WEST SPRINGFIELD — The Habitat for Humanity Women Build Week event, sponsored by Lowe’s, is an opportunity to spread the positive and powerful message of “women helping women” and facilitate in building stronger and safer communities.
During the weeklong event, which began March 8, women from all walks of life and skill levels have come together to work on a job site. Under the guidance of construction professionals, the group learns new skills and/or adds to their repertoire.
At Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity (GSHFH), the event has been a staple for several years teaming up with Lowe’s. This year, GSHFH has partnered with Western Mass. Tradeswomen to empower and encourage women volunteers to become involved on the build site.
“This is an awesome opportunity to showcase the skills of women and prove gender shouldn’t dictate capability,” said Brandice O’Brien, Marketing and Communications manager at GSHFH. “Whether the women on these build sites are construction workers or volunteers, they are simply ‘women helping women.’ The house they are working on is for a single mother.”
Western Mass. Tradeswomen is a network of female construction workers in Western Mass., Northern Conn., and Worcester. The majority of the women are in unions. They meet regularly to support one another, build their labor movement, and promote union construction careers for girls and women. The group began several years ago on the construction site of what is now MGM Springfield, where, because of a project labor agreement, workforce-diversity goals were consistently met by contractors.
“It has been a joy to get to work on a project with my sisters this week. We are skilled professionals, we love what we do, and it has been really fun to get to share that together,” said Amy Calandrella of Western Mass. Tradeswomen, who organized the tradeswomen volunteers for this year’s Women Build Week. She is a journeyman operating engineer with International Union of Operating Engineers Local 98 and serves on the board of the Western Massachusetts Area Labor Federation.
During Women Build 2021, GSHFH construction crew and volunteers are working on a two-story, four-bedroom house in Springfield for single mother Ana and her children. Volunteers help with inside finish work, painting, installing cabinets and countertops, building the front-porch rails, and putting in the walkway.
GSHFH is a housing ministry dedicated to strengthening communities by empowering low-income families to change their lives and the lives of future generations through homeownership and home-repair opportunities. This is accomplished by working in partnership with diverse people, from all walks of life, to build and repair simple, decent, affordable housing. Habitat’s mission to provide homeownership opportunities to low-income families is unique as it requires partner families to work alongside the community that is reaching out to help them. GSHFH has helped roughly 100 local families realize their dream of homeownership over the last 33 years.