Habitat for Humanity's Women Build initiative helps empower volunteers during Wonder Lake construction

By NATE LINHART - nlinhart@shawmedia.com Published: Sunday, June 18, 2017 11:59 p.m. CDT
Sarah Nader – snader@shawmedia.com Chut Nakanishi (left) of Cary and Iram Shah of Deerfield, volunteers from Schneider Electric, joined Habitat for Humanity of McHenry County in Wonder Lake to take part in a Women Build initiative Thursday. Women Build volunteering isn't restricted to women, but it is women-focused. — Sarah Nader

WONDER LAKE – With the goal of getting more women to help with construction, Thursday’s Women Build saw 13 female volunteers spend the morning building a duplex in Wonder Lake for families in need.

Volunteers from Schneider Electric joined members of Habitat for Humanity of McHenry County to build a two-story duplex at 8505 Redbud Court in Wonder Lake.

Jerry Monica, president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity of McHenry County, said this is the first time the local nonprofit has participated in a Women Build in more than a decade.

“This is something we’ve wanted to do every single year, but we haven’t had the traction or sponsorship to do it of late,” Monica said.

The goal of Thursday’s Women Build was to encourage more women volunteers to help in building homes.

“It’s empowering, and it gives women the confidence to help on a construction project like this,” Monica said. “We wanted this to be a springboard for more women to come and help throughout the rest of the project.”

The duplex is being built for two families, Monica said, with one side being for a single mom with two children and the other for a family of four. One part of the duplex will be a four-bedroom, two-bathroom unit with the other side being a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home.

“A lot of times what we heard from the single mom is she needs a little help to provide the kids with stability,” Schneider volunteer Luz Maria Ronse said. “I like the fact that Schneider Electric really empowers women not only in our company, but also outside of the company.”

Schneider Electric recently announced a partnership renewal with Habitat for Humanity that will help more than 20 families have an affordable place to call home. Schneider Electric has committed more than $7.5 million to Habitat in 17 years of partnership.

“We want to make sure our money is going to where the community is really benefiting from,” said Iram Shah, senior vice president of customer transformation at Schneider Electric. “Every person has a right to live in a place where they can build their future.”

Shah said they wanted to do a build involving women from Schneider because women’s confidence and diversity is important to the company.

“Building homes can be a scary thing for women,” Shah said. “So we want women to come together, learn how to do construction together and be out there together and talk about it.”

Along with volunteering its time, Schneider Electric is providing Habitat with electrical equipment.

“Volunteers are so important, and so are our national partners like Schneider Electric,” Monica said. “They donate a lot of materials, so we get our service panels and circuit breaker switches from Schneider. Anything we can get like that helps keep the costs down to make the home more affordable.”

Schneider volunteers will be helping out with the construction site again next Thursday.

With the help of numerous volunteers from various companies and organizations, construction of the Wonder Lake duplex is expected to be complete by early fall.

Volunteer opportunities can be found on Habitat for Humanity of McHenry County’s website.