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Group raises cash for Habitat house

October 08, 2006|by CANDICE BOSELY

It's a house that's going to be built almost entirely by women and for a single mother with three daughters.

And one male cat.

Volunteers with Women Build, a group of women with Habitat for Humanity of Washington County, are expected to begin next spring building a house on Wayside Avenue for Melissha Vaughn and her three daughters, Alexcia, 6; Aaliyah, 4; and Amiya, 8 months old.

Vaughn said she decided to apply for a Habitat for Humanity house after a friend went through the process and was pleased. Plus, she said, she has been living in public housing and is worried about the possible effects that might have on her children.

"Their surroundings are going to determine who they are going to be," she said.

She found out a little more than a week ago that she had been approved for a home, and that hers would be constructed by members of Women Build.

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"I was ecstatic," Vaughn, 26, said.

She said she's especially excited that her daughters will have a yard.

"One of my biggest plans is to be able to get them a swing set. That's one of my No. 1 (priorities)," she said.

Women will build Vaughn's house from the ground up, although some work, such as the electricity and plumbing, will need to be reviewed by a licensed professional, said Sherry Beer, a volunteer with Women Build.

Exceeding expectations

Before Vaughn's house can be built, Women Build must raise $65,000. They've already raised $10,000 and hope to raise the remaining $55,000 through donations and fundraisers.

Women Build volunteers decided not to build a home this year so they could instead concentrate on fundraising efforts for next year's project.

Members of the group - which is open to women of all skill levels - are taking classes on various construction methods and plan to build two sheds for practice. Those sheds will be sold to raise money.

Anna Reiber, of Hagerstown, participated in last year's first Women Build project.

"I've never been so tired," she said.

Helping to raise the walls was one task with which she assisted, as well as attaching framing to a concrete pad, which she said was the most difficult part of the project.

"Sledgehammers," she said simply.

She said she exceeded her expectations, noting that her fear of heights did not prevent her from climbing onto the peak of the home's roof to help with shingling.

"Somehow they got me to do things you never thought you could do," Reiber said.

For Reiber, a single mother who had her share of difficult times, it's a way to give back.

"It was my way of helping someone else," she said. "If you can help one other person ... you know what they're going through."

Camaraderie a benefit

Women Build programs are in place across the country, but it was only recently that one started in Hagerstown. Word-of-mouth and an advertisement helped to attract volunteers.

"They thought it was an awesome idea and an empowering idea," Beer said.

The house built by Women Build last year was mostly finished in three days as part of a "blitz build." Next year's project will be built more slowly.

Plenty of lessons were learned last year, Beer and Reiber said.

"We learned some things the hard way. Goggles, they should be worn at all times," Beer said.

Wearing old clothes also is a necessity.

"I've never been so dirty, I don't think. Even when I was a kid, I don't think I was that dirty," Reiber said of the mud, silicone and paint that got on clothing at different points in the building process.

Along with selling the sheds, other fundraisers by Women Build include raffling a wooden model train built by Beer's father, Larry Stackpole, of Buckhannon, W.Va.

A golf tournament will be held on Oct. 20 at Black Rock Golf Course. Teams of four - participants can be men or women - will start at 10 a.m. with a shotgun start. The cost is $100 per player.

And donations earmarked for Women Build can be dropped off at Habitat for Humanity's office at 20 S. Prospect St., Hagerstown.

Women Build meets on the second Monday of each month - the next meeting is Monday, Oct. 9 - at 6:15 p.m. at Washington County Technical High School, 50 W. Oak Ridge Drive, Hagerstown.

"Any woman that wants to join, whether she knows how to use a hammer or whether she's skilled in something, we welcome them all. And we're willing to learn," Beer said.

With last year's project came bumps and bruises, as well as camaraderie.

"We had a blast. We really did. All of us women got to bond," Beer said. "And now we're going to do it again."

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