Women flex their muscles at Habitat for Humanity build event

Brittany Holley climbed all over the building site Thursday, stapling moisture barrier onto window and door casings, drilling holes into the concrete foundation to attach temporary wall supports, toting building materials and fetching supplies.

Through it all, a smile lit up her face, knowing that she was helping build the Habitat for Humanity house that she and her three children will move into in a few months.

She also smiled at the sight of 30 or so volunteers converging on the 2200 block of 10th Street West to help during National Women Build Week.

“Today I started off drilling here, just to make sure this wall is stable. I have been putting down some foam blocks. I was drilling rebar. This is an awesome stress reliever right here, hammering staples in. This is just to make sure the water from the concrete doesn’t mess up the wood or anything,” Holley said. “I ran over there to the other Habitat house where I was painting a little bit. Anywhere I can help, anywhere I can get in, I am here and ready to work.”

Thursday’s volunteer workforce included a number of heavy hitters, including Carol Probstfeld, president of State College of Florida; County Commissioner Betsy Benac; Bradenton Police Chief Melanie Bevan; schools Superintendent Diana Greene; and Angel Colonneso, Manatee County clerk of the circuit court.

“This is a whole new experience, I am excited by it,” Probstfeld said.

One of her first jobs was helping install a window casing. She mused that maybe it wouldn’t be a bad thing for everyone to help build their own house.

Kathy Shjarback served as crew leader for the women build.

“This is my third women build. I have helped build more than 50 houses,” Shjarback said. “I love to see families get a chance to do well. Most of the homeowners learn how to maintain their home, and to take pride in it.”

Mike Kunst, an assistant store manager for Lowe’s, said he was learning new things, too, at Thursday’s build.

“I have never seen the plastic foam forms used before. It’s pretty interesting seeing how they go up,” Kunst said.

The molds, also called insulated concrete forms, were stacked and leveled by volunteers. Later, concrete will be poured into them. The walls will eventually be covered by drywall on the interior and siding on the exterior, helping produce a strong structure that helps keep energy bills low.

Amy Van Dell, resource development manager for Manatee County Habitat for Humanity, said the insulated concrete form makes for a low-maintenance, energy-efficient home.

Jim Crouse, a Lakewood Ranch resident who has been a Habitat volunteer for 10 years, called the women build event a lot of fun. He appreciated seeing all the volunteers swarming over the construction site.

Volunteers Thursday were working on an attached villa, which will house two families, starting in September when construction is completed, Van Dell said.

Lowe’s donated $2 million to Habitat’s 2017 National Women Build Week. For more information about Manatee County Habitat for Humanity, visit manateehabitat.org.

James A. Jones Jr.: 941-745-7053, @jajones1