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Women Volunteers Celebrate Mother's Day Early by Building Affordable Homes for New York City Families

Volunteers raise $14,000 for construction costs

BROOKLYN, N.Y., May 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Thirty-five women volunteers from all walks of life celebrated an early Mother's Day today by building affordable homes for -- and with -- low-income moms who will own these homes in the future.

Sponsored by Habitat for Humanity - New York City, the annual Women Build featured all-women crews working together to help solve the city's housing crisis, revitalize a low-income neighborhood and honor mothers everywhere.

They helped frame kitchen walls in Habitat-NYC's complex of 41 affordable homes in Ocean Hill-Brownsville, Brooklyn. The volunteers also raised $14,000 to help cover the project's construction costs.

"This is a wonderful tribute of love and respect to mothers and to all women throughout New York City," said Rachel Hyman, Habitat-NYC's Chief Operating Officer. "Our city's housing crisis affects everyone, and it unfortunately hurts women and families most of all. Half of all families in New York headed by women live in poverty. Our volunteers are dedicated to giving them a hand up in life."

Among the volunteers was Vanessa Rohrbach, an executive assistant at a bank. She came to honor her mother, who ran a business while battling cancer, and her sister, who struggled for eight years waiting for a heart transplant.

"Women Build is important to me because I come from a family of extremely strong women," Vanessa said. "Growing up, there were really tough times, and my mother would always say that we had to count our blessings because there were people that had it so much worse. My being part of Women Build is a way to honor their strength and courage and give back in a small way."

Volunteer Fredeswilda Maraj, a single mother who recently earned her certificate in carpentry from Bronx Community College, said: "I know how hard it is to find affordable housing in New York City. I'm elated to have a small part in a project that helps build affordable homes for those in need."

She added, "Presently, women are the minority in the construction business. Hopefully projects like these will give women the opportunity to see for themselves that they, too, can contribute to a building project and change the status quo."

Working side-by-side the volunteers were many of the women who will live in these homes.

Future Habitat-NYC homeowner Grace Strachan and her 19-year-old daughter Tawanna were delighted to have so many dedicated volunteers helping them build their new three-bedroom home.

Esther Huambo, also a future Habitat-NYC homeowner, currently shares a bedroom with her two children in her grandmother's home, and "there is hardly any walking space in the room." A deeply religious woman, Esther added: "Anything is possible if you have faith and trust in God. My family being chosen by Habitat-NYC is proof."

This LEED-standard "green" building is being constructed with environmentally friendly materials and energy-efficient methods that will help protect the health -- and pocketbooks -- of its future inhabitants.

Habitat-NYC transforms lives and our city by uniting all New Yorkers around the cause of decent, affordable housing. With the help of an average of 10,000 volunteers every year, Habitat-NYC has built more than 180 affordable homes in the five boroughs of New York City. Learn more at

Contact: Beverly Cheuvront, 212-991-4000 x. 344,

SOURCE Habitat for Humanity - New York City
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