MANCHESTER —Traditionally, women could be found in the kitchen while men performed manual labor and made a living for the household.
Times have changed.
On Wednesday, about 26 women showed up to a construction site on Jennifer Lane to help build a Habitat for Humanity home together. The Women Build day is an extension of Habitat's national Women Build program that helps teach them skills associated with construction, building homes and getting involved in the community. Various community members, realtors and six young ladies from Burr & Burton Academy joined the Bennington Area Habitat for Humanity to continue the process of building a home for a Samantha Stone, a single mother of two girls.
Four groups of seven volunteers worked on proper ventilation, caulking, foaming, house wrapping, cleaning up the basement and setting up frames for rooms, and installing structures for a deck, to name a few. Each group had a leader who has volunteered or worked with the organization for years.
They volunteered from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Building takes place on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The future homeowner, Stone, is required to contribute 200 hours of sweat equity — labor — and has banked about 60 so far.
"It's a lot more group working. I noticed a lot more pairs [working together] on our normal days versus groups," Stone said regarding an all women volunteer day.
Stone is an uncertified nursing assistant who lives in an apartment in Manchester and applied for the home in March. She received acceptance at the beginning of July. Her family helps out watching her children while she works and builds the house.
"This is the exciting part. The roof took a long time to get in place and get rolling. But now, this other stuff will go fairly quickly," she said. "I took a woodshop class in high school, that was the end of my carpentry career."
She said the male supervisors really encourage others to take part and learn about a process.
"They don't get frustrated with you because you've never swung a hammer before, or because you don't know how to do something," she said. "Even if it takes twice as long, they want you to do it yourself. Doing something yourself like this, I mean, I never understood the amount of care that goes into building a home. There's so many layers. It's kind of impressive. It's not something I would have known had I not been a part of each process."
She added that once she has a space of her own, she'll study to become a certified medical assistant. "It's never seemed like the right time. I didn't feel like [the apartment] was ever settled."
The home is projected to be finished by February 2017.
Bonnie Chandler is a realtor and said it was something she wanted to be a part of when she heard about the opportunity. Her tasks included filling buckets to install sono tubes for the deck foundation and mix concrete.
"I'm really grateful for the house that I have and I wanted to give back to the community," Chandler said. "[Favorite part was] meeting a lot of people."
Burr & Burton Academy Mountain Campus faculty Cynthia Mowry accompanied the six students for their weekly Wednesday morning service. Mowry spent the morning on the roof of the house while the girls were split up into groups.
"The girls thought it was so empowering to see women doing all these things and [they were] asking questions and not afraid to get up on scaffolding and use saws," Mowry said. "As we left, my student said I can't wait to see the house how it turns out."
One international student asked Mowry who pays for the workers time at the construction site because she didn't realize they were all volunteers who didn't get paid.
This is the second time BBA has paired up with Habitat for Humanity and Mowry said she plans to continue the partnership.
Women Build events occur all throughout the year in many different states in order to bring women together to address the housing crisis facing women and children nationwide, according to the Habitat site. No experience is needed to volunteer.
For more information on the local chapter, visit benningtonareahabitat.com.
Contact Makayla-Courtney McGeeney at 802-490-6471.