Empowered by Volunteering: Women United Members Take Satisfaction in Doing the Good Work of Habitat for Humanity

Tara Stowe, a member of Women United, tapes up the hole where a window will be installed for a new Habitat for Humanity home in Bessemer.

Tara Stowe says her favorite power tool is her miter saw.

Essentially a mounted circular saw, which the user can move left and right, the tool enables Stowe to easily make angled cuts into wood.

Stowe usually works behind a desk. As a longtime banker, now with Regions, she calls it “sit-down work.” So, she said it’s important to take opportunities to get up – or out — and move whenever possible.

Recently, Stowe did just that, alongside several other members of Women United – one of United Way of Central Alabama’s (UWCA) donor networks – by helping build a home for clients of Habitat for Humanity Greater Birmingham (HHGB).

HHGB, a UWCA partner agency, offers qualified clients the chance to own a home with an affordable mortgage and receive comprehensive homeowner education. The homes are built with a combination of labor from construction workers, the homeowners-to-be and volunteers.

The day Stowe was volunteering, Women United members were primarily helping install windows and doors on a new home in Bessemer.

Women United member Lenora Battle cuts plastic wrapping off of a door frame on a new Habitat for Humanity home in Bessemer.

While it was Stowe’s second time on a Habitat build with Women United, Lenora Battle, who was also on the site and has been involved with UWCA for about 25 years, had never actually volunteered with HHGB before. She said the experience was empowering.

“I feel girl power right now. I like seeing women get out and come together for an opportunity like this because we can do the same things that men can do,” Battle said. “It may take a couple more of us to lift some of these heavy things, but we can do it.”

Stowe added that volunteer events like the Habitat build show how women are moving into traditionally male-dominated industries.

“I see more and more women getting into the construction industry. Some industries have been more geared toward men, but now, this is one where women are stepping in,” Stowe said. “I love it. I like using my hands — besides on a keyboard.”

Val Williams, another Women United volunteer, was excited to finally be on site for the first time. Williams said she truly admires HHGB’s mission.

“Homeownership is so important, and I like that Habitat for Humanity removes those barriers that a lot of people run into because they might not have the perfect credit score, or they might not have the funds for a traditional mortgage,” Williams said. “I really love Habitat for Humanity.”

Williams has been a contributor to UWCA for almost 15 years. Events such as the Habitat build are what make her feel like she’s making an impact.

“To be able to go out and actually actively help, you just feel even more like a part of the good work,” Williams said. “It really feels more impactful, more empowering.”

Women United, one of UWCA’s three donor networks, seeks to inspire, educate and motivate women to become agents for positive change within Central Alabama through philanthropy, leadership and volunteerism.

To learn more about the group or any of UWCA’s other donor networks, visit https://www.uwca.org/leadership-giving-societies.