Empowerment builds women

Women broke a perceived barrier while coming together to help a family in need during Women Build Week.

Sounds of hammers and saws filled an area community, but those weren't men wearing hard hats. About 30 Catawba County women joined forces to help build a Habitat for Humanity house, which will soon be the home of Gayle Bumgarner.

"It's 'I can do it,'" said Anne Beach, of Habitat for Humanity of Catawba Valley. "It's an empowerment. There is a lot of paperwork and credit issues (for Habitat homeowners). It's a neat thing to watch their growth."

Beach said becoming a homeowner builds a person's self-confidence, which is evident for Habitat staff who work with an individual from the start of a process until the completion and dedication of a home.

"That's the Women Build symbol," Beach said. "It shows what women can do and what women do."

Bumgarner, 51, is anxious to see who home built, so she took the opportunity to go out and help other community women build her future home.

"It's kind of powerful seeing all the women working out here," Bumgarner said, adding this is the first time she's done construction work.

With Mother's Day approaching Sunday, as well as Bumgarner's birthday, Bumgarner said it's icing on the cake for her to have this event days before.

"(Wednesday) seems like such a sisterhood, mother day," she said.

"Women coming together to help women."

Prior to Wednesday's Women Build event, Lowe's on U.S. 70 in Hickory hosted a training session for women building the house for Habitat, as well as other interested county residents.

Janie Patton, general manager at the Lowe's, said the training session taught the women the types of tools available for construction and how to use the equipment appropriately.

"I didn't know there were many types of hammers," Bumgarner said, laughing, but added she learned a lot attending the class and looks forward to more training sessions on electricity and plumbing.

Patton, who taught the training class with Lowe's employees Angela Wilson and Susan Chastain, said the training class gave the women self-confidence to do Wednesday's project.

"They had a blast," Patton said. "The ladies feel comfortable and ready to take on the project. You could see the pride (Bumgarner) took on as she has a part in building her home."

Lowe's Women Build is in its fourth year and contributed $7,500 for the Habitat home. However, Lowe's has assisted Habitat for Humanity since 1998. Beach said home sponsorships are low because of a bad economy.

After Lowe's contributation, Habitat must wait for more funds to continue building Bumgarner's home.

Patton said by 2013, Lowe's will have contributed $40 million to national Habitat for Humanity organizations.

"Lowe's is in the business of helping people improve and maintain their homes," Patton said. "Through our partnership with Habitat and our employee volunteers offering their expertise on build sites, we are honored to help support Habitat's mission of making decent, affordable housing a reality for partner families."