Volunteers double expectations during Women’s Build Day

Published 10:58 pm Saturday, May 9, 2009

NATCHEZ — Workers had to start sharing tools Saturday after more than twice the expected number of volunteers showed up for Habitat for Humanity’s Women’s Build Day.

Women’s Build Day is part of a national effort to recruit volunteers for Habitat for Humanity, and Natchez Habitat Secretary Duncan McFarlane said that the group had anticipated 25 volunteers to show up at the project site at 34 Claiborne Street.

They got that many volunteers, plus 30 more.

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And with all those workers, the group was able to complete the decking of the house they were building in less than four hours.

“We quit early because they did so much work that we ran out of building materials,” McFarlane said. “I had my next order of materials not coming in until Monday, but we could have started putting up walls.”

The group has been hindered from doing more work on the house by adverse weather conditions in recent weeks, but Saturday’s efforts helped them catch up in one fell swoop, Natchez Habitat President Andrew Calvit said.

“This probably would have taken us a couple of days,” he said.

“When some volunteers tired out, the others took over.”

Habitat for Humanity volunteers work to build the houses on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, and most of the volunteers who are able to work during the week are retirees, Calvit said.

“On a given Saturday, a big crowd for us is eight people, so this (week was) the equivalent of six Saturdays,” McFarlane said.

And Michelle Mayfield, who will be the homeowner of the house — the 13th Habitat house in Natchez — when it is completed, said she appreciated all of the extra help today.

“They were all very nice and kind, dedicated, good volunteers,” Mayfield said. “I enjoyed working with them.”

Habitat for Humanity builds houses for needy families with volunteer labor, and sells them to the homeowner — who is expected to contribute hundreds of labor hours to the construction of the home — at cost.

The organization then uses the mortgage payments the homeowner makes to build other Habitat houses.