Women volunteers help build Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity home


Photo Gallery | Women in government volunteer for Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity

PITTSFIELD — State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier found herself perched on a roof with a hammer in her hand Saturday.

She was one of several local women in government taking part in Habitat for Humanity's Women Build Week, which occurs for the sixth time during Mother's Day week.

Of course, Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity has stretched into a month.

Women Build is Habitat's program for women who want to learn construction to build homes and communities. The effort brings together women from all walks of life to address the housing crisis facing millions of women and children worldwide.

All through May, different groups of women will be volunteering on the project, including women from General Dynamics, Sen. Benjamin Downing's office, Guardian Life, and Miss Hall's School, and Greylock Federal Credit Union, among others.

"This is an opportunity to raise awareness about the pressing need for affordable housing," Farley-Bouvier said during a break from her roofing efforts. "I've been doing this every year in honor of my mother."

Her daughter Maggie Bouvier, 19, joined her on the job site.

"A lot of people think building and construction is just a guy thing," Maggie Bouvier said. "So getting women involved with Habitat for Humanity is a great idea."

"It's all about getting women into untraditional roles," added regular volunteer Cheryl Bassett. "It also gets the word out that community members can volunteer — it gets other people thinking about joining in."

Also volunteering at the house Saturday were City Councilors Melissa Mazzeo and Kathleen Amuso and Pittsfield City Clerk Jody Phillips.

They were working on a studs-out renovation of a two-family house that has stood on Hall Place since 1904. It was donated to Habitat for Humanity by the family of Mary Ann Carnes. The project, once completed, will serve as affordable housing for two families.

The project house is a 2-story townhouse format with four bedrooms in one unit and two on the other. Volunteers were installing roofing shingles and windows in an effort to seal the building envelope in preparation for moving inside to the concentrate on finishing out the interior.

Once complete, Habitat for Humanity will take applications from local working families who wish to live there, and grant two of them a mortgage at a reduced rate.

By completely renovating the home with nearly all volunteer labor, the cost of the renovation is greatly reduced.

During the buildng process, Habitat volunteers and crew get to know the neighbors pretty well, noted Carolyn Valli, executive director of Central Berkshire habitat for Humanity.

"It always becomes a community effort," Valli said. "And here, we've gotten to know the neighbors really well."


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