HAMMERS & HEELS: Building A Family’s Home

Owning a home is the American dream. And, it will soon be a reality for a family of four. The Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity celebrates a big milestone this year. The group built its 200th home for a family to buy. And, crews are working on many more builds this summer, including one with a unique group of volunteers.

If you take a close look at the people climbing the ladders, hammering the nails and sawing the wood, you’ll count fifteen women. Habitat for Humanity Women’s Build Co-Chair Dotty Thurston says, “Big muscles help, but they’re not necessary.”

The women’s build is also known as Hammers and Heels. Co-Chair Mary Lou Neugent says, “It’s really empowering for women. It’s fun to see women on the site learning new skills and the power tools are especially fun.”

More than 180 volunteers, mostly ladies, will help with this two month project. No experience needed. Thurston says, “Experience, not at all. Every job we’ve done is manageable for any skill level.”

Crews started working on the house in the beginning of May. It’s going to be a three bedroom home with 1200 square feet of living space. The home should be finished by the end of June.

Tika Vhandari says, “We are so excited to have a home.”

Tika, Hem and their two kids move in this summer. They are refugees from Bhutan. Tika says, “We are living in apartment, one bedroom apartment.”

The parents want more room for their kids to roam and to live the American dream of owning a home. Hem says, “I never thought I would have a home like this in Des Moines, Iowa, America.”

The family partnered with Habitat for Humanity to complete a home ownership class. They must also provide 400 hours of sweat equity before finally buying the home through a 20 year interest free loan.

Neugent says, “At the very end, it’s really wonderful to hand the keys over to the family.”

You can still sign up to volunteer for Hammers and Heels. Just go to the Habitat for Humanity website. Build days are Tuesdays through Saturdays from 8:15 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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