WALKERSVILLE, Md (WDVM) — Ahead of International Women’s Day, this week marked International Women Build Week and about 6,000 female volunteers across the U.S., Canada and India are getting to work.
A local crew in Frederick County, Maryland put in hours on Friday to help a Walkersville couple.
Fred Berney and his wife Ellen have lived in their home for the last 26 years.
In 2014, Ellen was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and in the years since, walking from room to room and up and down the stairs hasn’t been easy.
“Her early stage Alzheimer’s now is a little more. She needs a walker to get around and when she tries to get into certain rooms it’s been very difficult,” Fred explained.
In December, Fred recalls being in the kitchen when Ellen walked over to the first-floor bathroom. Moments later she stumbled and fell.
Fred says he reached out Habitat for Humanity in the hopes of providing more safety measures in their home for Ellen.
Volunteers with Habitat for Humanity and eight female Lowe’s employees got to work adding grab bars to different parts of the home for Ellen to reach for and maintain her balance.
“We’re working in the powder room right now, adding grab bars on both sides of the wall,” explained Lowe’s employee and International Women Build Week team lead, Tiffany Long, “We actually just noticed a light fixture that needs some sprucing up so we’re going to run back to the store and replace that while we’re here too.”
Fred says Ellen still enjoys walking on her own and these added safety handles will allow him to worry just a bit less.
“I can’t guarantee that everything is going to be alright, but i can sure make it better than it is,” Fred said.
Outside the home, the group of volunteers torn down the home’s weathered deck and plans are to construct a new one.
The women in the crew were hands on throughout the demolition and installation process. Not all knew how to handle some of the equipment, but through demonstrations and practice, they learned new skills.
Long says opportunities like this shine a spotlight on women interested in and pursuing a career in home improvement.
“It’s very empowering to be a female in this business and a female in the world today. It’s exciting, just really exciting,” Long described, “It’s almost overwhelming.”
The work and labor completed here is valued into the thousands of dollars, but for the Berney’s, the cost could be as low $25.
“It’s just something that i know we needed and i didn’t know how it was going to happen and the fact that they’re able to do it is just fantastic,” Fred said.
According to a press release, Lowe’s began partnering with Habitat for Humanity in 2013. Since then, the company has committed more than $71.1 million to support the nonprofit.