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First 2020 Cedar Valley Habitat for Humanity home built by women

Habitat for Humanity volunteers

HIAWATHA, Iowa (KWWL) -- This week more than 6,000 women across the globe volunteered to build homes for Habitat for Humanity, including right here in Eastern Iowa.

A group of women volunteers from Schneider Electric, Lowe's, and the community teamed up with Cedar Valley Habitat for Humanity to build the first home of 2020.

It's part of the 'International Women Build Week' that's happening in 235 communities in the United States, India, and Canada, according to Habitat for Humanity.

The home was built in panels at the Habitat office in Hiawatha. Once it's complete it will go to a family in Fairfax.

"I love it when the women come out," said Habitat for Humanity Construction Manager, Leslie Neugebauer.

It's the first project of the new year for the Cedar Valley branch of Habitat for Humanity and for some of the women volunteers it was also the first time they've taken on the challenge of building a home from scratch.

"I was nervous I didn't know what to expect," said Allison Holroyd, a volunteer with Schneider Electric.

Holroyd is one of the dozen women who came out to volunteer from Schneider. At first, she said it was a bit intimidating.

"I have no building experience whatsoever so it was a little intimidating but I figured if a bunch of other women were doing it, why not try it," said Holroyd.

However, after the guidance of Habitat staff, like Neugebauer, the women were beginning to learn the ropes and how to handle various power tools.

"Very willing and eager to learn so it's just a really teachable moment for any type of volunteer, especially women, to come out who might be a little nervous at first," said Neugebauer.

The volunteers also get to work side by side with some of the people who will be living in a Habitat home, called partner families.

Juma Nakashenyi is on a waiting list for a habitat home. He was there today putting in his 'sweat equity' hours.

"I don't know if it's going to be this year or next but year I'm still doing my voluntary hours," said Nakashenyi.

It's also his first time building a house and getting to do it alongside women.

"I'm happy to work with them. It's nice because I never seen the women build the house but today is my first time," said Nakashenyi.

It's not just about learning skills and building confidence but to know that one day the walls they're building will make a home for another Iowa family.

"Thinking of the family as they're entering this house that, you know, we helped build and helped put a roof over their head. Yeah, it's been a nice experience," said Holroyd.

This will be the fourth Habitat for Humanity House put up in the town of Fairfax.

Habitat for Humanity has teamed up with Lowe's, who was also a sponsor of today's build, to offer a free power tools class on Tuesday, March 10th.

The class will be held at the Cedar Rapids Lowe's location on Blair Ferry Road from 6-7:00 pm.

Since 2003 Lowe's has donated more than $71 million dollars to the non-profit.

To learn how to get involved with the Cedar Valley Habitat for Humanity, click here.
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Ashley Neighbor

Reporter, Cedar Rapids

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