Women at work

Habitat of Kitsap to host second annual Women Build tomorrow in East Bremerton.

With seasoned pros leading the way, some women will get a crash course in construction tomorrow.

The second annual Habitat for Humanity of Kitsap County Women Build is from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. tomorrow at Cornerstone Place, Habitat’s 11-home development, off Sylvan Way in East Bremerton.

Karen Carlson, chair of Habitat for Humanity of Kitsap County’s Women Build Committee and board of directors member, said they have more than enough female volunteers scheduled to participate in tomorrow’s Women Build, but the public is invited to stop by the site at 8:30 a.m. for the event’s kickoff festivities.

Carlson said state Rep. Jan Angel, a representative from Congressman Norm Dicks’ office, Miss Kitsap Hannah Orando and Miss Poulsbo Heidi Nicks are scheduled to speak before the volunteers start swinging hammers.

Carlson said about 25 women are signed up to work on the Cornerstone Place site Saturday and they will be working on a house all day.

The first ever Kitsap Women Build was at the now-completed New Hope development in West Bremerton last year during National Women Build Week. This year’s National Women Build is May 2-10, in honor of Mother’s Day, and more than 7,000 female volunteers are expected to work at more than 200 Habitat for Humanity construction sites nationwide.

National Women Build Week is sponsored by Lowe’s and Carlson said the home improvement store has been offering how-to clinics in their stores in honor of the week. Lowe’s also has contributed millions of dollars to Habitat for Humanity over the years, according to Carlson.

“They’ve actually had a huge hand in this,” she said.

Carlson said Lowe’s will give Habitat for Humanity of Kitsap County a $5,000 grant after tomorrow’s Women Build.

Carlson said women make up 50 percent of Habitat’s volunteers, but only 15 percent of them actually volunteer on construction sites. She said she thinks women assume construction is a man’s job and do not feel confident in their construction skills.

“I think there’s a stigma, definitely,” Carlson said. “More than anything else we’re trying to empower women and get them to come out to work sites.”

She said families with children make up a large portion of the people who are in need of adequate housing and one in every six children lives in poverty.

“By bringing women volunteers into the whole process, it focuses more on families,” she said.

Carlson said men play large roles in Habitat for Humanity, but the organization would like women to feel comfortable volunteering alongside men on construction sites.

“It is not about excluding men, it’s about including women,” she said. “The movement is really growing.”

Carlson said she’s been involved with Habitat for Humanity of Kitsap County for 11 years. She loved working with the organization so much she got her daughters involved too.

“It is quite empowering,” she said.

While there are enough female volunteers for tomorrow’s event, Carlson said she hopes women will find time to volunteer with Habitat whenever they can because there are 11 homes to be built at Cornerstone Place.

“That’s the focus — not these Saturday events, but to volunteer,” Carlson said.

For more information about Habitat for Humanity of Kitsap County, visit the organization’s Web site at or call (360) 479-3853.

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