Eisenhower women build home, camaraderie
May 9, 2013 10:44AM
Staff members from Eisenhower High School volunteered their time during spring break and on weekends at Habitat for Humanity. | Supplied photo
Updated: June 13, 2013 5:34PM
More than a dozen women who work at Eisenhower High School in Blue Island recently replaced vacation time and weekends for hard labor at no pay — and loved it.
Habitat for Humanity offered a rare kind of compensation, they said, as they toiled over spring break and on several Saturdays to help bring home ownership to others.
“It was a rewarding feeling to know that I somehow had a hand in building what will be someone’s home very soon,” teacher Syreetha Holmes said.
They took part in Women Build, sponsored by Habitat. The international project has resulted in the construction of more than 2,000 homes.
“I was inspired to work on the Women Build project because I believe in Habitat’s mission to provide affordable housing to those in need. We had a lot of fun working together for such a worthy cause,” teacher Adrienne Johnson said.
“Volunteering for a Habitat project is something that I have always wanted to do. I was not sure about how to get involved until I heard about the Women Build project,” social worker Aida Maravillas said. “It felt great to pay it forward by giving to another woman who can fulfill her dreams of home ownership.”
Despite the cold and physical challenge, or perhaps because of them, everyone expressed fulfillment.
“I felt rewarded from giving back and appreciated what I learned from the crew about home improvements. Also, I felt dirty and exhausted. Hauling rocks is hard work,” psychologist Alison Vanderlaan said.
“I had wanted to volunteer for a while now. Habitat seemed like a good fit,” Kim Malysa said. “We really worked hard. We took down old paneling, measured and installed drywall and installed some insulation.”
Habitat’s mission and the organizational efforts of social worker Toyia Miller-Peters brought the team together.
“I’ve always wanted to volunteer at Habitat for Humanity,” teacher Cheryl Popko said. “I thought it would be a wonderful experience to share my knowledge in a build. What a great experience, and I plan on continuing with this volunteer program.”
The “Cardinal Cuties,” as the volunteers called themselves, found that serving together created a bond.
“The best moments were working side by side with fellow staff members,” Vanderlaan said.