ROXANA — Together for more than 10 years, the Illinois Baptist Women strapped on the tool belts, enlisted strong arms and went to work building a home for Illinois Habitat for Humanity.
“We have a few men who volunteer to help us with lifting the heavier items, but otherwise we do all the work ourselves,” volunteer Nancy Whitlow said. “We work under the guidance of a contractor, but we do all the exterior work ourselves. We have 20 women from age 40 to 82 on our team. We have some very knowledgeable women. We put up the walls, trusses, the roof, siding, windows and doors. It was a slab when we arrived on Monday and by Friday, we had a house.”
Whitlow said the walls were put together by members of a penitentiary in East St. Louis and were shipped to the site for the women to put together.
“When we leave, the outside is completely done,” Whitlow said. “Another contractor will do the electrical and plumbing work for the home. All the women in our group are Christian women and we have more fun on these projects — it really is that much fun. Women on our team come from all over the state of Illinois and we absolutely love working together.”
Each team member donates $100 of her own money to the project to offset the cost of materials. The new homeowner has to follow strict requirements to qualify and has to pay monthly installments toward the interest-free mortgage and insurance for the home.
“We were able to meet the family who will live in this home,” Whitlow said. “Three generations will grace these walls. The mother works locally and her 23-year-old daughter is paralyzed from the neck down following an accident. The new homeowner’s 5-year-old granddaughter will also live in the house. We built the house fully wheelchair-accessible to help with the family’s needs.”
The house is still in the process of construction and is not quite ready for inhabitants. Interior structures, painting and final touches will be done over the next couple of weeks. The new family will be able to spend its first holiday season under the roof that local hands built.
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