The Thursday crew: Women Building Omaha One House at a Time
Affordable housing in Omaha has been helped, in part, by three women and numerous women volunteers over nearly three decades. Mona and her “girls”, Norma and Meredith, are one unstoppable team that has contributed thousands of hours to build hundreds of houses to help build a strong community.
Mona’s journey began with studying fashion design in Los Angeles. She moved to Nebraska in 1977, began volunteering at Habitat Omaha in 1985 and was later hired to do siding on homes. Believe it or not, construction and fashion design fit together like a stud to a wall frame. After being asked about her transition from fashion to construction, Mona states “it’s all math, it’s design, it’s layout and figuring out your dimensions, shape and size.”
Mona started a construction company and started the Construction Academy at Omaha Public Schools before leaving her company in 2009 to pursue a different opportunity where she was approached to run the Habitat Omaha Women Build.
Mona ran the Women Build for a few years before she was approached again. This time a site supervisor wanted her to apply for the role of senior rehabilitation site supervisor. At the time, Mona was unsure about the opportunity but her friend, Norma, encouraged her to apply. Mona then started working full time with Habitat Omaha and still runs the annual Women Build with Norma by her side.
Norma enjoyed construction from a young age, when she began learning from her father. After many years of building with him, she pursued construction as a hobby. Longtime volunteer, invited Norma to join the first Women Build project where she met Mona and discovered she enjoyed working with other like-minded women and using her hands for good.
Norma is now retired but continues to volunteer at Habitat Omaha every week because of her fondness for learning and ability to teach other women valuable skills in which they can see their progress.
Norma added, “Visual satisfaction at the end of the day is what really gives people the impetus to come back to work.”
Since the first Women Build in 1997, Mona and Norma have dedicated years to the organization. They have participated in Jimmy Carter Builds and traveled globally with Habitat for Humanity. Norma and Mona have been committed to serving the world, and their community, one house at a time.
Meredith has volunteered with Habitat Omaha since 2019. she learned how to use tools and fix things from her father; her parents are active volunteers at a Habitat for Humanity in Minnesota. She was invited by a friend to volunteer at the Habitat Omaha Women Build, she realized she liked building houses with Mona and Norma, and has since continued to volunteer with Habitat Omaha.
On Meredith’s first job, Mona assigned her the task of destroying a cast-iron tub with a sledgehammer. This was extremely labor-intensive, but, Meredith reflected, “You could see what you were doing, you could see progress.”
Those who want to see the Thursday team in action should consider volunteering at the annual Women Build. No construction experience is necessary, the ladies will show you what to do. The weekly build has begun, but we are having an official kickoff celebration. Join us for the Women Build Kickoff on March 21, 2023. For more information, or to RSVP, Click Here. For more information about volunteering for the Women Build, visit habitatomaha.org/volunteernow. If you are unable to volunteer, consider donating to help support our mission at habitatomaha.org/donate