Hammering Together a Home

Molokai women volunteer at Habitat for Humanity construction site.       

By Melissa Kelsey

For many women on Molokai, helping each other is a way of life. And for some, building what they need is second nature. An enthusiastic group of women gathered last Saturday morning, ready to do both. After responding to the non-profit’s call for National Women Build Week volunteers, women of all ages and construction experience levels spent the day learning building techniques and working at a Ho`olehua homestead Molokai Habitat for Humanity construction site.

“I wanted to give something back to the community,” said Chevy Levasa, Molokai resident and volunteer.

The future home of the Dudoit-Temahaga `ohana is a four bedroom, two bathroom single-family dwelling. The home had already been under construction for the last few weeks, and is expected to take approximately four more months to complete.

National Women Build Week is an initiative organized by Habitat for Humanity and sponsored by Lowe’s, which provided $5000 grants for the project to 175 Habitat for Humanity branches, including the Molokai chapter, according to a Molokai Habitat for Humanity press release. For the initiative, Habitat for Humanity plans projects in order to train and involve more women in construction so Habitat for Humanity can increase its national volunteer force. The Molokai chapter intends to use most of the grant for tools, according to Emillia Noordhoek, a local spokesperson for the project. The second annual National Women Build Week nation-wide, it was Molokai’s first year to participate in the event, thanks to the grant.                   

For the participating women on Molokai, the all-day event began with an orientation to operating several types of power tools, as well as a review of general safe construction practices. Then volunteers split into groups. One group of women measured and sawed rafters for the house’s roof using electric saws. When the rafters were completed, they were lifted to other women on the roof, who nailed them in place with electric guns. Another group of volunteers painted window trimming, which was later cut and nailed to the outside of the windows.   

“You start out and there is this apprehension and fear of power tools,” explained Levasa.  “After trying the power tools a few times, the fear is removed,” she said, adding that she donated time to the event on behalf of her employer, the United States Department of Agriculture.

Community member Keri Zacher learned about the event as a result of a presentation at Coffees of Hawaii last week.

“I thought, ‘it is women, I can do that!’” she said, adding that everyone at the volunteer day was patient with people who did not have previous construction experience.   

For lunch, participants enjoyed an ono meal of food donated by Pu`u Hoku, Kumu Farms and community supporters.

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