Women build affordable homes in Fullerton in celebration of International Women’s Day

Sharon Ellis, Habitat For Humanity of Orange County CEO, center, carries a roll of styrofoam housewrap, as volunteers Peggy Catron, right, and Wendy Tschiltsch, left, help cut wood planks at a Habitat for Humanity of Orange County build site on Thursday in honor of International Women’s Day.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)
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A team of women were hard at work Thursday morning building a house for a low-income family in Fullerton, as part of a weeklong campaign organized by Habitat for Humanity.

The nonprofit organized National Women Build Week to showcase the abilities of women builders leading up to International Women’s Day on Sunday.

“This is to not only empower women, but also to call attention to the real need for affordable housing in Orange County,” said Gladys Hernandez, director of marketing and advocacy for Habitat for Humanity of Orange County.

Volunteers Peggy Catron, left, makes a cut, as Wendy Tschiltsch helps secure a wood plank at a Habitat for Humanity of Orange County build site as part of National Women Build Week.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

A group of a dozen women volunteers spent the day wrapping the exterior of the four homes that Habitat is currently working on in a West Avenue neighborhood. Hernandez said the homes will be finished in August.

It takes the organization 10 months to build a home.

The volunteers were part of Habitat’s Women Build OC, a club of women builders dedicated to teaching women construction skills.

“We want to send the message that construction sites are also a place for women,” Hernandez said.

Volunteers Angie Mordell, left, Marilyn McCollum, center, and Mindy Bui work on a three-bedroom home at a Habitat for Humanity of Orange County build site in honor of International Women’s Day.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Ania Behm, who’s volunteered with the group for about three years, said she had little construction knowledge when she first started volunteering. Her first assignment was installing lighting in a home.

“I had no electrical experience and now I can install my own,” Behm said.

Due to her work with Habitat, Behm said she now knows how to use myriad construction equipment, including power tools like a chop saw.

In addition to the current houses, Habitat will also be working on four more down the street.

Behm said it’s rewarding to see the families open the door to their new home that she helped build.

“It is so beautiful,” Behm said. “A tearjerker.”

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