• Zanetta Ford-Byrd

Women's Build in the News!

Updated: May 15, 2020

From the Lexington News-Gazette's article published 3/11/2020:

Lowe’s, W&L Students Participate In Build Week

Saturday, with its clear blue sky, seemed like the perfect day for a construction project. Temperatures were at 40-50 degrees although the brisk breeze made it feel like it was in the 20s at times.

Rockbridge Area Habitat for Humanity and Lowe’s collaborated to help area residents participate in International Women Build Week. RAHFH selected Saturday, March 7, to recognize the project.

Across America about 6,000 women volunteers united in more than 235 communities throughout the week to build homes for people needing them.

Here in the Rockbridge area, not only were there Habitat and Lowe’s volunteers on the scene, but also Washington and Lee University students. The students included both undergraduates and law students, all participating in the community outreach program known as Nabors Service League. On this day, six students were on site working at the three houses being constructed currently.

One at the very top of the hill with magnificent views looking toward the Blue Ridge, for instance, had several W&L students painting sealant onto the base area of the house. This particular home was on Greenhouse Village’s only cul-de-sac. Because it was so high above everything, the intense breeze was penetrating for anyone standing up there for any length of time, but the students hardly noticed and just kept working.

A bit later, others came out of a vehicle carrying sheets of plywood toward the opening for a front door - the sheets to be used for sub-flooring soon to be installed in the house. A little lower down the hill though, a different sort of work was going on.

Another roadside house, along Vallance Way, had several workers across the road trimming metal and wooden pieces, which were then carried over toward the house and handed to several volunteers on stepladders to place up at the roof ledge. One of those working there was Peter van Dijk, an engineer originally from Holland but living now in Natural Bridge, who’s worked on a number of Habitat houses since he moved to the Rockbridge area. Also at the Vallance Way house, others were constructing a deck.

RAHfEI’s director of community relations, Zanetta Ford-Byrd, was busy Saturday not only tying balloons on the entryway to the area where they were building, but taking pictures of the volunteers and even taking time from coordinating with the construction supervisor, Leo Decanini, to run over to Subway to get subs for everyone to enjoy at the nearby pavilion during their noon break.

At that time, volunteer workers and Lowe’s employees were honored at the gathering and thanked by Executive Director Lynne Johnson.

Earlier in the day, several of those for whom the houses were being built were also on hand. Future homeowner Gina Jones was hard at work all morning and happened to meet up with her neighbor-to-be, Dane Campbell, who will live in a house to be built right next door. She exclaimed to Habitat’s Ford-Byrd, “I’m so excited!”

Jones’ house, Ford-Byrd explained later, is being built at Rockbridge County High School by the building trades class and will be moved to the site this year and completed. In the meantime, another of the three houses currently under construction, belonging to Isabel Soto, will be dedicated this spring.

Rockbridge Area Habitat for Humanity welcomes additional volunteers for its ongoing projects. More information can be found on the website.

Article and photos by Claudia Schwab

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