Habitat for Humanity of Madison and Clark County on Saturday conducted a “women’s build” Saturday in Berea’s Hope Estates subdivision.

About 35 people showed up to work on two houses the organization wants to complete before the end of the year.

Despite the day’s emphasis, however, about half of the 35 workers were men.

That did not bother Helen Ward, president of the international organization’s local affiliate. She was just happy to have so many people swinging hammers and performing other tasks.

“A women’s build is not about excluding men, but including women,” she said. “I’m just glad to have all of the workers on the job today. We need to get these two houses finished, so we can start on a third one before the weather gets too bad.”

“Whenever we have a women’s build, a lot more men than usual show up,” said Amanda Pardieu, a Berea College junior who coordinates the college’s Habitat affiliate.

“We also get more work, and better work, done by everybody, because the women and men try to out do each other,” said Pardieu.

A junior from West Virginia, Pardieu pounded nails into boards on a house’s back deck as she talked.

Most of the women on the job site Saturday were Berea College students.

The size of the men’s contingent was boosted by Jeff McKinney and several of his students from the Clark County Area Technology Center.

In their Winchester shop, the group had prefabricated walls for an outbuilding which they erected Saturday next to a nearly finished house in Hope Estates.

The local Habitat affiliate tries to organize a women’s build about every other year, Ward said. Three years ago, one of the houses in Hope Estates was built entirely by women.

Getting women involved in Habitat helps them to learn new skills, which they may not have thought they could acquire, said Jackie Couture of Waco.

“Most women might look at a power tool and think they could never use one,” she said. “If they come to a Habitat women’s build, they will discover they can.

“I joined Habitat about five years ago, so I could learn how to build my own house,” she said, “and that’s what I did.”

She continues to volunteer for Habitat on a regular basis.

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