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Heels to Hammers event helps families in need

by Lindsey Wells | May 15, 2018 at 4:00 a.m.

Through the end of the week, women in Hot Springs will participate in the construction of two Garland County Habitat for Humanity homes through the organization's Heels to Hammers event, formerly known as Women's Build.

Over 200 volunteers will work on the homes through Saturday alongside a construction crew, after which they will present the homes to two Hot Springs families in need. Construction takes place from 8 a.m. to noon each day. WindowMart is this year's presenting sponsor, and Lowe's Home Improvement and Hot Springs Village are also sponsors.

Cindy Wagstaff, executive director of Garland County Habitat for Humanity, said that the families on the receiving end of the homes are chosen through an application process based on their need for housing, their ability to repay the mortgage and their willingness to partner with others. She said this year's families are "very eager" and have already begun working toward the sweat equity on the homes. The families will be on site this week working alongside the construction crews as much as their work schedules allow.

Though this is the fourth year for the event, this will be the second consecutive year that the volunteers will build two houses instead of just one. This year the properties are located at the intersection of Garland and School streets.

Lunch is served every day for the volunteers and coffee and doughnuts will be provided every morning.

ReMax of Hot Springs Village will provide the doughnuts; lunch will be donated by Chick-fil-A today, LongHorn Steakhouse on Wednesday, ABI Insurance on Thursday, Hotel Hot Springs & Spa on Friday, and WindowMart on Saturday.

In addition to free lunch and breakfast, all volunteers will receive a T-shirt, nail apron, safety goggles, construction pencils and gloves.

The fun part of the weeklong event for the volunteers, Wagstaff said, is that no construction experience is necessary.

"Our regular crew really enjoys that. They thoroughly enjoy showing others how to build. The homeowners will be there, too, and they don't have experience in construction either," Wagstaff added. "There's so very few events where you get to work side by side with the person you're helping, and a construction site just kind of eliminates a lot of barriers and so everybody is the same on a construction site. It's one of those rare opportunities to get to know who you're helping. They're just like everyone else, doing their thing."

Sonya Eisenhour, this year's event chair, said that although the event was created for women, men are also encouraged to participate.

"It's a women's build, but, sure, men are encouraged to be involved. Our goal is to get more people involved in Habitat and for the men, to keep them coming back even after the women's build," she said.

This is Eisenhour's first year being on the committee, but she has been involved with the program since its inception.

"I can tell you what it did for me -- part of it is giving women an opportunity to participate in something that's usually a male-dominated thing. It's just being a part of something bigger and just giving back," she said.

Once the houses are completed, each volunteer will be invited back to attend the official dedication ceremony for the families.

Wagstaff said that she and the rest of the event organizers do keep in touch with the recipients of previous years' homes.

"Actually, one of the families (from last year) ended up having a baby and it was the New Year's baby this year," she said. "They've really enjoyed being neighbors. The families get along well and we stay in touch with them."

She added that the committee's goal this year is to raise $15,000 with plans to grow the event to fully fund a house in the next couple of years.

Local on 05/15/2018

Print Headline: Heels to Hammers event helps families in need

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