Women volunteer in Durham to build Habitat for Humanity homes

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- There's a massive worldwide Habitat for Humanity construction project underway for International Women Build Week: 6,000 volunteers working at 530 sites, including the one ABC11 visited in Durham where Jenny Justice shared her story.

She's an arts educator who used to work in Boston before a severe economic downturn. "So I lost my job, my life savings, went through bankruptcy and foreclosure," she said.

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Frustration followed her to Durham, when she moved south seeking a fresh start.

"I was too old and too educated," she said, "with two master's degrees, to get a job. So I applied for more than a hundred jobs then I said I have skills, and I started Durham Regional Theater."

After creating opportunities there for Bull Citizens, arts funding dried up and she found herself with no income. Then she got an eviction notice from her landlord, and feared she'd have to fend for herself without a roof over her head.

"And one day I happened to run into the director of Habitat and the director of development. And they asked me 'How are you doing?' I was bursting into tears because anytime anybody asked me," Justice said. "I was that far away from homeless. They said, 'Do you want a tiny home?' I said 'God bless you. Yes!'"

Her new tiny house is a short drive away from Saturday's Habitat job site.

It's almost ready for move in day while she and other volunteers swing hammers and perform more construction related tasks on a chilly Saturday.

Their work is happening at a time when affordable housing can be hard to find, especially a single family home, built new from the ground up and close to the trendy center of the Bull City.

But now that her home's practically done, except for some landscaping and interior work, she's happily working with an army of women who volunteered to build three more Habitat houses.

"I'm a self taught builder. But they're wonderful, they work with what your abilities are and they train you from there," said Justice.

Contact Habitat for Humanity if you're inspired to provide some sweat equity for the organization's local builds.
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