The Comox Valley Women’s Business Network is the main sponsor of the Habitat for Humanity North Island Women Build. Photo by Kim Sleno Photography

Building up women and community with Habitat

Terri Perrin encourages women to not only pick it up, but look outside the toolbox.

The community engagement manager for Habitat for Humanity Vancouver Island North is helping co-ordinate a Women Build – only the second one on the North Island.

“The Women Build started in the late ’90s in the U.S., but it does not mean we’re excluding men. The program invites women to learn new skills and to empower them; it’s very inclusive.”

The build will focus on 0.83 of an acre at 1330 Lake Trail Road, where five duplexes will be built over the course of three years.

Perrin says the organization is currently waiting for the lots to be serviced and foundation to be poured, which is expected to be completed by early April.

“Affordable housing is so important, so that’s why we’re pushing ahead. Our slogan is ‘every woman has the power to build community.’ ”

Women – and men – are encouraged to join the build as volunteers, but if building experience is lacking, Perrin notes individuals can register to be a site host – a position which is responsible for check-in, personal protective equipment and organizing lunches.

Volunteer positions are also available for those who want to work with tools and construction. Perrin encourages anyone interested to register online at habitatnorthisland.com

Each build site has a few employees on site, including a site supervisor and project manager who are “very adept at building homes,” adds Perrin.

“We hope to have two families in the homes by the end of October, and two more (homes) locked up (siding and windows and doors installed) by the fall … over the course of one home, will have around 600 volunteers on site. On an average day, we need about 10 volunteers, Tuesday to Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.”

Coffee, snacks and lunch will be provided to all volunteers thanks to community partners such as Plates Catering & Eatery, St. George’s United Church and Frankie Jo’s Cafe.

Habitat for Humanity builds sustainable and affordable homes in partnership with working families. Homes are not given away, explains Perrin, rather they are sold with zero interest mortgages to eligible families, with candidates willing to do 500 hours of sweat equity (hours of volunteer labour a person puts into working for Habitat).

In order to kick off the Women Build event, Habitat is hosting a launch party March 22 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the K’omoks Band Hall at 3330 Comox Road.The event will provide an introduction to Women Build, introduce the homeowners and provide details about the Women Build fundraising campaign.

Perrin says the Women Build will challenge women on the North Island to work on the project while raising funds with the idea of 100 women raising $100,000 in 100 days.

“This is a fun way to challenge local businesses, faith groups and schools. I know this community is amazing and one thing women are very good at is networking.”

The fundraising goal is set from March 23 to June 30, and the volunteer to build timeline is from April 14 through Oct. 31.

Admission to the kick-off event is by donation, but anyone interested is asked to register in advance at: https://goo.gl/MujGKY

The organization is also looking for dessert or gift donations for the event, or sponsors for the build. For more information or to donate, contact Perrin at 250-218-4952 or email terri@habitatnorthisland.com.

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