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Women volunteers swing hammers during city's 110th Habitat for Humanity build

Women volunteers swing hammers during city's 110th Habitat for Humanity build

March 24th, 2019 by Jeff Haldiman in Local News

Jassmin Robinson, left, and Chloe Hill gather nails needed to install vinyl siding Saturday as they volunteer with River City Habitat for Humanity. Robinson is the owner of the house being built.

Photo by Jenna Kieser /News Tribune.

After building more than 100 homes, it would make sense if River City Habitat for Humanity started to slow down its construction pace, but that's not the case.

On Saturday, women volunteers from across Jefferson City came to the construction site of the 110th home, 304 E. Fillmore St., as part of the first "Women's Build." River City Executive Director Susan Cook-Williams told the News Tribune the event was designed to challenge women to devote at least one day to creating decent, affordable housing in the community.

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Fifteen women helped with the installation of siding, and while some had experience with rehabbing homes, others were newbies. Jassmin Robinson, who will be moving into the Fillmore Street home this summer with her 5-year-old son, Kordi, has been working alongside volunteers to construct her home. She said she never had done construction work so this was "an eye-opening experience."

"There's a lot of stuff I look at differently now," Robinson said. "When you become a homeowner, it's a different feeling. It gets to a point where I can't explain it because I can't believe it's actually happening."

Construction manager Shane Spalding said when they have volunteers come out to help, "It's like a box of chocolates — you don't know what you're going to get."

"People are capable of doing a lot more than what they can imagine," Spalding added. "Without a bunch of experience, they feel like they won't be very effective or valuable at the work site, and that's not the case at all.

"There's people here who hardly know how to hammer, and we're putting siding on. We have led people to control the quality and installation and make sure things go right."

In addition to this being the first Women's Build, Cook-Williams said this is River City's first "Beloved Community Home."

"It's a national Habitat initiative to honor the memory of Martin Luther King Jr. by having the community come together to work on something positive together," Cook-Williams said.

"It feels good to see people come together like this," Robinson added. "They are so welcoming and wanting to help."

During the build on the home at Fillmore, students and staff from Lincoln University have provided labor and Marines from Ft. Leonard Wood have come up to help as well.

Habitat homeowners invest 350+ hours of "sweat equity", working alongside our staff and volunteers to help build their own homes. When construction is complete, they make affordable mortgage payments that are recycled back into the Habitat program to build more homes for more families.

Habitat for Humanity selects families based on their degree of need of affordable housing, ability to pay a home mortgage and willingness to partner with the nonprofit, according to the news release. Applicants must also be United States citizens or permanent legal residents.

"Habitat's home ownership program empowers families to build a better life for themselves through the stability and security of owning their own home," Cook-Williams said. "Habitat homes are not given away, but rather they are sold to qualified families."

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While work on the Fillmore Street home is progressing, students from Nichols Career Center are working to finish another home in the 1100 block of East Dunklin Street. It's the ninth year students have done a home build, and Chloe Hill, who will be moving into that home, was helping Saturday at the Fillmore Street site.

"We have four homes that we're working on now," Cook-Williams said. "We've got them scheduled to be done in May, June, July and August. We also just selected four new families, and we'll be starting those homes later this year. Most of the time, we get lots so we're building them from scratch, but we are doing some rehabs if a home is given to us."

The work typically takes about nine months.

More information about River City Habitat is available at rivercityhabitat.org or call 573-635-8439.