HGTV show host part of National Women Build Week in Elgin
Joleena Mejia said she's been enjoying helping rehab her family's future home, a Victorian-era house in Elgin, alongside volunteers from Habitat for Humanity of Northern Fox Valley.
"It's nice to see it come together," said Mejia, a certified nurse assistant and single mother of six. "It's nice to meet all the people helping out."
On Wednesday, that included Alison Victoria, host of the HGTV series "Windy City Rehab," and the show's female crew members. This week is Habitat for Humanity's Women Build Week, when female volunteers help rehab or build homes at sites across the country.
Victoria said she's been part of the initiative for about five years. On her show, making a profit is primary, but Wednesday was all about helping someone, she said. "The reality is, so many people need help, so to be working here with a woman who's going to be living in the house with her six kids -- it's awesome."
Habitat for Humanity of Northern Fox Valley Executive Director Barbara Beckman said the agency is working on four homes this week: two in Elgin, one in South Elgin and one in Carpentersville.
"Women Build Week provides an opportunity for women to serve their communities by building a home alongside other women," Breckman said. "Women helping women sends a positive and powerful message."
As for Victoria and her crew, "It's always fun when we get a celebrity out," Breckman said.
The Northern Fox Valley agency had 2,200 volunteers -- about half of them women -- who provided 57,000 volunteer hours to build 10 homes last year, she said. Clients are required to put in 250 hours of "sweat equity" volunteering. The finished homes are appraised and sold at fair market value, and the agency provides a zero-interest mortgage, she said.
The number of female volunteers has increased over the years, Beckman said. "It's empowering to learn how to use a tool whether it's a drill or a saw, and it empowers them to do projects at their homes."
Mejia said she has helped install siding, windows and window frames, sand floors, and prime and paint walls. She and her kids hope to move in by June, she said.
"It's really exciting to see it come together, because it started from the beginning and I've been watching it grow," she said. "Now, it's coming closer and closer to the time that I am settling with my kids."