Celina Stude is our new 2021 Women Build Committee Chair here at Habitat Tucson! Congratulations Celina!
The sound of hundreds of hammers pounding in the early morning light. The raising of walls as the DJ cranks the music up. The beads of sweat wiped away with a shirt sleeve. The dance breaks and selfie station. The cool water and hot coffee. The houses coming together, piece by piece.
One of Celina Stude’s favorite memories of Women Build is the 2020 Women Build event in early March. It was one of the last celebrations she was able to participate in before we began sheltering in place. “Between the dancing and building and seeing new faces, it was a really good day,” she remembers.
Then everything changed when the pandemic hit. What started as a two-week lockdown in mid-March turned into almost a full year of quarantining, social distancing, remote learning, working-from-home. Suddenly the home because the office, the classroom, the daycare center, the gym. COVID-19 has forced everyone to deeply consider the fundamental importance of home–of having safe, decent, and affordable shelter.
As a Mortgage Loan Originator at Sunstreet Mortgage, Celina understands the affordable housing crisis better than most.
Women Build 2020: Right before the pandemic hit, Celina encouraged women to come out and build at the 2020 Women Build event.
“The reality is, yes, affordable housing is a struggle,” says Celina. “I see it firsthand. If you’re a minimum wage earner, even if there’s two in the family, it’s tough to find what you need. If they have debt or an auto expense, or a single mother trying to buy a home on $12 an hour, it’s significantly much harder.”
Celina first came to Habitat Tucson as an intern in the Homeowner Services department while earning her Sociology degree at the University of Arizona. After graduating in 2017, she returned to Habitat Tucson as a volunteer and found her true passion in the Women Build community. When she heard there was a Habitat build that not only built homes but helped empower women, she was hooked!
“Women Build is about empowering women, equitable housing, and contributing our time to the community,” Celina says. “I know that feeling of, oh my gosh, I didn’t think I could do that. When I went back to school, I had 2 kids, I was working a full time job, taking 22 hours of coursework, doing an internship. It was a big deal, a big accomplishment! I felt very empowered to feel like I can do this! I just needed a support system.”
Women Build is that support system. For so many single mothers, domestic abuse survivors, or women fighting the gender wage inequality, affordable homeownership feels far out of reach.
With the coronavirus pandemic, the struggle has only been amplified. Over 140,000 jobs were lost across the United States in December alone. All of them were held by women.
“During COVID, the home has been where you do the workouts, the childcare, the schooling, all of it,” says Celina. “Everybody in some shape or form is struggling with something. But with a support system, you’re not alone. And you can accomplish so much more!”
Women Build is all about building safe, affordable homes while empowering women–the women homebuyers, the women builders and volunteers, the women in our incredible Tucson community. Habitat Tucson’s mission is to make the world a more just and compassionate place, and we believe that justice and compassion starts at home. As the new 2021 Women Build Committee Chair, Celina looks forward to putting that mission into action.
Even though the Women Build 2021 celebration will look very different from the 2020 event, Celina knows that this is a chance to cultivate creative ways to empower women. Her goal this year is to help raise $90,000 needed to build the new Women Build house.
“Whatever you can give helps,” Celina says. “Even if $25, $30, it doesn’t matter. There is no gift too small. The more we can work together, the more we can contribute to a home for a new family.”