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Habitat for Humanity invites women to help build in May

Building Director Tim Williams called out safety instructions to dozens of volunteers Monday morning from his perch on a muddy mound adjacent to a home under construction.

Another month or two and this home will be complete, Williams said, the third in a 21-lot subdivision development in Gainesville known as Copper Glen, which came into the hands of Habitat for Humanity of Hall County as a land donation.

Katie Deal, an award-winning dancer, singer and actress, listened closely to the commands.

But this isn’t her first time on a construction site.

Years ago, she said, she pitched in on a local Habitat home as part of a 4-H club.

Monday morning, the daughter of Gov. Nathan Deal was ready to swing hammers, toss some lumber or help out in any way possible to kick-start Habitat’s annual National Women Build Week.

Deal, modest as she can be, said she didn’t think hard about whether her appearance would motivate others. She just wanted to be part of a great service.

However, “if it brings attention, then I’m happy to lend my name and time,” she said.

Habitat will host and partner with local businesses on several volunteer initiatives in Hall County all week long.

And in just a few short weeks, Williams said, the foundation will be poured for another home in the 42-acre subdivision off Baker Road near Ga. 60/Candler Road.

This home will be an official “women build” job, with at least 50 percent of all labor and 50 percent of all funding coming directly from women.

Williams said it typically takes five months to finish a home.

The subdivision will include a walking trail and community garden when construction is complete.

Wendy Ridgeway, who works with Liberty Mutual, said she was happy to volunteer Monday for the start of the week’s events.

She’s been doing community service projects with her company for several years. Plus, her husband does home renovations.

So this project was kind of a natural fit, Ridgeway said.

Local Habitat director Ann Nixon said volunteers are critical to the organization’s success. She spotted a few volunteers Monday that she recognized from previous home builds.

Habitat homeowners must meet income guidelines and be able to make mortgage payments to qualify for a home. Financial education assistance and a down payment are required.

Nixon said Habitat homeowners show improvement in financial security, and the stability of a home can have a major impact on how well children perform in school.

These homes also help address the lack of affordable housing available in Gainesville and Hall County.

Habitat will be the beneficiary of a charity golf tournament this fall hosted by The Medical Center Foundation, which oversees all fundraising efforts in support of the Northeast Georgia Medical Center and Health System.

Nixon said she hopes enough money will be raised to build three more homes in Copper Glen.

Last year’s tournament raised more than $281,000 for a program that fights drug overdoses resulting from heroin and prescription opioid use.

With that kind of money, more volunteers will be needed.

Shirley Waits, who works at Lowe’s in Gainesville, said she had never volunteered at a Habitat worksite until Monday, but was already feeling the reward of doing so.

Waits said the opportunity allowed her to help the community and get to know her co-workers better.

“I am very inspired to help others,” she said. “Life is tough.”

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