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Women Build brings community together to help single mom

A hardworking single mom will be a homeowner later this year, thanks in large part to other women in the community organized by Habitat for Humanity.

“I want to have something to leave my child,” Shanetta Shuler said. “It’s always been a dream of mine to own a home and finally have a yard to spend time in.” Thanks to Habitat’s Women Build 2017, her dream will soon come true.

Habitat has hosted Women Build events before, but this one is different, with women organizing the build and leading the efforts to raise money for Shanetta’s new home as well as doing the actual construction when the time comes. “What we decided to do this time is see how we could actually bring the women together in the community to fundraise for this project,” said Emily Fernald, director of homeowner services for Central South Carolina Habitat. “We went the team route.”

The news of the project spread through social media and word of mouth, and nearly 50 women formed six teams to raise money: McCrory Construction Empowering Women Together, FeNailed it!, Pretty Tough, HDR/ICA, SISters, and Tougher Than Nails. They succeeded beyond all expectations, combining to bring in $16,584.09, covering more than 20 percent of the total cost of the project. Sponsors such as SCE&G will cover the rest, and construction is set to begin in May.

“It is going to be a rehab but a massive rehab,” Fernald said. “We’re pretty much overhauling the house. For Shanetta, it’s going to be awesome.” Fittingly for Shanetta, the build will include a Mother’s Day framework ceremony open to all the women helping with the project.

“Everybody can sign in honor of their mother,” said Nicole Kopenhaver of McCrory Construction, a team leader and planning committee member. “So this house will be built on top of framework that has all these dedications.”

Like all Habitat participants, Shanetta was required to contribute “sweat equity,” helping build homes for others as others will help her. She took to the task eagerly and with constant smiles, earning the nickname “Ms.Sunshine” and completing 300 hours of service in just 9 months while also working, caring for her daughter (Milaysha,9) and volunteering at her church. The Women Build project does not exclude men, and all help is welcome, but the focus is on the ladies who are leading the way.

“I think it’s just really an opportunity for women to feel empowered,” Fernald said. “It really shows them that you can do it. You can be a homeowner. You can build your house. You can take care of your house, and we’re all here to support you and be behind you.”

Kopenhaver echoed the sentiment, adding that the message the project sends is a good one for the next generation. “Maybe her daughter seeing these women banding together to do something for her and her mom will now instill a quality in her, so when she grows up it all comes full circle.”

“We can do it. Other women can do it too, just as well as men,” Shanetta said. “God is good.”

Fundraising for Women Build is complete, but volunteers are still needed for the construction phase, and tasks are available for those not physically able to take part in the build. Visit the Habitat website for more information on volunteering.

Pictured, left to right: Nicole Kopenhaver, Shanetta Shuler, Emily Fernald




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