Lifestyle

The ABC's of construction

Marlene Edwards (right), of East Bremerton, looks on as Jane Baker, of Gig Harbor, nails a bird stop in place on a house in Cornerstone Place in East Bremerton. The women were two of the 15 who took part in last week
Marlene Edwards (right), of East Bremerton, looks on as Jane Baker, of Gig Harbor, nails a bird stop in place on a house in Cornerstone Place in East Bremerton. The women were two of the 15 who took part in last week's Habitat for Humanity International Women Build Leadership Training in Kitsap County.
— image credit: Photo by Rachel Brant

Habitat for Humanity of Kitsap County's newest construction site looked quite a bit different from other construction sites last week.

Women donned hardhats and tool belts to raise trusses on the frame of a house at the East Bremerton location last week as part of the first-ever West Coast Women Build Construction Leadership Training in Kitsap County.

Habitat for Humanity International's Women Build department, based in Georgia, presented the training in an effort to get more skilled women leaders involved with Habitat affiliates nationwide.

Terry Gaar, with Habitat International's Women Build department, said 50 percent of Habitat volunteers are women, but only 15 percent volunteer their time on construction sites.

"They think they have to have skills to get on site and they don't, we train them right there," Gaar said. "That's one of the reasons we do women-only builds."

Gaar said Habitat International put out the word about the training and Habitat for Humanity of Kitsap County stepped up and said they'd love to host the Women Build Leadership Training in Bremerton.

"They've been a great host," Gaar said of Kitsap County's Habitat affiliate.

Roughly fifteen women from Washington, Oregon and Idaho attended last week's Women Build Leadership Training. Women began by learning the basics of construction through classroom instruction, then used their newly acquired skills to help build a house at Cornerstone Place, Habitat for Humanity of Kitsap County's newest construction project.

"Some of them are quite skilled and for some of them this is their first time on a construction site," Gaar said of the women at last week's training.

Loujean Fobert traveled up from Oregon to teach the women the ins and outs of construction and said she enjoyed her week in Kitsap.

"It's been a great week. This has been a great group of women," Fobert said.

Kendra Meyer, of Bellingham, spent the week at leadership training in Bremerton. She works on fundraising efforts for Habitat for Humanity of Whatcom County and wanted to experience what it was like to participate on a construction site.

"It's the first time I've been on a build altogether," Meyer said. "To actually be out doing it is great."

Aside from learning the construction basics, Gaar said the women learned about green sustainable building practices as well during the weeklong training. She added the women occasionally trained until 8 or 9 p.m. some days.

Marlene Edwards, of East Bremerton, said she loved participating in the Women Build Leadership Training.

"This is an awesome experience," she said. "It's just been great. It's an experience you never forget."

Edwards works with AmeriCorps and used the training to gain more leadership experience. She said it was "empowering" to work on the house at Cornerstone Place and she plans to continue volunteering with Habitat after she is finished with AmeriCorps.

"I'm telling you, everyone who's ever come before has loved it and comes back," Edwards said. "It's been so much fun. I don't want to leave."

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