Sandra Parker leaned over with an electric drill in her hand Saturday morning and bored a small hole through a two-by-four board and into the concrete slab below, all under the direction of Habitat for Humanity instructors.
The 52-year-old listened as the instructors offered tips on how to drill into concrete as she moved over a foot to her left to create a second hole in the slab on Madison Avenue, near Plank Road. Once constructed, the home will eventually become her own. It will be the first home she has owned.
“It’s hard to put into words how important it’ll be,” said Parker, whose two previous attempts to buy a home fell through.
To help her achieve that dream, she and about two dozen other women and staff from Habitat for Humanity of Greater Baton Rouge gathered at the slab on Saturday for the ninth annual Women Build initiative.
Lynn Clark, executive director of the local Habitat chapter, said the initiative was designed to “help women help other women rise above poverty.”
Clark, in her 10th year as executive director, has worked on the Women Build each year and said the volunteers are really uplifting and support each other.
This year, 23 women, including 14 newcomers and Parker’s sister-in-law Abilean Guillory, showed up Saturday for the second week of the three-month build.
Four of the volunteers were women wearing green shirts who are working toward getting their own homes. Part of the program is that potential homeowners, or partners as Habitat calls them, have to work 255 hours on other homes before they can close on their own home.
Other volunteers sported pink shirts with the Women Build slogan, “As girls we played houses, as women we build them,” while they swung hammers, cut boards and raised the interior and exterior walls. Once complete, Parker’s 1,150-square-foot home will have three bedrooms and 11/2 baths. Next door on Madison, a group of regular Habitat volunteers, mostly men, finished another home.
The women volunteers meet each Wednesday and Saturday. Construction on Parker’s home is expected to end in late December. Parker said she hopes to move in around February.
The group gathered on the site Sept. 27 for the pre-build during which they put together the door and window frames as well as corner frames. On Saturday, the group hit its goal of erecting all the interior and exterior wall frames, Clark said. The goal Wednesday is to cover the wall frames with plywood sheets that will serve as the base for the siding.
In the middle of it all was Parker who said her 11-year-old daughter has been excited since she learned about their new home.
“That’s all she talks about,” Parker said.
The pair live in a rental home near Winbourne Avenue right now and Parker is eager to begin putting her money toward a permanent home.
Habitat officials will sell Parker the home for $76,000, even though it will probably appraise for about $100,000, and she will pay a monthly note of about $400.
Clark said the money from Parker’s house note will go toward supplies for another house, like one of the four Clark said Habitat plans to build on empty lots along Madison Avenue, next to Parker’s home.
“Our homeowners are our largest donors because, by paying their note, they are helping someone else achieve home ownership,” Clark said.
Parker’s home is one of six in construction and once completed, will add to the more than 315 homes Habitat for Humanity in Baton Rouge has built in 25 years.
Another veteran of the Women Build homes is retired educator Tricia Day, 64, of Baton Rouge.
She joined the initiative eight years ago after seeing a flier for it at Red Shoes, a nonprofit wellness center on Government Street. She enjoyed it so much that she comes back each year for Women Build.
“After that first year, I learned so much, I thought why not come back,” Day said. “It’s the idea of giving back to the community.”