by Sharon Gray
Dr. Linda Hensman, front, director of the School of Pharmacy, and Susan Vaughan, Centre for International Business Studies, were two of about 10 women from the Memorial University community who joined the Habitat for Humanity women’s build in Mount Pearl Aug. 11-25. (Photo by Chris Hammond)
Outfitted with pink hard hats and tools of the trade, about 50 women spent two weeks in August at a construction site in Mount Pearl building a duplex. The project was organized by Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit organization that builds affordable housing for low-income families. This project was the first women’s build in Newfoundland.
About 20 per cent of the women on site work at Memorial University when they are not on a working vacation.
“It’s been a fabulous experience,” said Dr. Linda Hensman, director of the School of Pharmacy. “We all have a tremendous sense of accomplishment. The work was physically demanding but emotionally more exciting and less stressful than office work.”
Susan Vaughan, director, Centre for International Business Studies, said working on the women’s build project was rewarding on a variety of levels.
“We’ve been able to help two families realize their dream of owning their own home, made some wonderful new friends, and learned many practical skills along the way.”
Dr. Carolyn Harley, Psychology, also thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
“The best part was the other women I met along the way people who would just pitch in and do whatever needed a hand, with lots of joking and teasing. A build is naturally a bit of controlled chaos so you need to be flexible and also take the initiative in finding useful things to do.
“In two days time we sorted lumber, put adhesive on shingles, shifted sheets of gyproc, and did pick and shovel work, sometimes using our hammers as picks when the equipment hadn’t arrived in order to remove dirt and rubble from a hillside a create a flat space for the baby barns we were going to help put up.”
Gloria Montano, a graduate student in education with a background in education, said she has always wanted to work on a Habitat for Humanity build. “The unseen benefit the project had was building confidence in the women involved.”
The project attracted mostly women from the Avalon Peninsula, but there were also two sisters from Ontario who paid their own way to stay in a motel while they worked daily on the build. Another woman had worked at sites in Honduras, Cuba and Mexico. Two of the builders had a very special connection to the project Lori Osmond, who moved from Port aux Basques to be closer to medical facilities for one of her three sons, was on-site with her mother to help the project along. The other unit will be occupied by Danielle and Ray Campbell and their four sons.
The women’s build was also supported by local businesses and individuals who brought food to the site, and a number of retired trades people and trades people provided by companies who were on site every day to ensure that the volunteers were doing the work correctly.