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'Women Build' tackles 2 Armstrong Habitat projects

| Thursday, April 17, 2014, 12:26 a.m.
Louis B. Ruediger
Pictured in front of the Habitat Home for Humanity on Orr Avenue in Kittanning are Bob Zwier, Pam Struble, Gretchen Snyder, Melissa Schaeffer and the Rev. Colleen McFarland. Tuesday April 15, 2014.

Attention women. It's time to grab a hard hat and hammer — there's work to be done.

An Armstrong Habitat for Humanity house in Kittanning needs to be refurbished before a family can move in, and organizers hope that women will sign up to volunteer.

“It's getting such momentum,” said Michael McElhaney, Armstrong Habitat director.

Work on the two-story brick house at 1154 Orr Ave. will begin in early May. Although it is structurally sound, it will have to be renovated before it is in livable condition. A decision has not been made on who will get to call that house a home, McElhaney said.

Lowe's — one of the sponsors of the Habitat for Humanity International Women Build program — will train volunteers and will donate $5,000 in supplies. AHFH will need to raise an additional $20,000 to fix up the house before a family able to take on the low-interest mortgage can move in.

On Wednesday, several committee members and participants gathered inside the house to discuss the upcoming project, which will include tearing out the living room's stained green carpet, painting walls and repairing the front porch.

Pam Struble, AHFH committee chair, said this will be her first project with the organization and noted that it is the first time the county has been involved in Women Build.

She joked that her family all seemed to inherit a do-it-yourself gene. Her grandfather volunteered for years as a site supervisor for the Habitat organization in Ohio.

“We are very excited about the encouragement and support the project has generated from the community,” she said.

A big chunk of that support has come from Mark and Carolyn Snyder of East Franklin, who bought the house last year so they could donate it to Habitat. The couple plans to make a similar donation to the organization this year.

Mark Snyder grew up in Kittanning and said he and his wife want to do what they can to improve the town “one piece at a time.”

Their daughter, Gretchen, who has been refurbishing a building on Market Street, will be part of the Women Build project.

Area businesses have been supporting the effort. Ford's Flowers in West Kittanning has a donation box for customers to donate a dollar and sign a paper “House of Hope” card in support of Women Build. Churches will be providing meals for project volunteers.

Because there doesn't appear to be a shortage of volunteers signing up so far, the Women Build project will expand to include work on a Leechburg house, McElhaney said.

The home at 547 Locust St. was built last year but is months away from being finished before a single mother and her 7-year-old child can move in. Women Build volunteers will be able to choose if they want to work at the Leechburg or Kittanning house when they sign up.

Mark Snyder said the Women Build program deserves a lot of credit.

“Whoever came up with the idea hit the nail on the head,” he said.

Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or

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