Women power building in Summerville

  • Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Volunteers from across the community, including employees of Walmart and Home Depot, are busy at work. A.M. SHEEHAN/JOURNAL SCENE --

Once again, women reign during the annual Hammers and Heels Women Build for Habitat for Humanity where droves congregated for the 48th Habitat Home wall raising.
About 50 volunteers arrived at the building site on Miken Lane in Summerville at 8 a.m. sharp Monday, hammers in hand, to help Nicole Parker build her house.
Parker, who was chosen as this year’s recipient of the Women Build 2013 home, will be the proud owner of that last home to be built in the Corey Woods neighborhood.
Mother of three sons ages 9, 4 and 3, Parker has already surpassed the hours of “sweat equity” required by Habitat for Humanity with 525 hours.
“Two years ago I read about Habitat online,” said Parker, “and got involved.” She has helped build four houses to date and Monday, she hammered her first nail into her own home.
Parker works full time as an HSA at the Coastal Center.
“Women Build is the most popular build we do each year,” said Development Manager Monica Nagy. “It’s a way to empower women to take a stand against women and child poverty.”
However the build is not discriminatory and men are allowed to join in. There were about five or so men hammering away including Construction Supervisor Bob Barnett.
There were also teams of women – the largest (and loudest) the Home Depot team of about 15 women from the West Ashley, North Charleston and Summerville Home Depots as well as Home Depot regional and local district leaders.
The Home Depot team stressed that Home Depot is big on women and leadership, pushing its female employees to be leaders.
“When we build a house, we also build relationships,” said Tracie Hinkle, store manager.
Home Depot also donated $2,000 to the project as well as giving a 10 percent discount on materials.
Walmart also had a team of individual employees from the Dorchester Road Walmart who decided on their own to volunteer and represent Walmart. This is the first time Walmart has been represented at a build, according to Executive Director Jaye Jones Elliott.
Home Team Pest Control also mounted a team.
Summerville Branch Manager Shannon Hatcher of Sun Trust, another sponsor of the build with a donation of $5,000, worked alongside the women getting the frame built.
Other teams that will work throughout the week – which also happens to be National Women Build Week – will include Flowertown Elementary PTA, ALCOA and PEPSI teams as well as the Faithful Few team which volunteers every Thursday throughout the build.
Tessa Spencer, 2013 Women Build’s Community Partner who is a co-anchor of the Good Morning Charleston and Lowcountry Live shows on the ABC News 4 WCIV Team, worked her way through the construction site in bright red sneakers stopping to speak with every volunteer.
Spencer is this build’s community partner. She is the face of the project, getting the word out through social media and her TV station to encourage volunteers.
“When it comes to getting women involved, especially building for a woman, the station is a big supporter,” said Spencer.
Architect Rachel Burton of Swallowtail Architectural Group in Summerville, has designed all of the habitat houses in the small development.
“We keep the same size (footprint) for all the homes and try to make them as versatile and user-friendly as possible,” she said, noting the houses have evolved since the first one, each incorporating lessons learned.
Burton said the projects cost about $60,000 to build. While plumbing and electrical work must be done by certified tradesmen, often an electrician or plumber will volunteer to do the work.
Burton noted the Town of Summerville is a huge supporter of Habitat.
Elliott explained the land costs $15,000 and the materials about $50,000. The homeowner will take out a 20-year, interest-free mortgage with Habitat as the mortgagor. The “buyer” must put in hours of sweat equity, provided a modest down payment/closing costs and sign a second mortgage that gives Habitat the difference between the mortgage and fair market value should the homeowner decide to sell.
The owner has an affordable $400 or so a month mortgage payment which includes property taxes, termite bond and property insurance. Owners are required to take financial classes to ensure they are successful at home ownership.
Also attending the Monday morning event were Tammie Taylor, board member; Michelle Rizzo, board president; Alice Young, board vice president; and Ellen Priest, publisher, The Journal Scene.

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