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MCLB women help build local Habitat for Humanity homes

By Regina Hegwood | | May 11, 2000

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Women from MCLB Albany laid sod, planted shrubbery, built and installed inner and outer wall frames, caulked windows and doorways and performed numerous other construction tasks Saturday at a Flint River Habitat for Humanity subdivision.
Seventeen women  wives of active-duty and retired Marines, female civilian Marines and a retired female civilian Marine  worked on three houses that will become the homes of local families who cannot qualify for mortgage loans because of limited incomes.
The womens construction day began with a devotion given by Cheryl Gratton, a psychologist.
Gratton read selected passages from a current best seller about the power from within that is available to women.
Grattons prayer that asked for Gods blessing on the group and their efforts, and the women helped themselves to morning snacks and beverages provided by members of Covenant Presbyterian Church of Albany.
John Lane, a Flint River Habitat construction supervisor, oversaw Saturdays work. Lee Engen and Heather Smith, who are working with Flint River Habitat under an AmeriCorps program, were also on hand Saturday.
The young women are paid a stipend to cover their living expenses. After a year of construction work, theyll receive education vouchers for college.
Lane brought the groups focus back to the work awaiting them all when he explained that the sod, stacked on wooden pallets, needed to be laid before the grass died.
The women went in three directions  some to lay sod at one house, some to lay sod at a house down the street, and some to build wall frames at a house across the street.
Engen and Smith provided one-on-one instruction for the tasks at hand.
It was instant gratification for me, said Debbie Freed, civilian Marine secretary to Col. Wayne Phillips of Materiel Command. At the end of the day, I could really see that we had done something ... especially when we raised those wall frames. It was just a wonderful learning experience.
Dorothy Lee, who coordinated the MCLB Albany womens participation in the Women Build 2000 Habitat for Humanity program, said she felt the opportunity for the women to work together was an important benefit as well.
It really means a lot to me to know that Ive been able to help with such a worthy cause, said Lee. Owning your own home is the center of the American dream, and its wonderful to know weve been part of making that happen for someone.
But working together was fun too, Lee continued. I think sharing work that is so important has brought us closer together and given all of us a clearer sense of ourselves, individually and collectively.
Vickie Eberhart, a secretary in the Life Cycle Management Center, was surprised about how much the women actually accomplished.
It was interesting to see this house taking shape, and every time we raised one of the wall frames, you could see where another room would be, said Eberhart. When I went home Saturday, I felt like I had really accomplished something.
Jeannie Aplin, who is married to Col. James Aplin, assistant chief of staff of operations in MatCom, was impressed with the level of work the women did.
I couldnt believe it when John said, All right, now go over there and check those wall frames and bring me the one thats numbered 4, Aplin said.
I dont know what I expected, said Aplin, but, at first, I thought  hey, this is scary. Were building walls that will be in somebodys house!
When we finished, I could actually see the outline of the house. That was really something for me. I thought, Yeah! We can DO this!
Elizabeth Phillips first reaction was the opposite of Aplins.
I expected to build and raise walls, said Phillips, whose husband is the MatCom chief of staff, and when John told us to lay sod, frankly, I was disappointed.
But by the end of the day, I felt differently.
Sod covered more than half that yard, and the rest had been seeded and topped with hay to hold in moisture.
Plus, wed planted more than 30 shrubs. We started bare dirt, and we had a finished product by the end of the day  we could see what wed accomplished, and it was deeply satisfying.
Other MCLB Albany volunteers were Terri Braden, Aida Cerney, Mary Deiter, Marilyn Drake, Amanda Fleming, Karen Hansis, Regina Hegwood, Susan Johnson, Gail Kramlich, Christine Morrison, Joanne Peters and Carmel Taylor.
Several of the women reported they hope to work together on a Habitat for Humanity project again soon.
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