When people work together, amazing things happen.
This past Monday, Tahlequah Area Habitat for Humanity volunteers raised a wall on House No. 20. By Tuesday, almost all the walls were framed in, thanks to a group of traveling volunteers known as Care-A-Vanners. This week is also TAHFH’s “Women Build” Week.
TAHFH has participated for the past six years in the “Woman Build” event, which includes a mini-clinic on the safe use of hand and power tools.
“Seven women, including Lowe’s employees and homeowner Estefana Ledezma-Olvera, attended the class taught by a Lowe’s female employee,” said TAHFH Executive Director Linda Cheatham. “We participate as a way to get local women involved in house building and help them learn new skills.”
Anyone can help. Volunteer Janie Bright is on disability.
“Instead of wasting my time, I volunteer,” Bright said. “Everyone needs help. I need help. If I help, maybe I’ll get help when I need it.”
Volunteer and business owner Pam Sharp enjoys the Habitat building projects.
“I do this because I love to give back to the community. And it gives a chance for people to have a home who wouldn’t have one and it gives them pride in themselves,” Sharp said.
Habitat for Humanity International RV Care-A-Vanners provide a hand up to local families in need of a simple, decent place to live. They can sign up for any of the scheduled home building projects and usually spend two weeks on a site, camping together as a group. Nine RV Care-A-Vanners are in Tahlequah volunteering, sharing their skills.
“We enjoy helping communities,” said Rebekah Fischer, a Care-A-Vanner. “Every community around the U.S. needs help sometimes. And you learn how different people live across the U.S.”
Fischer and her husband, Harry, and the other Care-A-Vanners go to the International Habitat for Humanity website to sign up.
This is the 10th house Becky Lindahl, and husband Dave, also Care-A-Vanners, have worked on.
“We like doing service work and enjoy traveling in our fifth wheel around the country,” Lindahl said.
Homeowner Estefana Ledezma-Olvera and some of her six children are also working on the home.
“I am so excited for my family!” Ledezma-Olvera said. She was working on the house Monday and amazed at the volunteers who came to help.
“I can’t believe people help,” she said. “I feel so happy, I’m jumping inside.”
The new homeowner said she was so surprised when she found out she’d been chosen.
“The house should be ready in November for my birthday,” she said. “This is a nice surprise to see for Mother’s Day weekend.”
Ledezma-Olvera works at Unarco, in Wagoner, making shopping carts said Cheatham.
“She works very hard to support her family,” said Cheatham. “She currently lives in a double-wide mobile home near Grand View School that is not well-insulated. In the summer, her bills reach upwards of $500.”
The Habitat house will be very energy-efficient, said Cheatham.
“Also, she has six children and only three bedrooms, so not everyone has a bedroom to sleep in or much privacy. They are very crowded,” she said. “The will be a five-bedroom, two-bathroom house with the four younger girls sharing two to a room, and the two older children will each have a bedroom to themselves. There are one boy and five girls.”
Cheatham has been involved with Habitat since 1989, when she met George Fulk. He wanted to get an affiliate started in Tahlequah, which they did in 1990. She has held various positions on the board, and three years ago, she was hired as a part-time executive director.
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