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Group's work making houses into homes is rewarding

August 31, 2010|By MARIE GILBERT
  • Connie Creighton peers from window of a current Women Build project in Boonsboro. She is chairperson of the volunteer program that is part of Habitat for Humanity of Washington County.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer,

It's a warm spring morning and a dozen women are working hard to complete the frame of a ranch-style house in Boonsboro.

There are teachers, lawyers, nurses and a handful of retirees -- all wearing goggles and hardhats.

Their project looks like something from Bob the Builder with top and bottom plates, wall studs and headers, and faux doorways.

Fast forward several months and the house is close to becoming a home -- a dream come true for a deserving family.

Since May, members of the construction crew have spent most of their free time turning floor plans into a reality. It's what they do as volunteers with Women Build, a program of Habitat for Humanity of Washington County.

Connie Creighton has devoted about 100 hours to each house project on which she has volunteered. Others, she said, have devoted much more to the program's efforts to build affordable housing for families in need.

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"For me, the work is incredibly rewarding," she said.

Creighton recently was selected as chairwoman of the 80-member group, taking the reins from Pam Meredith, who now focuses on construction activities.

Creighton, who originally is from Tionesta, Pa., and lives in Hagerstown, has been a volunteer with Women Build for two years.

"Interestingly enough, I reconnected with a childhood friend from Pennsylvania who moved to the Hagerstown area a few years ago," she said. "We hadn't seen each other for nearly 30 years and when we reconnected, she encouraged me to join the Women Build program."

Creighton said she grew up helping her father with home improvement projects, "so I had a fair amount of experience as a 'go-fer,'" she said. "But I never imagined I would have the opportunity to work on a ground-up project like the Habitat houses."

The house in Boonsboro is the fifth Women Build project, Creighton said, and is nearly finished. The group is working on interior trim, finishes and landscaping. A dedication ceremony will be Sunday, Sept. 26.

Plans have begun for groundbreaking on house number six in early 2011, she said.

Creighton, who works as a manager of office facilities for an engineering company in Frederick, Md., said being part of Women Build gives her a sense of personal accomplishment.

"It is also great to work alongside the family who will own the house," she said. "It's great to see them marvel at the whole process of seeing their house raised from the ground up. The most moving part is when you know they start thinking of it as their home."

The very best, she said, "is when they project into the future and share plans about how they will hold holiday or family events in their new home or talk about things as simple as doing the laundry, organizing the closets or watching a football game."

Creighton also enjoys watching Women Build volunteers learn and try something for the first time.

"We all have our own reasons for working with this organization and it's gratifying to watch someone achieve a personal goal through their work," she said.

As chairwoman, Creighton said, her role is to provide general oversight for the volunteer efforts and ensure the administrative details and requirements are handled. She is supported by a strong committee system, and by people from the community who provide training and donations.

Women Build is not exclusively female. "We're open to men, as well," Creighton said. "... The premise of the program is to give women opportunities to learn, practice and support Habitat construction activities."

Anyone interested in learning more about Women Build may call Habitat for Humanity of Washington County at 301-791-9009 or attend an open monthly meeting on Monday, Sept. 13, at 6 p.m. at the Plaza Hotel, 1718 Underpass Way, Hagerstown.

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