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Women take the lead in Habitat for Humanity building projects

Sandra Hopkins has volunteered for Habitat for Humanity in the past, but this year she had a new job: painting two-by-fours that would be used for framing the house bright pink.

“What doesn’t look good in pink?” she said with a smile.

The two-story home being erected at 518 North Adams Street in Havre de Grace by Habitat for Humanity Susquehanna has a pink frame for a reason – it is being completed with a majority of the labor coming from women. The project arose from a national partnership “Women Build” between Habitat for Humanity International and Lowe’s.

The projects are proving popular in Maryland. Habitat of Humanity of Frederick County is in the final planning stages for the first Women Build project in that area. It will be located on Park Avenue in Brunswick.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for women to come out to a build site, perhaps for the first time, and learn new construction skills, while helping to build a home for a family who otherwise couldn’t afford one,” said Bethany Miller, the director of community development at Habitat in Frederick County. “I think it’s truly a crossroads of empowerment, our ladies our empowered by learning new skills and realizing their full abilities while providing the empowerment that comes with homeownership to a family in need.”

Women Build projects are also intended to benefit women who need affordable housing. A single mother will own the house at 518 North Adams, and she will make interest-free mortgage payments, complete financial literacy and home ownership classes, and contribute “sweat equity” by helping on the build.

Hopkins, the 2016 incoming president for the Harford County chapter of the Women’s Council of REALTORS, volunteered with her organization and also serves as the mentor for the woman who will own the home.

“I think for her it’s given her something to look forward to,” Hopkins said. “She’s really struggled and to be able to give her family a home is really important to her.”

Habitat tore down the dilapidated house that had been donated to them by Wells Fargo and it is erecting a two-story new home in its place. Hopkins said that it will contribute to the revitalization of Havre de Grace, which was ranked as the 11th best small town in the country by

“It was fun that it’s deemed a Women’s Build and really showing that women are an active part of the community,” Hopkins said.

The project’s funding includes a large gift from the Women’s Giving Circle of Harford County and from the Harford County Government.

Habitat for Humanity Susquehanna Executive Director Karen Blandford said they have done several Women Build projects over the years and some women find it less intimidating.

“What I hear most often is but I don’t know how to do anything, and really the majority of our volunteers it’s how they come to us, and it’s our job to teach you these things,” Blandford said.

That was the case for Crystal Adams, who volunteered with Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. Adams spent a recent October day with other members installing insulation at the house and filling cracks with caulk.

“Everyone was coming together to build a home, and it actually gave us the confidence that not only could we build it, we could help someone in the community,” Adams said.

When her mother’s home flooded recently, Adams and her sister volunteered to replace that insulation too, saying that they had just done it on the Habitat project.

Since the sorority was founded by women, its members appreciated participating in this project. And as co-chair of the environmental ownership committee, she said they were glad the insulation helped them meet their goals for acting green and family strengthening.

“It’s not only giving them a house, it’s giving them a community,” Adams said.

To get involved …

To contact Habitat for Humanity Susquehanna, visit or call 410-638-4434.

To get involved on the Brunswick site, e-mail Habitat for Humanity of Frederick County at [email protected].

This article is featured in The Daily Record’s Path To Excellence: A Woman’s Guide To Business. The mission of the Path to Excellence magazine is to give our readers the opportunity to meet successful women of all ages, backgrounds and beliefs and learn how they define success. Read more from Path to Excellence.