Why I Build – Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build 2019

This May, Amanda Medlen, Brittany Parksey, Lee Boyland, and I collaborated with Turner Construction to create a team for Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build 2019.

Women Build is a program where women from all walks of life come together to raise funds and physically build a home – start to finish – for a local family in need. This year, we were building for the Epps-Brown family, consisting of mother Daisy, and her three children, Daizia, Khalis, and Kevin. Upon hearing their story, we felt immediately drawn in by Daisy’s compassion and positivity. We were excited to get to work building a home for such a deserving family (You can read their story: here).

When I look back at the fundraising stage of the process, I don’t think I truly grasped the magnitude of this undertaking. Between all the Indy Women Build teams, we were tasked with raising $130,000. We began reaching out to family, friends, industry reps…you name it, spreading Daisy’s story and asking for donations. The support we received was astonishing. We actually ended up exceeding our goal, with a final fundraising total of $167,581!

On May 23, 2019, our team’s build day came, and we found ourselves in a sticky situation…literally. After a two-hour storm delay, we showed up at the muddy build site. As awful as it looked, not a single person complained! Everyone was upbeat, positive, and eager to get their hands dirty. It was amazing to see how far the house had already progressed from the Women Build teams before us, and how seamlessly we were able to pick up where they left off.

We broke off into teams, some cutting and hanging siding, and others caulking all the nooks and crannies of the exterior. It had been awhile since I operated a circular saw or nail gun, but apparently, it is just like riding a bike! I was tasked with cutting and installing trim around the front porch. This ended up being a very special and rewarding job for me.

Growing up, my family’s front porch was the heart of our home. I remember watching countless thunderstorms with my dad, building elaborate haunted houses for Halloween, or just hanging out with the neighbor kids during the summer. Our porch was a space where everyone was welcome. I have so many years’ worth of positive memories on that porch, and I felt truly humbled to be able to provide Daisy’s children the chance to create those same memories.

Sunburnt and sweaty, we wrapped up the day with a sense of pride and accomplishment. We stayed awhile chatting and looking over the progress we had made. Some people even went inside the house and wrote messages to Daisy’s family on the framework. It was incredible to see the love and hard work that went into this house, and even more amazing getting to be a part of it.

At the beginning of this journey, we were asked to write down “Why I Build”. I believe I wrote something along the lines of wanting to give back to my community and put my knowledge of interior design and construction to a greater use. I now realize it is much more than that. “I Build” because I want to create the tangible home so that Daisy and her children can create the intangible memories. I want them to have a front porch they can decorate with Christmas lights or use as home base when playing tag. I want them to have a space to invite friends over and drink lemonade in the summer.

So now that I think about it, answering the statement “Why I Build” is an easy one for me…I build to give Daisy, Daizia, Khalis, and Kevin the same fond memories that my childhood home gave to me.

Written by Sara Kotarski