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Calling all wahine

<p>AmeriCorps National Construction Crew Leader, Sayer Houseal and Waimea residents Gwen Ahana and her daughter, Malia Ahana, work on a recent Habitat for Humanity project. (PHOTO COURTESY OF HABITAT FOR HUMANITY WEST HAWAII FOR NHN)</p>

AmeriCorps National Construction Crew Leader, Sayer Houseal and Waimea residents Gwen Ahana and her daughter, Malia Ahana, work on a recent Habitat for Humanity project. (PHOTO COURTESY OF HABITAT FOR HUMANITY WEST HAWAII FOR NHN)

<p>Volunteers work on a Habitat for Humanity project. PHOTO COURTESY OF HABITAT FOR HUMANITY WEST HAWAII FOR NHN</p>

Volunteers work on a Habitat for Humanity project. PHOTO COURTESY OF HABITAT FOR HUMANITY WEST HAWAII FOR NHN

Everybody knows Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 12, but not all realize that the week leading up to it is “National Women Build Week.” A partnership between Habitat for Humanity and Lowe’s, Women Build Week creates opportunities for women everywhere to get together, work as a team and experience the satisfaction that comes with helping others in a big way.

On Saturday, May 4, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Habitat for Humanity West Hawaii is challenging women aged 16 and up to join in a daylong neighborhood revitalization program in Waimea’s Kuhio Village.

“It’s going to be awesome,” said Erin Stephens of HHWH. Habitat may be better known for its new home construction, but the organization also works with communities to identify and help revitalize existing properties, as place-based projects. Because this project is more of a demolition than new construction, it’s being called a Women’s “Demo” as opposed to a “Build.”

“We work on critical home repairs, exterior painting, landscaping, and so forth,” said Stephens. “We will also aim to deconstruct a very large, and very old, greenhouse on the property,” said Stephens. “It is in danger of collapsing and it is a safety hazard for the family … We’re going to need a lot of hands.”

Of course, men are not excluded, though the focus of the Women’s Demo is to give women a safe and comfortable learning experience on the work site, and to engage the neighborhood. “It’s really all about that –a sustainable way for them to help one another.”

Stephens is a full-time volunteer with HHWH, originally from Boston, who signed on for a one-year stint, but loved it so much she decided to stay for a second year. (She was happy to say that all friends and family back home are safe.)

“I’ll be with Habitat the rest of my life,” she said. “It’s a brilliant model.”

School, church, sports and community groups, professional associations and employers are particularly urged to sign up for the project. One group that has already mobilized for the Women’s Demo is the new Kukui Chapter of the International Association of Administrative Professionals.

“Our Kukui Chapter, which includes members from Kauai, Maui, Oahu, Big Island and Canada, selected the Women’s Demo as our community activity for the year first to give back to our community,” said Mel Sanchez, Parker Ranch executive assistant and IAAP vice president. “And also show off our girl power and let everyone know that we can ‘be the one’ to make a real difference not just in our office teams but for our own families.”

Just a year old, the chapter is already active and engaged in the IAAP mission to enhance the success of career-minded administrative professionals by providing opportunities for growth through education, community building and leadership development. For more information see http://kukuichapter.wordpress.com – or attend a meeting to meet the members on May 4.

Everyone is invited to join in the Women’s Demo. All-day participation is ideal, but half-day volunteers are welcome if scheduling is a problem. Demo-ers should plan for rainy or sunny weather, with hat, sunscreen and layers, closed-toed shoes and gloves. Some tools are available, but extra rakes, shovels and other implements (labeled) will be appreciated. Lunch is provided. Advance registration is required. To sign up, email vista@westhawaiihabitat.org or call 331-8010.