Step aside, Rosie the Riveter

t An all-woman crew builds a Habitat home.

The Kitsap County chapter of Habitat for Humanity began a special project this week constructing a two-bedroom home using an all-female volunteer work force.

The project, which began Monday, is earmarked for Bremerton resident Marty Burkhart, a disabled grandmother of six who applied to Habitat due to the unsatisfactory size and location of her current home.

Burkhart met all the qualifications to receive a Habitat home, including the investment of 500 hours “sweat equity” on other projects.

In line with Habitat’s standard practice, those working on Burkhart’s home may use that time to qualify for their own home.

South Kitsap Commissioner Jan Angel was on hand Monday morning in a ceremony that acknowledged volunteers, sponsors and included a ceremonial “wall raising.”

“This demonstrates that when a woman wants to do something, she can get it done,” Angel said. “This is a great project that we can all share in.”

The allocation of female labor on this specific project is also ceremonial, according to Habitat Executive Director Lori Oberlander.

Women, she said, provide a key component to almost every Habitat project.

“Women are always working with us but sometimes they can feel a little outnumbered,” Oberlander said. “This project will make them feel more involved.”

Burkhart’s new home is part of the 18-home New Hope Development off of Arsenal Way in West Bremerton. It reflects a trend in which Habitat will build 14 homes in 2008. This is double last year’s total, and four times more what was constructed in 2006.

“I believe in the stuff that Habitat does,” said volunteer Jan Greenwood of Bremerton, who is between jobs. “I have seen the substandard housing in Bremerton, and throughout Kitsap, and have seen the conditions people live in.

“I am a woman. This is a woman’s build. How can I not be involved?” she said.

Thea Gould, who was a civilian contractor in Iraq for four years, said Bremerton compares with that location because “people are volunteering to build homes for families and individuals.

“Everyone is coming together to donate their time. They are building something that is positive, that is going to last. I want to do something that makes a difference,” she said.

The project will continue through the summer with an expected September finish date. Habitat is soliciting women to volunteer, with crews of 15 needed on the weekends and eight to 10 needed on Tuesdays and Thursdays. All those interested should call Sibylle at (360) 479-3853.

An orientation is required but is available online at, under “volunteers.”

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