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Women work in the rain to provide shelter for family

September 07, 2008|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

HAGERSTOWN - The insistent pounding of hammers shot through the driving rain Saturday morning at 951 Concord St. in Hagerstown, where members of Habitat for Humanity of Washington County's Women Build gathered to raise the walls of a new home.

Rain-drenched women of all ages labored among the emerging walls in leather tool belts and bright yellow T-shirts bearing the image of a World War II-era working woman and the words "We Can Do It!"

Pam Meredith, 58, of Marlowe, W.Va., chairwoman of the project, said Women Build is a Habitat for Humanity program established in 1998 to train women to make a difference by building homes and communities.

Meredith said the Concord Street home will be the third constructed by Women Build in Hagerstown.

About 35 people toiled in the downpour for Saturday's effort.

"We have a lot of women and a few good men out here," Meredith said.

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When the group arrived at 8 a.m., all that existed was a foundation and subflooring. Using materials from a home construction kit, volunteers erected all the interior and exterior walls and installed a bathtub.

As the crew drove in the final nails, shouts, hollers and whistles erupted from within the structure. The women stepped outside onto the work site and celebrated, sopping wet and slogging in mud up to their ankles.

Women Build volunteer Sherry Beer, 42, of Hagerstown, said the heavy rain, which had been forecast to accompany Tropical Storm Hanna, did not deter the group.

"We figured (the rain) was going to be here," Beer said. "I don't think anyone thought twice about it."

Volunteer Dottie Helfrick, 67, of State Line, Pa., said she has participated in Women Build projects before.

"It's the best group of people," Helfrick said. "Everybody comes with the idea that they are going to work."

Arleen Shuster, 47, of Hagerstown, said when she is working with Women Build, her mind is "100 percent focused."

"It's great to be helping people learning, and working with this wonderful group of women," Shuster said. "What more could you want? And being out here today certainly makes you appreciate a warm shower."

Meredith said that Habitat for Humanity has not yet chosen a family to receive the house, but it plans to do so soon.

"We would like a family in before the holidays so they can celebrate like everybody else, with a turkey in their own home," Meredith said.

Women Build meets the second Monday of every month at 6 p.m. at Oliver's Pub and Restaurant at the Long Meadow Shopping Center. Interested parties are welcome to attend.

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