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Area women come together to build homes

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Mardina Woods had never installed frames and baseboards on a house until she had to help build her own home this week.

Woods was one of more than 60 women who helped build five townhomes for Habitat for Humanity at the intersection of Thomas Drive and Flint River Road in Riverdale.

Woods also will be an owner of one of those townhomes. It will be the second home she has owned in her lifetime. She lost the first one in a divorce.

"Being able to help build your home makes you a little more understanding about the process and what it takes to build a home," said Woods, who currently lives in McDonough. "Thank God for Habitat for Humanity, because they gave me the opportunity to have my own home," she said.

Habitat for Humanity's international office called this week's project "Women Build," because of a national project sponsored by the organization and Lowes. It is held in conjunction with Mother's Day on Sunday.

"We try to play on that," said Cara Welch, chief development officer for Southern Crescent Habitat for Humanity. "We tell women to 'Bring mom out and have fun.'"

About half of all Habitat for Humanity volunteers are women, according to Habitat's Southern Crescent office. Additionally, more than 60 percent of the people who receive Habitat for Humanity homes are women who serve as heads of their households.

"To me, it's a great feeling of accomplishment to help a single mother get a home," said Linda Burnett, a manager at Lowes in Riverdale. Lowes volunteers came from stores in Riverdale, Stockbridge, McDonough, Newnan, Fayetteville, Conyers, Edgewood and Griffin, she said.

Future Habitat for Humanity homeowners are required to commit 250 hours to help build their new home, as well as the homes of other people. Habitat officials call it "sweat equity" hours.

"It's been very enlightening," said Adria Hobgood, a Jonesboro resident, and future Habitat for Humanity homeowner, who helped Woods build her town home. "It's good to work with different people and learn about their situations," Hobgood added.

Frankie Willis, co-owner of Trucks, Inc., visited the construction site on Thursday as part of Habitat for Humanity's "Women Build" media day. Willis talked about what it is like to be a women who owns a company, and encouraged the female builders to follow their dreams.

"The wish part is what you want in life, the craft part is how you get it," she said.

Clayton County Juvenile Court Judge Steve Teske spoke to the women on Thursday during lunch. Teske is a member of Southern Crescent Habitat for Humanity's board of directors.

"It's great when you can see women who have found a way around that glass ceiling," Teske told the volunteers. "Every time you swing that hammer, you are helping a young person feel safe."