Women rebuild and renew Snoqualmie Ridge's Habitat for Humanity neighborhood | Photo Gallery

Erin Riley helps Mary Burris with the task of cutting out the floor of a Snoqualmie home, being remodeled for a new Habitat for Humanity family. The volunteers worked Thursday, May 8, for National Women Build Week. - Carol Ladwig/Staff Photo
Erin Riley helps Mary Burris with the task of cutting out the floor of a Snoqualmie home, being remodeled for a new Habitat for Humanity family. The volunteers worked Thursday, May 8, for National Women Build Week.
— image credit: Carol Ladwig/Staff Photo

Bright colors ruled in the last house in the row on Snoqualmie Ridge. At least they had that morning, before a crew of volunteers arrived to repaint the interior of the house, future home to a new family in the Habitat for Humanity program. By early afternoon, the blue, purple and blood-red walls upstairs had all gotten at least one coat of white paint, leaving the pink T-shirts and matching safety glasses of the work crews as the brightest things in the house.

“Who thought of that?” wondered Kami Bratton, spokesperson for Habitat for Humanity. “They are just the perfect touch!”

Both fashionable and functional, the glasses were also required equipment for the 50-some women renovating four houses off Orchard Drive during National Women Build Week, May 3 to 11.

The local event enlisted women and women’s groups to help renovate the homes, vacated over the past year and sold back to Habitat for Humanity, for new owners in the Habitat “recycling” program.

“Rather than building a new house, they can buy an existing home,” explained Bratton, “So what we do here is make sure that it’s all in good repair, and it feels like a brand new house.”

New owners get to start with a blank slate, she explained, so everything old must go, down to the colors, appliances, and flooring. Hence, the safety glasses.

Mary Burris needed them — and earplugs — as she sawed through the plywood flooring in a mudroom. Her fellow Women Business Owners club members, volunteering for the day, kept them on as they pried up trim and flooring in the recently-vacated house, too.

Kerry Rowan, a spin instructor at the Bellevue YMCA, sported the glasses and a mask as, high on a ladder, she painted along the ceiling of the house of bright rooms. Many of her spin class were also part of the event.

“Because my husband works for Habitat, we were talking about it in class,” said Kelly Utzinger, who organized the spin class group. “Everybody wanted to do it… I had 10 slots and 14 people!”

Some of the slots were taken by hard-working energetic grandmothers, Utzinger pointed out, but she knew they were all hard-workers.

“I’m pretty sure that they will be back in spinning class tomorrow,” she said. “I will not — Friday’s my day to run!”

Women Business Owner Micheline Palmer was doing the same things during her volunteer stint Thursday that she normally did on the job, since she owns a painting company.

Looking over the impressive progress in the house where she’d been painting since about 8:30 a.m., she sighed and said, “People have no idea how long painting takes.”

For her part, Rowan had been enlightened. She pointed out the various colors of the rooms, and the narrow hallway where they all intersected and said “I have a whole new appreciation for painting,” she said. “And we had to sand it all first!”

Renovations on the Snoqualmie Ridge houses went through Friday, but Women Build Week continued through Saturday, when another group of volunteers worked at Rainier Vista.

Habitat for Humanity of Seattle-King County builds and maintains homes throughout the year in partnership with Americorps volunteers. Special events like Women Build Week, now in its sixth year, are sponsored by Lowe’s, which donated $1.75 million to support this year’s National Women Build Week.

The 50 homes of the Koinonia Ridge neighborhood were built from 2002 to 2010. The first 20 were built in a two-week “building blitz in 2002, with an average of 600 volunteers on site each day and sponsorship from Weyerhauser, Champion Metal and Washington State Flooring. The remaining homes were completed by 2010, with support from the city of Snoqualmie, and Weyerhauser.

Of the more than 350 homes that Habitat Seattle-King County has built, renovated or repaired, 20 families have taken their accumulated equity and moved on to other opportunities. Eight of those families lived in Koinonia Ridge.

Learn more about Habitat for Humanity’s local efforts at

Volunteers from Women Business Owners and a YMCA spinning class turned out Thursday to renovate four homes on Snoqualmie Ridge as part of National Women Build Week. Courtesy photo.

Mary Burris, a member of Women Business Owners, wields a circle saw to cut down to the sub-floor of a house she's renovating for Habitat for Humanity. The home will get all new flooring and finishes, for the next family to move into the Koininia Ridge neighborhood on Snoqualmie Ridge.

Joann Wadge, undaunted by a steady drizzle, paints the exterior of a soon-to-be "recycled" Habitat for Humanity house.

Kerry Rowan cuts in a new paint color along the ceiling, volunteering with many of her spin class members for a day of construction on Snoqualmie Ridge.

Americorps volunteer Erin Mathre, retouches paint in a stairwell, part of her work leading volunteer teams to renovate Habitat for Humanity homes for new owners. She was part of the 50-some women who volunteered for Habitat during National Women Build Week.

Micheline Palmer, owner of a painting business, models the pink safety glasses provided for volunteers in National Women Build Week, helping to renovate four homes on Snoqualmie Ridge last week.

Upstairs and down, women volunteers are busy cleaning up a Snoqualmie Ridge home for its future owners, during National Women Build Week.

Silvia Peterson and Arden Clise, both board members of Women Business Owners, work together to remove some floor trim from a home in Snoqualmie Ridge, part of National Women Build Week.


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