The last time I held a power tool was probably 17 years ago when I volunteered for 10 months with Americorps NCCC, the residential, traveling, domestic Peace Corps. Today brought me way back to those good ol' days of hanging dry wall, alongside enthusiastic do-gooders, helping folks in need. As part of the Women Build event with Dupage Habitat for Humanity, I helped a family that is eager to make a house their home,  just in time for the holidays. 

Chicago's own Jim Belushi volunteered on a past Women Build event—that's his John Hancock on the photo board.

Many might think that Habitat for Humanity gives homes away for free to low-income or struggling families—this is not the case. Dupage Habitat for Humanity builds and sells homes to families at no profit, with no interest on a 30-year mortgage, often using donated materials and supplies, volunteers and extra funds to offset costs. Habitat for Humanity turns dreams into reality by making homes affordable and accessible. And, a lot goes into the decision to work with a prospective family: homes are earned on the basis of need, ability to re-pay a mortgage and 250 hours of sweat equity labor per adult about to live in the home. 

Jack teaches volunteers how to use tools and equipment, getting the crew ready to build. 

Mario Tricoci was on site, giving chair massages, eye treatments and beauty advice. All volunteers also walked away with gift bags and coupons (thank you for the shampoo & conditioner!). I was super impressed by their dedication to their craft—a couple of them showed up to the construction site in high heels!  

Each participating builder raised $250 or more to help fund the cost of building materials and Women Build t-shirts—this is on top of working a full day in the home; these volunteers and team leaders went far and beyond to make today successful and productive.

Today's community build event timeline looked like this:

8 a.m.—9 a.m.: Pampering stations, networking, coffee and donuts—provided by the Breakfast Sponsor, Dunkin’ Donuts 

9 a.m.—12 p.m.: Yoga warm-up, led by Corie Rectenwald, followed by building

12—1 p.m. : Lunch, provided by the Lunch Sponsor, Chick-fil-A and short program; Janice M. Mowen, associate representative of Thrivent Financial, provided raffle gifts and a motivating "thank you" speech, followed by building

3 pm: Cleanup

Women Build was an opportunity for women to not only wield a power tool and learn something new but also it was a chance for women to uplift a community, be advocates for affordable housing and share in the delight of working alongside the actual couple that would benefit from a warm home for their family. 

Best part: volunteers of every skill level are welcome—Dupage Habitat for Humanity will train and educate all participants. Interested? Sign up! 

Photo Credit: Dupage Habitat for Humanity

Photo Credit: Dupage Habitat for Humanity