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2013 top stories: #9 - Women Build a success

Goodhue County Habitat for Humanity Women Build volunteers gather in late April for the groundbreaking ceremony at the property on Jefferson Street.

Kelsie Kuyath and her two young daughters recently moved into their new home on Jefferson Street, but the process getting there was a little different than most new homeowners.

Kuyath and hundreds of volunteers built the home as part of Goodhue County Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build project.

Work on Women Build started more than a year ago, and crews broke ground on April 29. The home was dedicated in mid-November.

Participants called the program empowering and positive, saying they learned new skills and forged friendships.

More than 400 volunteers built the house and raised more than $65,000 between business donations, fundraising events and other efforts.

Habitat for Humanity heard from many participants that they learned new skills, from installing flooring and roofing to using power tools, said Dee Bender, one of the project coordinators and part of the Habitat board.

Participants also appreciated the team-building and relationships from working with the other volunteers, Bender said, and have pride in the work they did.

“Now they can drive by and point it out to their kids and say ‘I helped build that,’” she said.

Kuyath said she got a lot out of Women Build as well.

“The experience was great,” she said. “I loved getting to build my own home and learn how to take care of it.”

This was the 31st home Goodhue County Habitat for Humanity has built in the area since it started, Bender said.

“Thirty-one homes in 20 years is an accomplishment,” she said, adding three homes were built in 2013, two of which were in Red Wing.

Bender said although the county’s Habitat for Humanity has been around for two decades, some people learned about it for the first time through this project.

“Part of the goal of having a Women Build of this magnitude was to raise visibility,” she said, and that definitely happened.

Hundreds of women — and some men — turned out to be part of the Women Build project. In fact, there were sometimes more people than needed for some of the work, “but how do you say no to a willing volunteer?” Bender said. “It just took on a life of its own.”

“I’m really grateful for the 450-plus volunteers and for Habitat making this happen,” Kuyath said. “It was life-changing.”

Goodhue County Habitat for Humanity works countywide, so the next home likely will be outside Red Wing, Bender said. Still, she said Women Build might inspire all-women teams for future builds or another similar project.

“I think there’s another Women Build in our future,” Bender said.

Danielle Killey

Danielle Killey covers local government for the South Washington County Bulletin. She has worked as a reporter for other Forum Communications newspapers since 2011. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a journalism degree.

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