Program builds homes for women, by women

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published June 11, 2015

 Barbara Humphries, left, and Johanna Struck await the groundbreaking June 5 on a new home on Cornell Road  in Southfield.

Barbara Humphries, left, and Johanna Struck await the groundbreaking June 5 on a new home on Cornell Road in Southfield.

Photo by Donna Agusti


SOUTHFIELD —  Part of the American dream — the idea that anyone can achieve anything through hard work — most of the time includes being a homeowner. For some, though, that dream is harder to achieve.

Being a mother trying to make ends meet can make that dream even harder to achieve. Barbara Humphries, 37, of Southfield, knows that first hand.

A single mother of four children, Humphries always dreamed of owning a home, but life had other plans. After experiencing loss and hardship, Humphries said, she wasn’t sure where to turn to make her dream come true.

While working at Beaumont Hospital, Humphries heard about a fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity of Oakland County, a nonprofit organization that builds houses and provides resources for people in need.

Not long after Humphries researched the organization she received a call from a representative at Habitat and got involved with the Women Build program, an effort in which women build houses for female homeowners.

“It’s amazing. It’s like a blessing. It’s like a dream come true,” Humphries said. “I always wanted a home, and getting one that’s built from the ground up is even better, because I can put my input in it.”

According to Johnna Struck, chair of Women Build, the group was founded on the principle of building up women.

“There’s something about the camaraderie and empowerment for women to swing a hammer, put sheeting on a home, put trusses on a home,” Struck said. “It’s fabulous. We take for granted when we walk into our own home with our own appliances and our own bedrooms. We can’t imagine a mom not having that.”

Struck said the organization is always looking for women volunteers, and experience in home construction is certainly not a requirement to participate. All skill levels are welcome.

“None of us have experience,” Struck said. “We are all businesswomen, and none of us have any type of skill set, but we can learn and make a difference.”

For women who aren’t sure if they can make a commitment due to family or work obligations, Struck said that is also not an a issue.

“It’s all women, so we back each other up. When you can’t show up, somebody else is going to fill your shoes.”

Humphries said she encourages people who dream of owning a home, but may not have the means, to give Habitat a shot.

“Just try it,” Humphries said. “They genuinely want to help you. They’re all doing this work voluntarily. All these people who don’t even know you are willing to help you.”

For more information on Habitat for Humanity, visit