Building community and a home through Habitat for Humanity's Women Build

Elon students joined President Connie Ledoux Book and other community leaders on Wednesday to kick off the annual Women Build, an effort by local women to fund and build a new Habitat for Humanity home. 

A group of local women leaders joined future homeowner Cotenna Sellars on Wednesday to lift and put into place the walls of what will become her three-bedroom Habitat for Humanity home on Ross Street in Burlington. 

President Connie Ledoux Book talks with future homeowner Cotenna Sellars, right, as they hold the second exterior wall of Sellars' home in place. 
Joining in the effort were President Connie Ledoux Book and several Elon students, with the group gathering to launch this year's Women Build for Habitat for Humanity of Alamance County. During the coming months, women from around the community will work alongside Sellars to build her home. 

"We don't build houses for people — we build houses with people," said Cathy Lamb, associate executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Alamance County, at that launch event Wednesday. "We build community with one another."

Assisting with this year's Women Build is the university's Habitat chapter, which recently celebrated its 30th year. The chapter has organized a group of eight faculty, staff and students to work a Women Build shift at the Ross Street site this weekend, one of the dozens of volunteer sessions the Elon community has participated in during the past year through the university chapter. 

Each year, the university chapter raises the money for a Habitat home and coordinates volunteers, with 200 to 250 students having volunteered during the past year. The chapter recently dedicated the 28th house it has supported, which was the 167th built through Habitat for Humanity of Alamance County. 

"They are only temporary residents of Alamance County, but they come out to volunteer," Lamb said. 'I think that's amazing."

‚ÄčThe annual Women Build organized by Habitat for Humanity of Alamance County is a unique opportunity to build a house using contributions — of time and money — from women in the community. Lamb said Women Build serves to empower women while also raising awareness about housing needs in the community. 

Book talks with members of Elon's Habitat for Humanity chapter at the Ross Street worksite as the Women Build gets underway. 
"There is a huge need for affordable housing in Alamance County," Lamb said. "We hope the women who come on site can better understand that."

Book had the opportunity to chat with Sellars, standing next to her as the group raised the second exterior wall of her future home. After the crew secured the wall, Book said that many of the values of Habitat for Humanity reflect values the university holds dear. 

"I understand the importance of home ownership as a key for a family to thrive," Book said. "I am so honored to be here with these leaders in our community, and the future women leaders from Elon who have been working with the Kernodle Center and the university's Habitat for Humanity chapter."

Joining Book in the effort along with Elon students were women leaders from government, the nonprofit sector, higher education and business. During the next four to six months, groups of women from throughout the community will step forward to work on Sellars' house. Sellars said she's humbled by the support she sees. 

"I am just so excited to get it going," she said, stepping back to take a look at her house as it took shape Wednesday.