249 women pitch in with Habitat for Humanity

By Erica Eckart

L ocal 249’s Women’s Committee and members of the CAP Committee collaborated with Habitat for Humanity to help build another house for a member of our community.

The latest recipient in the housing program is Kayla Borders is a single mother struggling to make ends meet and like many others renting in the Kansas City metro area, she was dealing with increasing rent and a landlord who refused to make any repairs.

Due to the neglect of the landlord’s responsibilities, Borders and her family were met with a completely flooded basement on more than one occasion. “I lost everything in the flood,” said Borders. “My daughter’s baby pictures, my children’s clothes. I was living paycheck to paycheck, and I knew I had to make a change.” Borders was able to break the lease, but her only choice was to move in with family members with so few affordable options available to her. That is when she learned about Habitat for Humanity of Kansas City.

“I didn’t believe the program was real. Every outlet I turned to would reject me and I was constantly being let down. I felt like nothing was working out for me.”

Borders said when she was accepted into the program, she knew God was telling her that this was her chance to build a better future for her children. Fueled by her faith and determination, she quickly started completing her 350 sweat equity hours and her hard work has not gone unnoticed.

“I’m really proud of my Mom. She’s taught me so much about being financially literate and I’m inspired by watching her” said Victor, Border’s oldest son.

After paying an unaffordable rent for an apartment infested with mice and poor plumbing, becoming a homeowner is the answered prayer Borders has been waiting for.

Border’s son wasn’t the only one inspired by their story, “ A rising tide lifts all boats,” said Camalee Hefty, a member of Local 249’s CAP committee. “This house gives this family an opportunity to enrich their lives in every way, an awesome foundation to build their dreams on. This is one of the many reasons I love being a UAW member because without this union, I wouldn’t know how to partner with so many great organizations that allow me to give back to the community.”

“I love building homes for families in need,” shared Lynn Brown, a member of the Women’s Committee. “This is a great opportunity to help another family out. I’m glad that we can all come together to work as one for a great cause. As a new member of the Women’s Committee, I’m extremely happy to be afforded this great opportunity! This is a blessing for me to be able to give back to someone in need.”

“I am happy to be a part of this women’s build partnership” says Macy Harris, member of the Women’s Committee. “I was raised in this community in this exact neighborhood and I’m honored to be a part of this. All my life, my grandmother and I would do what we could to participate in uplifting the community by donating and volunteering at food pantries and local thrift stores. I feel like I’ve come full circle with this woman’s build program and my union. I’m taking a special part in improving lives and making a difference in my community.”

“I’m blessed, so whenever I’m given an opportunity to bless someone else, I will!’’ says Stephanie Henderson, also a member of the Women’s Committee. “My husband and I are a proud union family that supports the betterment of our community every chance we get. I’m grateful for the opportunities given by the UAW and the Women’s Committee that allow me numerous chances to be a positive influence in our community and the ability to affect people’s lives in a powerful way.”

“I think it’s very exciting to be a part of this project,” stated Rakisha Thiess, member of the CAP committee. “I’ve taken part in giving someone an opportunity to be a homeowner. Working together with my union sisters and my community to make this possible is truly a blessing. The homeowner stopped by and thanked us for our contribution to the betterment of her and her family’s new journey. This gave me a sense of pride and the urge to do more. Knowing that we as a union have had a hand in impacting someone’s life in the most positive way brings so much joy to my heart.”

“I live to make a difference and I feel like if you can’t give back to something greater in life then what are you living for?” says Thiess. “We must always organize, build power and win justice for everyone and not just ourselves. I’m proud of this opportunity and I’m forever proud to be a member of Local 249!”

We would like to extend a huge thank you to the women who have given their time to help make a difference, and special thanks to Robin Taylor, chair of the Women’s Committee, for being an exceptional leader throughout this process.