Women are principal builders of Patuxent Habitat project in Lusby

By Meghan Russell
The Calvert Recorder
Sunday, December 5, 2010; 12:42 AM

Members of the Jones family had a lot to be thankful for at Thanksgiving, including their new home in Lusby.

The former Broomes Island residents were selected by Patuxent Habitat for Humanity as the recipients of the house, the construction of which was made possible through a Habitat partnership with Lowe's Home Improvement.

"I'm happy with the whole, entire place," Crystal Jones said, as she stood in her new living room. "I've already picked up furniture."

The two-story, three-bedroom house represents the first time Patuxent Habitat for Humanity conducted what is called the Women Build program, said board of directors President Dan Doherty. The program aims to have the majority of work done by female volunteers.

Habitat for Humanity is an international, nonprofit ecumenical Christian ministry that builds houses for low-income families. Patuxent Habitat for Humanity was incorporated as a nonprofit affiliate of the international group in 2003 and serves Calvert and St. Mary's counties.

"In the early stages [of building], it was principally women," Doherty said. "Some Saturdays, we had 20 women and we had to build the house to code just like any other house in the county. We even had a woman electrician."

Kendyl Montgomery, a volunteer with the Women Build group from California who usually works behind the scenes on the business side of the Habitat chapter, said that it was her first time getting involved with construction but that it will not be her last.

"It was awesome; I came each week or as much as I could," Montgomery said. "I was very glad to be able to do this and help build a house - something normally women don't get involved in. But all of the women were great. I think they should have more of these."

Volunteers praised the family for their dedication to the project, especially the hours they spent working on the house.

"This family has put more real energy into their home than anybody I have ever worked with," said Larry Miller, head of the construction department at Lowe's in Hollywood. Lowe's donated $55,000 in cash and materials.

To qualify for a Habitat project, a family must be living in substandard housing - defined by the U.S. Department of Housing as a home that does not provide safe or adequate housing - be employed and agree to put in at least 250 hours of work on the house and 250 hours on another housing project, said Don Parsons, Patuxent Habitat's executive director.

Chris Jones, a carpenter, put in more than the required hours and enlisted teenage daughters, Sara, 17, and Amber, 16.

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