I’ve been involved with several Habitat projects, but it was this one that touched me so deeply. It was all because of The Dragon Sister’s, Kevin, Habitat staff and sponsors. But most importantly, because of Miss Dorothy, for sharing this experience with us- Kim Thayer, Dragon Sisters
At the core of Women Build is a group of people who are willing to advocate for attainable housing, garner support from their sphere of influence, and take action to create change in their community.
This year, Women Build came to an unexpected halt. Typically, Women Build begins in March and participants raise funds for 6 weeks, followed by the volunteer and build phase in May. But when the coronavirus halted everything, it seemed like Women Build would be indefinitely delayed.
But then something incredible happened. Women Builder’s started to reach out.
They asked questions like: What can I do? How can I help someone during this time? Is there a family who needs a little extra support right now?
So we told them. Habitat Lake-Sumter shared the stories of families who needed help before Covid-19 and who would still need our help as we began to recover. Families who were struggling and vulnerable in their housing situations and who, without our help, would only feel the exacerbated effects of sheltering in unsafe housing conditions.
Leesburg Evening Rotary, BSmart Masonry, The Dragon Boat Sisters, and Zonta International adopted 2 projects, raising the funds needed and offering their volunteer time to make it happen. After all of the changes to Women Build and with safety precautions in place, we were finally able to see the Women Build projects come to fruition.
In July, two Women Build Preservation & Repair projects were completed thanks to some incredible individuals, businesses, and civic organizations who took action to strengthen and unite our community.
The project took on more than originally scoped – the Dragon Sisters did some major landscaping, as opposed to just “trim back the bushes so the house could be painted” approach. Also, the house would not stand up to power washing before painting, so the Sisters washed the entire house by hand so that it could be painted. Without the Dragon Sisters, there’s no way this house would have been done by Friday. As a club they also supplied plants, mulch, landscape fabric, and a garden flag and the pictures don’t do it justice, but the landscaping alone was a difference-maker- Kevin, Habitat Site Leader
Women Build may look decidedly different this year but the one thing that remained steadfast were the people willing to take on key leadership roles and direct action in helping families in Lake & Sumter County.
First of all we have a group of THE MOST generous, caring, funny and loving women I have EVER BEEN ASSOCIATED WITH. And most everyone else will say the same thing. Each day when we arrived we all knew what had to be done and we just went right to work, no direction needed. At the end of each day whether it was a sisters first day or not, each went home feeling good knowing we were helping make a difference in a sweet woman’s day.
Ms. Dorothy fed us and praised us and she even prayed that God would put us to use to help someone else in need. I asked her if she could ask him to use us in cooler days since the heat index was not under 106° the entire week. She laughed! But not one sister complained about the work that was needed. On our last day Ms. Dorothy came out to see her freshly painted, repaired home and freshly landscaped and cleaned flower beds and shrubs. She had a poem she “gave” us and it is this :
A bells not a bell till its rung
A songs not a song till it’s sung
But love wasn’t put in our hearts to stay
Loves not love till you give it away !
We ALL gave love away that week and we ALL are better for it. Thanks for the opportunity. Hugs! -Vicki McMillan, Dragon Sisters
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*The Women Build projects will begin in May and August
The impact of these uncertain times is felt by everyone. Cancelled events, businesses closing, lost wages from shortened hours at work, and increased cost of childcare as schools close.
And one of the primary safety recommendations? Stay home.
Can you imagine not having a stable place to call home, the potential that one missed paycheck holds the possibility of losing your home? Lack of stability in a home makes something like an unexpected crisis difficult to prepare for.
In this unprecedented time, we have the opportunity to make a huge difference in our community. We invite you to rally with Habitat Lake-Sumter and give a local family a hand-up for a stronger, more stable future. You can raise funds and raise awareness by registering for Women Build and sharing your fundraising page to friends and family, and finally, raise the walls and repair homes in Lake & Sumter Counties!