Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build Project
Eleven female students and staff members from IIHR and the Iowa Flood Center took part in Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build project on August 23, 2014, in Iowa City. Sara Steussy, who spent a year working with Habitat for Humanity as part of AmeriCorps, organized the service project and helped coach her less experienced colleagues.
Steussy says the Women Build initiative empowers and challenges women to take on tasks that many may never have thought of trying before: lifting trusses, hammering nails, and even running the circular saw. No experience is required to volunteer on a Habitat construction site; skilled builders are on hand to teach volunteers everything they need to know.
Homes for the Iowa City Community
Now finished, the house is home to a family from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The extended family includes 10 children and two adults, who previously shared a two-bedroom apartment. They escaped war in their home country and spent eight years in a Tanzanian refugee camp before finally making their way to the United States. As a Habitat partner family, they worked many hours on the build site and will pay back a noprofit, no-interest mortgage.
When asked what keeps her coming back, Steussy says, “I think it’s the community — both the volunteers and the homeowners, and the larger community of Iowa City.” Knowing that her work would help provide much-needed space for a family in need made the work particularly rewarding for Carmen Langel. She says she enjoyed the camaraderie of working as a team with her co-workers outside the office, and accomplishing something important for another family.
Sandy Gerard agrees. “It’s an amazing feeling to be able to help other people and to join together as a team of co-workers.”