Habitat for Humanity of Utah County began construction in May on a Provo home that, for the first time ever, will be built almost exclusively by women.
Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit organization devoted to building “simple, decent and affordable housing.” In years past, the organization has sponsored National Women Build Week, where women have come to work together on the construction of homes.
This year, however, the organization wanted to do something a little bit different.
“This is the first women-built house through Habitat for Humanity’s local affiliate,” said Habitat for Humanity of Utah County Volunteer Coordinator LeAnn Hillam. “We want it to be funded, sponsored and built almost exclusively by women.”
So far, women have come from all over the community to raise the money needed and build the home. In the end, the house will be built with almost 75 percent of the labor coming from women volunteers.
“The idea is to get women involved with affordable housing issues,” said Kena Mathews, executive director for Habitat for Humanity of Utah County. “We serve a lot of single moms. In fact, 60 percent of the people we work with are single parents with children.”
Krystle Long, the recipient of the home, is a single mother of two children whose husband passed away several years ago from a heroin overdose. She is also required to put in hours on the project and, according to Hillam, has been doing so with enthusiasm.
“She’s been there every single build day — every single one,” Hillam said. “In fact, I’m pretty sure she’ll go over her hours by the time the house is done.”
Long herself could not be more excited about the project.
“This means a lot to me,” Long said. “I have a lot of memories, difficult memories, in the house that I’m in now. I just cried out to God. I’ve never had luck, I’ve never gotten anything like this, but God has blessed me so much with this house.”
According to Long, the chance to work with the women of the community has connected her in a way she never expected.
“My heart just kept growing and growing for these women. I made a bunch of new friends and they’re almost family now,” Long said.
In order to get women involved, Habitat for Humanity has introduced a new fundraising campaign called “The Circle of 100.”
“We are asking 100 community women to donate $1,000 with the goal of raising $100,000 for the three bedroom, two bathroom Provo home,” the Habitat for Humanity website says. “Women can write a check themselves, get their friends and family to donate towards the $1,000, hold a bake sale, raise funds on social media, etc.”
Each of the 100 women who raise $1,000 will also receive a full “volunteer build day” where they can bring nine other women to help work on the house.
Various groups of women have stepped in to participate, including a group of Intermountain Health Care employees, UVU’s First Lady Paige Holland and local singer Mindy Gledhill.
According to Mathews, the project has become almost spiritual as the women continue to engage in the project.
“We haven’t dry walled yet, so the women have started to write messages on the wall to the recipient of the home. They’re really engaged for eternity, in a way,” Mathews said.
The project is expected to be completed sometime in September.
Though many women have participated already, Habitat for Humanity is still looking for women who want to be part of “The Circle of 100.” Volunteers can find out more information online about getting involved.