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'Build Week' to kick off Habitat for Humanity partnership

The Woodbury Community Foundation will kick off its partnership with Habitat for Humanity by hosting the first-ever "Build Week" at the Garden Gate development.

More than 90 volunteers will help build Habitat homes in Woodbury starting Monday, Aug. 29 through Friday, Sept. 2.

Woodbury Community Foundation Executive Director Alisa Rabin Bell said the organization's partnership with Habitat is unique in that the volunteers are not sponsored by large corporations and are Woodbury residents who are excited to provide affordable housing.

"It's a big deal for us as an organization to help and be part of a project like this," she added.

After conducting a survey in 2009, the Woodbury Community Foundation realized that housing should be one of its key initiatives.

The survey, done by Wilder Research, revealed 33 percent of Woodbury respondents thought the city lacks affordable housing.

It was also a mutual agreement between Habitat for Humanity and the Community Foundation to recruit volunteers for Build Week.

Rabin Bell said she hopes the event will be a jumping off point to finish up some indoor work that needs to be done on the Garden Gate homes through the winter. It's also intended to be part of ongoing volunteerism and philanthropy in Woodbury.

"There is two more years after this of work that still needs to be done," she said.

The foundation is also hoping to clear up any misconceptions about Habitat for Humanity volunteerism and the purchase process.

"It's not a simple process, it's a rigorous process that homeowners go through to get these homes. It's not a free home," Rabin Bell said. "Our role in this is to help shift historic perceptions about affordable housing."

She added that volunteers will be working to find local Woodbury residents in need of housing to fill Habitat homes.

The Community Foundation sought Woodbury residents, businesses and nonprofit organizations to get enough volunteers for build week and received well over the number that was anticipated.

"We had such a strong volunteer response for this project," Rabin Bell said.

Each volunteer will work a full day from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Some local businesses and churches have also volunteered to provide meals throughout the week.

Riham Feshir
Riham Feshir is a reporter and photographer for the Woodbury Bulletin. Her coverage includes Woodbury City Hall, Washington County Board of Commissioners and business news.  Follow Riham on Twitter @RihamFeshir for the latest updates.