Women in Proctorville construct Habitat for Humanity homes

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 14, 2007

Gone are the days when men dominated the building trades. Now, a group of women have joined together to build a home doing all the work for Habitat for Humanity.

Twelve women at the Proctorville Animal Clinic have been building homes. Connie Hysell, of Chesapeake, organized the group.

The house is in Huntington, W.Va., at the corner of Highland and St. Louis streets.

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“I went over three times,” she said. “We had our staff meeting and one of the other girls that works here brought it up because she heard it on the radio.”

Hysell made the contacts with Habitat for Humanity and got the female employees to go.

That was three months ago. Since then the women went in three different teams and worked on the house on Saturdays.

“The first time we went over, I helped hang siding, put in insulation and the last time we hung up lattice work,” Hysell said. “We learned how to operate some saws which is pretty cool.”

There are volunteers, an electrician and the supervisor who teach and guide the women who do all the work.

“Anyone can go over to volunteer,” said Sarah Whitt, of Scottown. “It’s open to any woman who wants to build.”

One of the jobs was loading up a pickup full of extra garbage from the site.

“We had the truck loaded to the hilt,” Whitt said. “We took it to the dump and unloaded everything. Women worked, that’s it. A man drove the truck but he stood beside the truck and took pictures of me and Connie unloading the truck.”

The women had to get rid of the old driveway that was there made up of concrete with re-bars.

“We had sledge hammers and picks and we were out there beating all that up,” Whitt said. “The women do all the work. What an experience. My heart just wanted to jump out of my chest. It was amazing.”

The electrician directed the women while they did all the wiring also. The women also insulated underneath the house.

“They’ve done a good job,” said Daryl Kinch, of Lesage, W.Va., who has been a volunteer for 3 1/2 years. “They’ve built pretty much everything on it. We’ve just given them the instructions and they go ahead with it.”

At first Hysell thought the crawl space might be difficult to maneuver with the insulation.

“But, we were able to pretty much stand on one end and then sit, so it wasn’t a bad thing,” she said.

Erica Harmon, who will be moving into the house with her two children, also had to work on the house for 250 hours.

“Wonderful experience, wonderful,” Whitt said. “This house is built with so much love and so much good energy.”

Habitat for Humanity will be starting on a house sponsored by Marshall University and the women at Proctorville Animal Clinic are ready to start on it as soon as the current house is completed.

More than 400 women volunteers signed up through Lowe’s clinics and the construction site.

“The Women Build has been a major success for our affiliate,” said Teddy Kluemper III, director of development and communications, Huntington Area Habitat for Humanity. “I have been amazed and am very appreciative of all the hard work and dedication that these women from the Tri-State area have shown on this project. Rest assured Erica Harmon and her young children will now have a safe, decent, affordable place to live.”