Alyssa Carpenter didn’t set out to be a leader.
A couple of years ago, she and a friend passed by the Habitat for Humanity booth at the Whatcom Home and Garden Show in Lynden. They saw some information about Habitat’s Women Build Program and decided to sign up.
They figured they might put in a day pounding nails on the upcoming build. But they soon got a call inviting them to join the Women Build leadership team, a group of volunteers working to organize and fund the build.
“We both just kind of went with it,” she says.
Working behind the scenes and on the job site at last year’s Women Build in Ferndale, Alyssa discovered she had a passion for building, leading, and making a difference.
This year, she’s back as the volunteer chairwoman for the Women Build 2013-14 Leadership Team.
Volunteering on the build site was empowering, says Alyssa, an office manager at a local advertising business. She helped roof a home, and learned to use a router and a chop saw
“By the end of the day, I was cool with it,” she said. She hadn’t had an opportunity to learn how to use power tools before. But on the Women Build job site, she felt comfortable asking for training. The skills she learned have already proved useful in her life, she says.
“You really don’t need to know anything about construction,” she says. “If you make a mistake, it’s not a big deal. They’ll show you how to fix it.”
Alyssa also enjoyed working alongside the house’s new owners, the Julio Ortiz family, on last year’s Women Build and seeing how the work they did together changed the family’s life.
Alyssa is excited about some improvements that will help the project have an even greater impact and also make the build more engaging for volunteers.
Women Build volunteers will be invited to join teams specific to each build day, and compete to creatively raise funds or in-kind donations for their building supplies.
“It helps you get excited for your day,” she says. “It brings in a little competition.”