The sounds of power drills pierced the air of Pond Park Road outside Kilmarnock as 20 volunteers set to work constructing a house as part of the Women Survivor Build, sponsored by the Lancaster/Northumberland affiliate of Habitat for Humanity and the Virginia Women’s Center.
The volunteers consisted of cancer survivors, friends and family of Candice Davenport, the home recipient, and individuals who lost loved ones to cancer. The event encouraged the volunteers affected by cancer to display their dedication and commitment to conquering the disease.
Although the event’s focus was on women, 12 men came out to show their support. Habitat board vice president Nan Flynn said she was “pleasantly amazed” by the volunteers’ hard work, while Habitat office manager Vickie Hinson, a cancer survivor herself, could not believe how skilled and dedicated the assembled group was in performing the various constructed duties.
“It’s great to see so many different people working together,” Hinson said. “It’s a positive and upbeat experience for everyone involved.”
After the volunteers introduced themselves to each other through a circle-up icebreaker that allowed individuals to share their reasons for attending the build and come together with a similar goal, they immediately shifted to their assigned locations.
While Flynn oversaw the sorting of materials from the trailer on the site and Davenport managed the installation of insulation in the house’s interior, the rest of the group focused on setting up the railing systems on the front porch, attaching gutters to the roof, and constructing a deck, which one volunteer likened to a “dance floor” because of its size, behind the house.
The individuals who were new to house building worked closely with experienced mentors on the site, with the assignments for each task complementing their skill sets and comfort level.
“You don’t have to be a skilled tradesperson to be a part of this project,” Flynn said, as she focused mainly on the low-maintenance but highly needed task of sorting tools, while others, both novice and experienced, worked with an arrangement of powerful tools from drills to electric saws.
The event began at 9 a.m. with Flynn originally scheduling a “winding down” period at 11:30 a.m., but the volunteers never relented and continued to work until noon, when Flynn asked them to sign the name of a loved one who had been affected by cancer on a board of Davenport’s choosing.
Hinson felt that the volunteers’ commitment to the project matched the statement she wished to make with the survivor build.
“We want to show everyone that we’re strong and resolute in not letting cancer stop us from living our lives the way we want to,” Hinson stated. “Participating in Women Survivor Build is a great way for us to leave a tangible monument to our determination and courage.”