[Hpn] Sisters and Friends aid building effort

wtinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Sat, 27 Jul 2002 19:43:28 -0400


VOLUNTEERS: Group constructs a Habitat for Humanity home.
By Asta Corley
Anchorage Daily News
(Published: July 27, 2002)
Future Habitat for Humanity homeowner Waunda McVay has been renting since
moving from her parents' home in Washington state at age 18.
She lives in a small, two-bedroom Anchorage apartment with her husband,
Kendric, and five children. Malfunctions have included a leaking hot water
heater and windows that won't shut. It has taken lots of blankets and love
to stay warm, she said, even though their electricity bill has been $90 a
month at times.
"It's definitely been a trial," said McVay. "The joy is coming because my
house is just around the corner."
A wall-raising ceremony for the McVays' Habitat home was held June 28 at N.
Lane Street and Parsons Avenue in Mountain View. Anchorage School District
Superintendent Carol Comeau and local women volunteers participated. The
project is scheduled for completion in early August. Items such as closet
doors, carpet and the front porch still need to be installed.
Habitat for Humanity International, headquartered in Americus, Ga., was
founded by Millard and Linda Fuller in 1976. It's a nonprofit, ecumenical
housing ministry that strives to eradicate poverty housing and homelessness.
Homes have interest-free mortgages, and payments go back to Habitat to fund
other homes.
Habitat for Humanity-Anchorage built six houses last year. Some of its local
sponsors include oil companies, churches and civic organizations.
Sisters and Friends, a sponsoring group consisting of women volunteers, is a
smaller grass-roots movement in charge of working on the McVay home.
"Men are there to help mentor and help the women build, not to be handed
tools by the woman who doesn't know what she's doing," said Jeri Bidinger,
president of Habitat for Humanity-Anchorage and project director for Sisters
and Friends.
The slogan at their site reads: "Because we are so richly blessed, we count
it a privilege to give."
"We see ourselves as being the hands and feet of Jesus to these people that
are in need," said Bidinger.
Sisters and Friends obtained a $20,000 grant from Women Building a Legacy, a
Habitat program, to build homes in which women are the predominant builders
on the site. Sisters and Friends raised another $50,000 through the
community. One of the main goals of Women Building a Legacy is to highlight
the long-term impact of stable housing on children.
McVay applied for a Habitat home three times before she became eligible. At
the time she was approved, she was a single mom expecting her fifth child.
McVay, 33, is a self-employed day care provider. Her husband, Kendric, 31,
is a cook at Red Robin. They were married a little more than a year ago.
Sisters and Friends was started by Bidinger and daughter, Caitlin, in
September 2000. The inspiration for its inception occurred while Bidinger
was walking on the Coastal Trail with a friend working for Habitat. They
discussed house sponsorship.
"It kind of perked in my mind a little bit," said Bidinger.
That summer, she spent a day on a Habitat project and helped put on the
roof.
"There's just this level of enthusiasm. The feeling of that first framing
weekend is just such a hoot."
About 150 volunteers have worked on the McVay site this year. Sisters and
Friends has had as many of as 40 members working simultaneously.
"There's a core group that's there every time," said Bidinger. "They would
not miss a day for the world."
The McVays are anticipating receiving the keys to their first home. They
have poured concrete and put the required 400 to 500 hours of sweat equity
into its construction.
"It personalizes our home," said McVay. "It gives you a strong sense of
ownership, like you're really accomplishing something."
The McVay family attends Believers Victory Outreach in Anchorage. They wrote
scriptures on the framing interior of the home. Underneath the foundation in
the dirt, her 17-year-old daughter wrote: "God bless this house."
McVay said the home will make a 180-degree change in their lives.
Last year, she said, she had all the patience in the world. Now that the
date is approaching, she's really eager about moving in.
"This is like a dream come true. It's still sinking in that this is really
happening."

Reporter Asta Corley can be reached at acorley@adn.com.

Copyright  2002 The Anchorage Daily News