Local women helping Fairview family find a new home


Local women helping Fairview family find a new home

By CAT MURPHY

Habitat for Humanity National Women Build Week is May 2-10, and across the U.S. women are turning out in droves to get their hands dirty. Since its induction in 2008, around 13,500 women have volunteered through the program.

Move over, Bob the Builder – it’s Bernadette’s turn.

Habitat for Humanity National Women Build Week is May 2-10, and across the U.S. women are turning out in droves to get their hands dirty. Since its induction in 2008, around 13,500 women have volunteered through the program.

At the Women Build home in Fairview, friendly worksite banter is frequently punctuated by the loud “POP POP POP” of nail guns while buzz saws drone in the background. Jennifer Aric’s future home looks like a hive swarmed by hot pink worker bees, armed to the antennas with caulk and power tools. Some are veteran volunteers. Others are greenhorns. Even Mrs. Tennessee is installing siding. These women (and a few men) have all come to lend a helping hand.

When a rental was foreclosed upon without warning, Aric’s family spiraled into chaos. Shortly after she made the decision to apply for a Habitat house. She was shocked when she heard back the same day she submitted her application.

“By five o’clock I got a call,” she said.

Birthdays, Christmases and a place for her nine children and three grandchildren to gather and make memories are the priceless tokens that come from her new home.

“It’s stability, because it’s yours. Now we have a home, and a yard.”

Every weekend Aric is putting in her “sweat equity” alongside volunteers. She and her kids love to watch the progress as things come together, and the younger ones love to play in the dirt and run through their new backyard. Aric wants to put down roots, literally.

“I wanted nine trees, one for all my kids, so we’re going to do that,” she said.

She also plans to start a vegetable garden.

With her two oldest out of the house, that leaves Julia (20), Adrianna (17), Isaiah (15), Addie (8), Aiden (5), Macey (4) and Josie (1) to occupy the five bedroom home. The house features a gradually sloped concrete walkway for Isaiah’s wheelchair rather than a wooden ramp. His osteogenesis imperfecta (also known as brittle bone disease) creates mobility issues, so the finished house will include other ADA modifications as well.

Mrs. Tennessee America 2015 Cheryl Brehm almost seems more at ease wielding a nail gun in Fairview than wearing a tiara – almost.

The self-proclaimed “adventure junkie”-turned-pageant-queen has been building with Habitat for the past four years, after a friend invited her along.

“It’s been addictive, so I keep coming back. Really, honestly, this is fun. There’s something really special about getting a bunch of women together who don’t even know each other,” said Brehm, who still maintains friendships with women she met on her first build.

Women, she speculates, pay particular attention to detail on these projects because “for a lot of women, their home is their identity … we’re going to put in that extra effort.”

While not predisposed to carpentry, she can now install siding like a pro.

“They [Habitat] teach you wherever you’re at,” Brehm said.

People volunteer varying levels of skill and quickly learn new skills through the project.

In the Habitat for Humanity Williamson-Maury service area, there are 4,280 families living or working who would qualify to purchase a Habitat home based on income. For information about volunteering, contact Volunteer Coordinator Katie Gilliam at (423) 341-5475.

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