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The original item was published from 5/17/2017 4:43:08 PM to 5/28/2017 12:00:02 AM.

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Posted on: May 17, 2017

[ARCHIVED] Hammers swing, dreams take shape

FITCHBURG -- Not long ago the empty lot on 50 Henry St. was like a "broken tooth" among the rows of homes on the residential street.

While Habitat for Humanity of North Central Massachusetts volunteers aren't necessarily dentists -- or builders -- they are doing their part to fill the spot during National Women Build Week, an annual event sponsored by Lowe's.

The nine volunteers at the site Thursday, all members of AIM MultiSport, are among the 50 expected to participate in the weeklong event that started last Saturday, said Carolyn Read, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of North Central Massachusetts.

"Women Build Week is to highlight women and home ownership," she said. "A lot of the habitat homes are owned by single moms."

The 1,400-square-foot home under construction on Henry Street will house a family of nine -- Fitchburg couple Tao and Shoua Yang and their seven children, several who have special needs.

Once completed, the four bedroom, two bathroom home will have a basement as well as a detached garage.

"They had a very great need," she said. "Right now they're living in a three-bedroom apartment with no storage."

The family will contribute 350 hours of "sweat equity" over the course of the project, which is expected to be completed in September or October, according to Read.


A quarter of the roughly $200,000 project -- the cost of materials and a construction manager -- will be paid for by the federal HOME Investment Partnership Program funds secured by the city, according to Fitchburg Director of Housing and Development Liz Murphy, who offered the "broken tooth" image of the row of home on Henry Street.

"We're always happy to work with Habitat," she said. "They do a great job."

The city also partners with Habitat for Humanity to fund qualifying home repair projects around the city, Murphy said.

On the construction site Thursday, members of AIM MultiSport -- a group that trains for running, biking and swimming events -- worked on installing interiors walls in the home.

The group has volunteered for five years on Habitat for Humanity houses around North Central Massachusetts. Some have experience working on construction projects on their own homes.

"I'm a carpenter by hobby," said Carolyn McQueen, who has been renovating her 1690 home in Sudbury.

While others are less experienced, Patty Sullivan of Acton said.

"Some are really confident on the smart end of the machines and some are more comfortable on the dumb ends," she said laughing.

Carol Strainey, a bicyclist from Stow, said she has been involved in Habitat for Humanity projects for many years.

"This is the one day of the year I look forward to," she said.

Anyone over the age of 16 can sign up to volunteer online at

Follow Elizabeth Dobbins on Twitter @DobbinsSentinel.

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