A large pit in the ground currently exists at the site of a future three-bedroom house, to be built by the Habitat for Humanity of Oakland County’s Women Build team in Southfield.

A large pit in the ground currently exists at the site of a future three-bedroom house, to be built by the Habitat for Humanity of Oakland County’s Women Build team in Southfield.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Habitat for Humanity new build breaks ground in Southfield

By: Sarah Wojcik | Southfield Sun | Published August 25, 2020

 Habitat for Humanity of Oakland County Executive Director/CEO Tim Ruggles, left, and Women Build Chair Johnna Struck attend the groundbreaking ceremony for the new build in Southfield Aug. 19.

Habitat for Humanity of Oakland County Executive Director/CEO Tim Ruggles, left, and Women Build Chair Johnna Struck attend the groundbreaking ceremony for the new build in Southfield Aug. 19.

Photo provided by Katie Brumfield

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SOUTHFIELD — In a quiet, tree-filled neighborhood, a giant hole in the ground signifies the start of a new beginning for one family, to be selected by Habitat for Humanity of Oakland County.

The three-bedroom house will be constructed by the Women Build team. On Aug. 19, the group held a groundbreaking ceremony at the site of their seventh annual home, located at 21396 Greenview Road, near Southfield and Eight Mile roads.

More than 40 local women throughout the year have fundraised and will gather friends and colleagues to construct the home under the leadership of the Habitat Oakland Construction Staff and Core Volunteers.

Since 2014, the Women Build team, which consists of a growing group of volunteers, has built or rehabilitated six houses. The homes, located in Southfield, Madison Heights, Oak Park and Pontiac, have provided stability and hope for six partner families.

“We’ve got a group of women from all walks of life, all business backgrounds,” Women Build Chair Johnna Struck said. “It’s beyond the most positive experience I’ve ever had.”

Struck is a founding member of the Women Build team and owns Changing Places Moving, which provides free move-in services for the families chosen to occupy the homes.

Struck’s personal story, which includes being down on her luck in 2002 and figuring out a way to purchase a home, raise children and start a business, was her inspiration for launching a local Women Build team for Habitat for Humanity.

“If you don’t have a home, it’s hard to get a foot up,” Struck said. “All of the people we help we can relate to. They’re all hardworking families and they’re just amazing.”

Homeowners perform hundreds of hours of “sweat equity” working alongside volunteers, and once the home is complete, pay an affordable and predictable mortgage.

“It takes hands to build a house, but only hearts can build a home,” Linda Rea, a local real estate agent and a member of the Women Build team, said in a statement. “We are part of that journey to fulfill a family’s dream.”

Each family has a unique and heartwarming story, Struck said.

No experience is necessary to join, and all help is welcome. Struck said she herself did not pick up a power tool until last year, but the skills learned and the relationships forged through teamwork and volunteerism are invaluable.

“Neighbors join in and bring lunch over, bring ice water over,” she said. “It’s the women who are on the team who truly are the foundation of every home — their time, talent and treasure. I would encourage anybody that wants to get involved to join.”

Katie Brumfield, a Habitat for Humanity of Oakland County marketing and communications associate, said the house in Southfield is slated to be done by late spring of 2021.

“The entire family is involved in the whole process and the sense of community that comes with it,” Brumfield said. “Another cool thing about Women Build is not only do you get to give back to the community, you also learn new skills, because you are on a construction site.”

For more information about the Women Build team, email johnna@cpmoving.com.

For more information about Habitat for Humanity of Oakland County, visit habitatoakland.org or call (248) 338-1843.

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