Hammer time

Women Build Luncheon celebrates Habitat progress

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By Sherri Gardner Howell
Blount Today

It was a long way from the stereo-typical "women who lunch." While the women who filled the Airport Hilton on May 17 were certainly full of Southern charm and gentility, these were women -- and many men -- with a serious purpose and a task to complete.

The Habitat 2007 Women Build Luncheon was designed to empower, thank and celebrate women who rolled up their sleeves, picked up hammers and saws and got the job done, both in fund raising and actually building of a home for Habitat
for Humanity.

Joan Cronan, University of Tennessee Women’s Athletic Director, was the featured speaker, and Vicky Fulmer, who has had an active part in the Women Build project, introduced her.

Fulmer, who had recently been at the home the group was building for Lori Smith, said the experience of building with two of her daughters, Brittany and Courtney, was challenging and hard work. "I never imagined I would be on a roof, putting down shingles," Fulmer said of the work they did at the Mother’s Day Women Build. "I was so happy to hear the roof didn’t leak when it rained the next week."

Fulmer added, "From my heart, I really believe that the most important thing in life is to give to others. It is the best gift you can give yourself, and to others. The giver receives the blessing, and the one who got the gift receives the blessing."
Cronan, who is an avid tennis player, compared Habitat to tennis. "In life, and in tennis, it is better to serve than to receive. When you serve, you can make a difference. Habitat makes a difference."

Cronan, who has been involved in two builds with Habitat, told of one Women Build in Knoxville when UT Lady Vol Head Basketball Coach Pat Summitt and Lady Vol star Candace Parker were also on hand to help.

"I looked up, and Pat and Candace were heading for the roof to work. My athletic director hat took over as I saw our head
coach and star player up on the roof. I told them, ‘No. You come down here and work on the porch."

A silent auction was also part of the luncheon, and RaRa Schlitts’ original paintings were attracting much attention. Other items included gift certificates to area attractions and restaurants, services and goods.

The Women Build began in early May and plans are to finish the home for Lori Smith and her 16-year-old daughter, Brittney, at the end of June. Women can sign up to volunteer to work on the job site by calling April Becker at 865-804-2839. Two work shifts are scheduled each day throughout June on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Construction experience is
not required; on-the-job training is provided.

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