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Women work together to saw a board during a previous Habitat for Humanity of the Eastern Bighorns Women’s Build. 

SHERIDAN — While COVID-19 has changed the way a lot of businesses operate, organizers of the upcoming Women’s Build Week with Habitat for Humanity of the Eastern Bighorns are using the changes from last year’s restrictions to reinvent and evolve the event into something better.

“The event itself is changing, transforming into something bigger and better,” said Christine Dieterich, Habitat for Humanity of the Eastern Bighorns executive director.

In previous years, the national Women’s Build was usually a one-day event consisting of 50 local women working on house building all at once. Due to COVID restrictions in 2020, the event was spread out over the course of a week, with five women taking on either a morning or an evening shift.

This year, Dieterich said Habitat is expecting twice the number of volunteers, estimating around 100 with a plan to increase the number of workers per shift from five to 10. To date, this will be the largest event Habitat for Humanity has ever hosted in Sheridan.

Dieterich learned a lot from the COVID-19 restrictions to enhance what volunteers take away from the project. Productivity increased in smaller teams, as there was more time to work on projects and an easier system to organize tasks, she said.

A new aspect of the event is the addition of team sponsorships. Local businesses have an opportunity to sponsor a team of five to donate their time. Dieterich said Habitat built up a longstanding, strong volunteer base in Sheridan that includes the support of businesses taking part in the event, whether it is donating money for the fundraiser or team sponsorships. Dieterich also said the event emphasizes Sheridan’s strong philanthropic community that is always willing to help.

For the past few years, First Northern Bank of Wyoming has sponsored employees to take part in the Women’s Build event, encouraging team building and community as part of its integral values of giving back to the people of Sheridan and helping underserved populations.

“You get to work alongside fellow coworkers and colleagues to do something that’s a good cause and to help a local family,” said Amber Stones, lead branch service representative at First Northern Bank of Wyoming.

The Women’s Build Week set itself apart by filling in a niche that needs to be addressed in Sheridan, Dieterich said. The event is women-led and gives women a safe place to learn how to use construction tools and help to build a community of empowering women.

“Women are not encouraged to pick up a hammer or a saw or to build houses. This event really encourages them to do that,” said Mandy Galloway, consumer lender at First Northern Bank of Wyoming. Dieterich said she hopes the event dispels some myths surrounding women being able to use tools. Volunteers walk away learning something new and feeling empowered, Galloway said.

Women’s Build Week starts Aug. 17. Space is still available but is filling up fast. Register online at sheridanhabitat.org.

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