Monday, April 18, 2016

My Women Build Story

Rosie the Riveter!What image comes to mind when I think of empowering myself?  Rosie the Riveter!

Rosie the Riveter is an iconic WWII image used to recruit women into the work force.  Since the end of the war, this image has become a symbol of feminine capability.  Today, this image profoundly resonates within me as a symbol of my capabilities.

When I began building my home, I also began building myself!  With every nail I drove and every wall I raised, I built an inner strength housed within the resilience my experience with Habitat was constructing. When selected to represent the 20th anniversary Habitat Cabarrus Women Build project, I was flooded with emotion. What an honor I thought to myself, attaching the image of a women’s strength to what I saw as my biggest feat.  Obtaining home-ownership and securing a stable life for myself and family would soon be realized through my concerted efforts and those of women leaders throughout my community.

But my Women Build story didn’t begin with the start of Habitat’s 20th anniversary women build project and it has yet to come to an end!

In high school, I joined a service club for girls called the Juniorettes. It was through this group that I was first introduced to Habitat for Humanity and the Women Build idea. My Juniorette team volunteered to paint the interior of a home that was a Women Build home.

Working on a build as Volunteer Coordinator
with Development Director Katie Page.
Then fast forward to 2009, I was about to graduate from Wingate University and knew I wanted a career that allowed me to serve others. So the school’s career counselor secured me a one-semester internship with the local Habitat for Humanity affiliate.  During my internship I saw firsthand Habitat’s “a hand up, not a hand out” philosophy.  Although brief, during my time with that affiliate I began to learn how Habitat worked and how they changed lives by building people up!

After graduation, I worked long, unpredictable hours for a very low wage trying tirelessly to simply provide for my young daughter.  Despite my best efforts I couldn’t find another job and continued earning drastically less than my degree deceptively lead me to believe I would earn.  I was living in a place that was not safe but couldn’t afford to live anywhere else.   In 2010, a young man I went to high school with was shot because of a bad drug deal outside my apartment as I was unloading my daughter after a long night at work. The very next day I was reintroduced to Habitat, but this time as an applicant.

Since the completion of my home, my life has continued to intertwine with Habitat and Women Build.  In 2013, I was brought on board to serve as the construction assistant to our famous "Bob the builder." Then in 2014, I was offered a position at the affiliate as the volunteer coordinator. The crazy part here is that my assigned supervisor turned out to be one of those strong women leaders who lent a hand on the building of my Women Build home (I am forever grateful Katie Page!). Once again I was overcome with excitement at the opportunity to build myself with the assistance of the strong women I looked up to and to serve alongside these women who had encouraged me during my partnership with Habitat (Shirley Kennerly this includes you too!).

My Women Build story doesn’t end there though... Just recently, February 1st of 2016 to be exact, my brother passed away from a heroin overdose. I first learned of his addiction about two years ago, around the time I joined Healthy Cabarrus’s Substance Use Coalition. The coalition’s mission is to mobilize community partners to build a healthier community by reducing substance abuse and its effects, particularly among youth. It was through the efforts of this coalition that I learned about Naloxone and its ability to reverse an opioid-induced overdose. Unfortunately, my brother was alone when he overdosed and wasn’t found until long after he had last used. Despite this fact, the administration of Naloxone is what kept him alive long enough to make it to the hospital and for our family to say goodbye. In honor of my brother, my friends and colleagues at the Cabarrus Health Alliance decided to put together a women build team to support our 2016 campaign. And guess what day they requested to come out and build? My birthday! Truly I believe this is God at work.

Romans 8:28 says “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

At our St. Patrick's Day Party fundraiser with Shirley Kennerly,
Family Services Coordinator.
I believe I have been called to my purpose, to not only serve the Lord but to serve another family. I get to give back the love and support that was so graciously poured upon me. As each Women Build team continues to grow and the funds to support this build continue to come in I am called to give praise; Praise to God for his unwavering love, Habitat Cabarrus for its continued efforts within my life and my community, and to Julie Clinkscale, the beautifully strong grandmother and caregiver of 5 remarkable young ladies who is working diligently to build her home with the title of this year’s Women Build. I am so excited to see this year’s project kick-off.  Who knows…maybe Rosie the Riveter will come out to support us once again! 

No comments:

Post a Comment