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Fairfield County Women Build for a Good Cause

Mary Himes had never used a circular saw before Women Build Week. But during the event, she and a collection of other women from Fairfield, Stratford, Greenwich and other Coastal Fairfield County towns took up the tools for the first time earlier this month. Their goal was to help put together a new house for a Bridgeport mother through Habitat for Humanity .

“Working with a group of women created a supportive environment where we could learn new skills, however basic, and feel good about our progress,” said Greenwich’s Himes, wife of U.S. Rep. Jim Himes. “To know that this was helping a single mom have a safe home made the day even more special.“

Women Build is a Habitat for Humanity program that specializes in teaching women how to help female home recipients. Single mothers head more than 70 percent of the families that receive Habitat for Humanity homes. Women Build trains volunteers in how to tackle technical jobs involved in building a home, so they can pass those techniques along to the new homeowners.

“The intention is to teach these females some of the skills that they might not otherwise get to do,” said Caitlin Scanlan, Habitat for Humanity of Coastal Fairfield County development director. “So when they step onto the job site the next time, they can take a leadership role themselves.”

For example, the Coastal Fairfield County branch is raising money to build an eight-unit townhouse in Stamford. One person who will receive those new homes is a Stamford single mother. Like all Habitat recipients, she will put in 500 hours of her own labor for the chance to buy the house at cost on an interest-free mortgage.

The work the women did will go toward another of the Coastal Fairfield County branch’s projects in Bridgeport. The city donated the land to build seven homes in Connecticut’s largest city. The Women’s Build Week crew put together a wall that will go up in one of those new homes.

Habitat is always looking for more hands to help. Though the Women’s Build program is geared toward adult women, the organization will take help from anyone in any age group or skill level.

“[We look for] anybody that’s willing to be a part of the mission and learn a little bit more about how we’re working to build a better community,” Scanlan said. Those interested can contact the volunteer coordinator at 203-333-2642 or the Coastal Fairfield County website .

Photo identification, from left: Mikaela Dennison of Bridgeport, Alexandra Annelli of Milford, Maria Elena Yrigoyen of Monroe, Lisa Cannella of Norwalk, Mary Himes of Greenwich, Julianna Calvin of Bridgeport, Eileen Bakos of Stratford, Ada Lopez of Bridgeport, and Caitlin Scanlan of New Haven.

Do you know of any volunteers working in your town? Send photos and information to gcanuel@mainstreetconnect.us .

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