When we gather – even virtually – for the Women’s Leadership Build, we build for families. We build for our community. We build for the experience. We build to connect with each other. And as women, we build also for those who are watching us.

JenniferJohnson_2018-16-1When we come together as women to create change, we model that spirit of empowerment and service for the girls who look up to us. Over 20 years ago, Jennifer Johnson was that girl.

Jennifer was in high school when her family purchased their Habitat home in Antioch. Just old enough to pitch in on her family’s sweat equity, Jennifer recalls that time on the construction site as “some of the best memories I have.” She vividly remembers all the volunteers who helped build their home, from “digging the first hole in the ground” to “putting up the last wall,” and everything else. What really stood out for teenaged Jennifer, though, was that she worked alongside Habitat’s Women’s Crew.


Jennifer and her three siblings were raised by a single father, which she says “was not always easy.” However, Jennifer remembers, “My father made sure that my sister and I knew that we could do whatever a man could do if that’s what we really wanted to do, as long as we worked hard and put our minds up to the challenge.” It was an idea Jennifer had always believed in, but she says, “The experience of seeing women volunteer and do construction work made me believe even more of what my father instilled in me.”

Their Habitat home was the realization of a dream for their father, of course – who just a few years ago mailed in the very last of his mortgage payments – but also for young Jennifer. As a high schooler, she loved woodshop and art classes, and always dreamed she would build a house one day. “Who knew at that time,” she says, “that I would actually get to help build a house, and not just any house – my family’s house.”

Knowing that the Women’s Crew is still going strong over 20 years later, Jennifer says, “brings me joy and excitement. These women are role models for other young ladies who will be inspired by them, much like I was.” And as for Habitat’s annual build to celebrate the role of women in leading change – Jennifer says, “The Women’s Leadership Build is wonderful. This not only shows young ladies that they can work in the construction field, it also shows them that women can be in leadership roles as well. This will give young ladies more confidence and self-esteem.”

So, when you participate in the Women’s Leadership Build, or swing a hammer with the Women’s Crew, or network with other women through the Women’s Leadership Council – or exercise your power in any way through Habitat – think not just of the change you’ll make for families and communities. Think of the girls who are watching.





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