Habitat for Humanity 'Women Build' project making home for family with 5 girls

15 women from Mortenson Construction are helping a Somali-American family make a new home.

- Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity helps people in need build their own houses, but did you know about twice a year, volunteers do a Women Build project? In St. Paul, 15 women from Mortenson Construction are helping a Somali-American couple and their 5 daughters make a new home.

“It’s my family's dream to have their own home one day, and this is really a dream come,” said Abdikani Ali.

“I think it's really important to empower women to help them see what types of skills they can develop, and of course, it is really impactful in a powerful way when you meet the family that's going to buy this home,” said Twin Cities Habitat CEO Susan Haigh.

Mortenson’s Kelly Mansell is overseeing the interior finishing work. She says what you see here is a sign of a changing workforce.

“It's continuing to grow. In our own office in Minneapolis we have a lot more women in our engineering positions as well as our craft workforce than we have in the past,” Mansell said. “We continue, as we have interns and other people coming out of college, we get a very good mix. I think last year we actually had more females than males that started. When I started I was the only female -- it’s pretty exciting to see. The workforce is changing."

Michelle is normally pushing paper as an executive assistant at Mortenson, but on this day she was cutting shelves for a closet. Vicki is a carpenter for Mortenson, currently pouring concrete on a project at Hennepin County Medical Center. But on the Habitat site, she installed laminate flooring for the first time.

“It makes you feel good to know you're doing a good thing for someone who is going to really appreciate it,” Vicki said.

For Emily, the Habitat house is a much smaller scale than her current work – the Target Center renovation.

We may not know the full scale or scope of this project for many years, until Abdikani’s 5 daughters grow up.

"My girls see that they can do everything they want to do,” Abdikani said. “We can build a dream. They say when we move in, we can make our own rooms.”


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