When my husband and I moved to San Diego a little over five years ago, I didn’t know anyone and I was working from home. I knew immediately I was going to need to get out of the house and volunteer. I was drawn to San Diego Habitat for Humanity because I knew that, once I purchased a home, I would want to work on it myself (no offense to contractors!). Volunteering with Habitat would be my way to get out of the house, learn to work on my future home and help those in need.
I filled out the paperwork and signed up for my first build day. In the days leading up to my first shift volunteering I started to feel nervous: as a female with hardly any construction experience, I questioned whether or not I would be able to help build. I was pretty sure that I would be given an “easy” job like painting and wouldn’t be allowed to touch a hammer or a saw!
The big day came and I showed up to a site that appeared to be finished. Sure enough, everyone volunteering that day painted, as there were only a couple interior touch-up jobs left to finish. Even though I was given what was in my mind an “easy” task, I really enjoyed being on the jobsite–I felt like I had done something great for a family in need. So I signed up for another day on a site that was just getting started. By the end of that day I had dug holes for conduit, cut wood, and even transferred a few tons of dirt using a skid-steer loader!
Fast forward five years and I enter jobsites without reservation about being a woman. I have learned all phases of building a single-family home and townhome, and have used that knowledge to work on my own home. I lead small groups and teach them skills like tiling floors, installing windows, or even running electrical wires. When I attend events on behalf of Habitat, I hear many women say, “Oh, I can’t even hammer a nail!” or “Construction? Me?” to which my reply is always, “Yes, you can.” At the end of a build day, it isn’t uncommon to hear women comment how confident they feel, and how inspired they are.
I encourage you all to get outside of your comfort zone and do something you think is intimidating. I think you’ll find yourself empowered by your success, whether it is building a house for a needy family or building a small business, or anything in-between!