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Women Build Week helps make home possible for single mom, six children

Sandy Perrien had never cut sheetrock in her life. Traci Plaisance, on the other hand, had a tool chest full of skills, lessons learned out of necessity post-Katrina. Meanwhile, Carrie Calvin worked at her father’s construction sites throughout her youth. Though equipped with varying degrees of construction expertise, the volunteers sweating it out May 5-13 in a hot construction site in south Slidell all had at least two things in common; they all had hearts of service and they all were women.

The future home of Amanda Williams, a single mother with six children ages 3 months to 15 years, was infinitely homier following the East St. Tammany Habitat for Humanity (ESTHFH) Slidell Women Build blitz. The Slidell effort was part of a national effort that has been coordinated for the past 11 years by Habitat for Humanity and Lowe’s.

The 50 Slidell women participating in the build, nicknamed “Rosies” after the iconic World War II Rosie the Riveter, sheetrocked Williams‘ entire house. When Williams visited the house May 15, she couldn’t believe her eyes. “They did such a great job,” said Williams, who is employed at Walgreens in Slidell after having served in the Army National Guard.

ESTHFH crew chief Preston Williams agreed. Williams, who has worked in the construction industry for 40 years and volunteered 20 years for Habitat, said he showed the Rosies what needed to be done, then just got out of the way. “If you look at a professional’s work, you won’t see any better,” Williams said.

Williamshome is a 1,300-square-foot structure with four bedrooms, two baths, a kitchen, dining and living areas. Though the land on which the house sits was donated, the construction cost is still a little over $100,000. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers, and the families also pay an affordable mortgage.

For that reason, the Rosies’ volunteer service didn’t end with simply floating sheetrock; they also raised thousands of dollars for ESTHFH as part of the National Women Build initiate. The money is a godsend to the Christian housing organization that has built nearly 140 homes since it was chartered in Slidell in 1992.

Leading the Rosies were Women of Distinction Adele Bruce Smith, Dania Fandal, Deanna Reine, Leslie Denham, and state Senator Sharon Hewitt. “Each year, these women tirelessly support and promote the Habitat mission to make a safe, decent, affordable home a reality,” said Kendra Maness, project spokeswoman.

Joining the Women of Distinction in their effort were: Sue Prude, Laura Borchert, Jessica Karr, Jess Steelman, Carlene Melton, Kelly Lutman, Lesley Beard, Jill Bergeron, Cheryl Backes, Kim Foltz, Pam Kaufmann, Denise Mancuso, Devina Ordoyne, Jeanne Dakin, Shannon Ordes, Lisa Baudot, Tanya Allen, Amanda Trosclair, Sharron Newton, Susan Williams, Amanda Reine Rizk, Madison Williams, Julie Glover Teal, Mary Swann, Monique Culpeper, Rayme Pullen, Nikki Calamari, Taylor Frisard, Tracy Weber Duplechain, Gwen Schmid, Deborah Armstrong, Sandy Perrien, Lee Williams, Christy Jordan, Traci Plaisance, Carrie Calvin, Lindsay Reine, Noel Estes, Marianne White, Ashleigh Gardner, Ellen Judlin, Robin Marquez, Sharon DeLong, Julie Wood, Tisha Batuk, Kathy Lowrey, Yolanda Paz, Barbara Doyle, Connie Born and Dawn Rivera.

Rene Arcemont, president and chief executive officer of ESTHFH, thanked all of the Rosies for their dedication to helping Habitat homeowners like Williamslove where they live by building or improving an affordable place they can call home.”

Carol Wolfram photographs and writes stories about the people and events of the Slidell community. To reach her, email carol.wolfram@yahoo.com.

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