Volunteers to build two Juneau homes

Women team skills to construct houses

Posted: Monday, June 26, 2000

Women and men are banding together to build a couple of houses in Juneau -- for free.

The Juneau affiliate of Habitat for Humanity and the First Ladies' Build break ground Saturday on new homes for two Juneau families.

``All the work is done by volunteers and the home built by the First Ladies' Build will be entirely built by women,'' said Sandra Gast, the non-profit organization's public relations chairwoman.

Sponsored by female governors and governor's wives across the nation, First Ladies' Build constructs homes in or around cities in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity.

In Juneau, the women's arm of the organization will build a home for Alfred Votion and his sons, while Habitat for Humanity goes to work on new digs for Sharon Pratt and her four children.

The families, along with paying the mortgage, contribute to the building process, usually logging in 500 hours of work on their new home.

In 1998, Habitat for Humanity in Juneau built its first home, for Karen Hall and her family.

With Linda Orr and Amy Crook of Great Bear Construction overseeing the First Ladies' Build home, that organization will build its inaugural structure for the Votions.

It will also introduce many local women to the art of building a home.

``Many of the women never used the tools necessary to build a home before,'' Gast said.

To prepare the volunteer corps of women, Orr taught six classes on how to use power tools safely.

``About 40 or 50 women showed up and we were using table saws and all types of saws and power tools. It was great,'' Gast said.

Orr and Crook lead the way, with help from Joanne Lott of Jensen Yorba Lott Architects and Mary Anderson of Minch Ritter Architects who donated their services to design the First Ladies' Build home. Robin Gilcrist of Interline Design will act as the project manager.

``It's so exciting. This is one of the most amazing programs that have come along in a long time,'' Gast said.

A ground-breaking ceremony for both homes will take place 11 a.m. Saturday at the construction sites on Kanat'a Street.

For more information or to donate time or services, call 789-1417.

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