Habitat for Humanity of the Mississippi Gulf Coast is celebrating International Women Build Week with the completion of the Women Build 2020 house, located at 2710 Dolphin Drive in Gautier. An open house is scheduled for participants and sponsors of Women Build 2020 on Thursday, March 11 and Friday, March 12. The home will be staged with furniture from the two Habitat ReStores on the MS Gulf Coast.
Women Build participants are accustomed to raising funds and hammers in support of affordable housing, however, volunteers for Women Build 2020 focused on raising awareness for the need for a safe, healthy home as the pandemic reached Mississippi the same week the build was scheduled to begin in March 2020. Participants were unable to volunteer due to concerns about the spread of the virus, but COVID did not stifle their enthusiasm and more than 131 participants raised over $112,000.
Construction of the Women Build 2020 home was postponed until August and commenced without volunteer assistance. Participants were invited to partake in the Habitat tradition of leaving messages and blessings for the future homebuyer inside the walls of the home and many joined in the wall signing tradition in September 2020.
Globally, Habitat for Humanity will be acknowledging International Women Build Week with 300 projects worldwide in support of affordable housing. Women have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, from job loss to evictions and foreclosures. The National Women’s Law Center reports 80 percent of US jobs lost during the COVID-19 pandemic were held by women. The need for a healthy safe home was magnified by the pandemic as 29 percent of renters and 36 percent of homeowners experienced income loss between March and September 2020.
Support for the home in Gautier is attributed in large part to the Co-Chairs of the Women Build 2020, Cheryl Cooper, with Navigator Credit Union, Nicole Martz, with IP Casino Resort Spa, and Karol Brandt, with Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort. Each of their companies sponsored the home along with Boomtown Casino, Lowe’s, The Dermatology Clinic, as well as 11 additional company sponsored teams and 13 community fundraising teams. “In light of the challenges we have all faced as a community, the collective effort to build an affordable house for our community is inspiring,” says Lindsay Avery, Director of Resource Development. “We are incredibly grateful to the hundreds of supporters who have had a hand in creating a safe home for a local family during a time of uncertainty.”
Those interested in viewing the completed home are scheduled for half hour blocks of time. COVID-19 protocol requests that masks are worn and no more than 10 participants will be in the home at the same time.