Building more than a homeTwo local Habitat for Humanity volunteers were busy last week at a project in St. Paul where they got a chance to meet a former U.S. president.
Sharon Pfieffer said it’s the best job she’s never been paid to do. But it’s a job well enough done for her efforts to earn a presidential pat on the back.
Pfieffer, and a cavalcade of other Habitat for Humanity volunteers from around the Twin Cities, received a visit last week from the organization’s most well known spokesman –Jimmy Carter.
“(Carter has) such huge visibility for (Habitat for Humanity),” said Pfieffer, a retired banker who began volunteering more than a decade ago for Habitat, the non-profit organization that helps low-income families become home owners. “We were working hard to get the house ready for his visit.”
The 39th American president flew into the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport last week to check out the progress made at two “Carter Work Project” sites in the Twin Cities. He stopped by the Habitat for Humanity house Pfieffer, a Woodbury resident, was working on Oct. 9 in the Payne-Phalen neighborhood of St. Paul.
Carter also visited a total of a half dozen Habitat houses under construction in the east St. Paul neighborhood. One of those happened to be a project Bill Lund was working on. Lund, of Woodbury, shook hands with Carter, but said his highlight of the project was being able to work side by side with new homeowner Ya Landa Kinchlow.
“It was a real special opportunity,” Lund said. “(Kinchlow) has been working with us all week, and she’s been a joy to be around.”
Kinchlow, a single-mother of two teenage boys, said she wanted to spend most of the week working with the volunteer construction crews at her new home on York Avenue so she could learn a thing or two about being handy.
“I’ve been getting my hands in there and helping out where I can,” said Kinchlow, who as a homeowner in the Habitat for Humanity program, must complete 300 hours of “sweat equity” work on hers or other Habitat homes.
“All the volunteers have been so wonderful; I know I’ll be able to use what they’ve taught me along the way.”
Lund, a retired 3M processing engineer, has been volunteering with Habitat for the better part of the past decade and said Kinchlow is one of the first homeowners he’s come across that has spent so much time working on her home.
“I’ll see homeowners maybe once a month or after the project is finished,” Lund said. “It really is fun to see someone so engaged in their own home, out here every day, while it is being worked on.”
Not far from Kinchlow’s home Pfieffer was busy leading an all-female crew rehabbing a home for Habitat’s “Women Build” project, which encourages female volunteer teams to participate in Habitat.
Pfieffer, daughter of a carpenter, said it’s a thrill to be able to help lead other women in rehabbing homes for Habitat.
“I learned a little bit by watching when I was growing up and a lot by doing it myself in recent years,” Pfieffer said. “‘Women Build’ allows women to get involved with Habitat and really get in their hands dirty and do work that some of them might be more timid to do if they were at a project surrounding by volunteers who have a lot more experience with home building.”
“It’s just a wonderful program and to be able to participate in and to be able to get to do something that is so hands on and helps transform lives,” Pfieffer said. “I’ve learned so much through this program. It’s really been a gift to me to be involved.”
To learn more about Habitat for Humanity projects around the Twin Cities or the “Women Build” program, go to www.tchabitat.org or www.facebook.com/tchabitatwomenbuild.