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Minnesota National Guard
Woman's Veterans Initiative Shows Major Muscle with Habitat for Humanity Build

WVI H4H ST. PAUL, Minn. - The Minnesota Women Veterans Initiative (WVI), a group orientated toward networking Minnesota women military members and veterans brought 16 service(wo)men from all services, ages and backgrounds together, November 12, to assist in a Habitat for Humanity build. Eleven of the 16 women are current or former Minnesota National Guardsmen.

"We started celebrating Veterans Day this way in 2008 with Habitat for Humanity and enjoy coming back each year to build," said Trista Matascastillo, program officer for Veterans Voices and chairman for the WVI. "We learn new skills, build our own confidence and make new friends. There are 27,000-plus women vets in Minnesota and so often we hear that women veterans feel isolated and alone and having events like this is just another way to bring us out and together."

The group started in the morning with a brief on the tasks for the day and quickly got to work, going above and beyond by organizing the work-site and making sure there was a high attention to detail.

"I thought the Women Veterans Initiative Habitat for Humanity build was great!," said former Airman Jessica de Kozlowski, "I was so happy there were so many people who showed up and everyone worked hard with zero complaining. I wish I could do it more often, plus it's great to learn what all goes into building a house."

The day was chilly with a high of 45 degrees and gusty winds. That did not detour anyone from climbing up on scaffolding two stories high and getting the siding cut and hammered in by hand.

"The day is an amazing opportunity for women veterans from around Minnesota to come together in sisterhood and just another example of one of the many ways we are still serving," said Matascastillo. "We love to have any reason to connect with each other and be productive at the same time. We have the time to talk and connect and make new connections while making meaningful impact on our communities."

For the entire day, there were a few site supervisors from the Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity organization. They were there to check, monitor and encourage all the women on the site for the day.

"Working with the WVI was a wonderful experience for me, I have never been called 'Sir' so many time in my life," said Bryn Chambers, Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity Site Supervisor. "The women were very motivated, my head was spinning trying to find things for them to do all day, as soon as they completed one task they were right there ready to take on the next task, it was very appreciated."

The women were able to help correct minor issues on the home, prep for the pouring of concrete in the basement, find missing tools, organize a tool shed and unload of a truck full of supplies for future groups.

"Their dedication to not only getting the job done, but getting it done correctly and with a high level of quality speaks very highly of their group. I hope that the next time they decide to come out I am lucky enough to get them again because I had one of the most enjoyable build days I have had in a long time with the women of WVI," said Chambers.

November 25, 2015
by Tech. Sgt. Lynette Olivares
133rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

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