhood.

“We’re doing a neighborhood revitalization project and this is one of 10 projects that we have going on in this neighborhood,” says Mary Buikema, Habitat Kent’s executive director.“ Homeowners care for a neighborhood [and] this is what brings life to this community.”

Women volunteers swung hammers, leveled walls and read design plans, as a part of the Women Build program, underwritten by Lowe’s.

“Lowe’s is proud to underwrite Women Build, which brings together women from all walks of life to raise walls while knocking down barriers to affordable housing,” says Joan Higginbotham, director of Lowe’s Community Relations.

“It’s a real transformational experience for women to come together and do something they typically don’t do,” says Buikema, “it empowers women to make change, to come together and see a house come together for a family.”

Habitat for Humanity of Kent County was established in 1983, and has helped more than 350 families to achieve home ownership. While Buikema acknowledged that some people may think that Habitat for Humanity of Kent County gives homes away, this is not the case. The family will be purchasing the house after completion, she explains.

“This is not a home built by women as a giveaway. It's a home ownership program,” says Buikema, “because she [the home buyer] is here putting her own sweat equity into this house, and the ability to pay her mortgage over a 20-30 year period is what's key to this transformational experience.”

“When the first wall was raised today, the homeowner burst into tears. I think it was so powerful to see that because it was a symbol of what's to come, kind of a new life, new stability for her and her child and it was really a powerful thing to see,” says Buikema.

The home on 307 Robey Place SE should be completed by Mother’s Day, Feb 10, 2013, and Habitat for Humanity of Kent County invites men and women alike to sign up on their website, www.habitatkent.org, to volunteer in the coming months.

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