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Women Volunteers To Build Eighth Home In Alachua County

Alachua Women Build recently finished its seventh home for Habitat for Humanity, but the group is not stopping there. Women Build will break ground on an eighth home Oct. 15, and plans for a 9th are in the works.

The seventh house, named the Memorial House, is home to a single mother and her four children, who moved in over the summer.

House eight will provide a home for another single mother of four. The first volunteer build day is Oct. 18.

The local chapter of Women Build, a national organization of women volunteers who fund and construct homes for low-income families, has been active in Alachua County for about 20 years.

Alachua Women Build Chairwoman Rachel Walters said the group has a slightly different philosophy on build sites than some of the other volunteer groups affiliated with Habitat for Humanity.

“We’re not only there to build houses for families living in poor quality housing,” said Walters, 31. “We’re also there to empower women.”

Walters said the regular volunteers mentor the younger persons who come out to help. Teamwork and learning practical do-it-yourself skills are a big focus, she said.

“Because it’s only women on site, with any kind of heavy lifting we all have to pull together,” Walters said. “There’s no one there to rely on, so we just have to work better as a team.”

Habitat for Humanity volunteer coordinator Jill Carter works with Women Build members by providing them with female student groups interested in volunteering. She believes the organization provides the best opportunity for instruction.

Carter, who joins in as a volunteer, said she likes the camaraderie and support of working with all women. She notices there is more of a team atmosphere on Women Build sites compared to coed sites.

“When you go there, you feel like you’re part of the group,” Carter said. “Everyone is on a level playing field.”

Volunteer Sarah Harrison recently got involved with Women Build when she brought lunch to the Memorial House build site.

“I liked the idea of just women building a house,” she said. “I thought that was cool.”

Harrison said while working on the Memorial House she met a 16-year-old high school student who was completing community service hours. Even after fulfilling her hours, she continued to come every Saturday. Harrison said the girl liked the fact that she could use the skills she learned later on in life.

Harrison, 59, said because she’s older, she participates less in building and focuses more on helping raise the required $75,000 in funds to build a home.

Walters said it took a significant amount of time to fundraise the full amount in the past, and up until house six, the money was raised entirely by Women Build.

“It got to a stage of building for six months and fundraising for two years,” Walters said. “Now we’re collaborating with Habitat more.”

Community Bank and Trust of Florida donated $50,000 and Habitat for Humanity donated $25,000 for house eight, Walters said. With costs for house eight already fully covered, Women Build can save its current funds for house nine.

Kai is a reporter who can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing