An Empowering Women’s Build with Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley

An Empowering Women's Build with Habitat for Humanity

Staying true to Barclay’s core values, Simpson Strong-Tie gives back to local communities where its employees live and work. One example is our partnership with Habitat for Humanity. Find out how some of our employees felt after participating in a recent Women’s Leadership Build.

I was always aware that Simpson Strong-Tie’s Company Values were inspired by the Nine Principles of Business articulated by our founder, Barc Simpson. Value #8 directs us to “Give Back” to our communities, however small or large. As Barc put it, “Look for small ways to give back every day. Help out your neighbor, make time for others, do what you can.

Simpson Strong-Tie Employees at the Women's Build
Simpson Strong-Tie Employees at the Women’s Build

One way the company tries to honor this value is through our partnership with Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit organization that helps people in communities around the world build or improve a place they can call home. I was more than eager to volunteer for my first Habitat for Humanity build when the opportunity arose. I must confess, though, that I did briefly worry whether my nonexistent construction background might be more of a hindrance than help. Luckily my worries quickly faded after arriving at the construction site. Not only was everyone warm and welcoming, but everyone exuded a positive attitude, excited to have so many eager  volunteers to help turn this construction site into a community.

Habitat for Humanity Women's Leadership Build 2022
Habitat for Humanity Women’s Leadership Build 2022

This project was special because it was the first build in the East Bay in six years, due to Covid and many other delays. It was empowering because this was a women’s leadership build part of a long Habitat tradition. From the first women-built home in Charlotte over 30 years ago, to the many local women-led events they have held since 2008, Habitat aims to honor the women’s leadership potential in the affordable housing movement.

Esperanza Place Ariel View
Esperanza Place Ariel View

The name of the new community in development is Esperanza Place, in Walnut Creek, California. Esperanza, meaning hope in Spanish, is a fitting name for bringing homeownership within reach of families priced out of the opportunity. Even more amazing is that this build is a Zero Net Energy development — meaning that Esperanza Place will produce more energy than it will consume. Whole-systems design goes from solar panels down to thermal mass solid concrete foundations; from energy-efficient appliances out to EV charging stations.

Habitat for Humanity Women's Build 2022
Habitat for Humanity Women’s Build 2022

A total of forty-two townhouses will rise from their foundations, surrounding a space where neighbors will someday gather. Trees will shade walking paths, a sport court, parking spaces, and bicycle storage. The location is central for new homeowners, steps from BART, close to seventeen bus lines, and nestled alongside the Iron Horse Trail — offering easy access to jobs, shopping, recreation, and more via public transit. 

Elain from Habitat for Humanity
Elain from Habitat for Humanity

It was heartwarming to see so many different companies and individuals stepping up to help make these Habitat homes a reality. Before we started, Elain, a former Habitat for Humanity home recipient shared her story. Her house was built 11 years ago, also through a Women’s Leadership build. She and her family were touched that the volunteers in her community put in 500 hours to help her family afford a home. Making our event even more special was the fact that Elain brought her daughter (who was five at the time of her own home build) to participate in our build.

My Simpson Strong-Tie coworkers who braved the heat with me also had a few words to say about their experience on the build:

L to R: Annie Kao, Brianna Lowery, Cecilia Salas
L to R: Annie Kao, Brianna Lowery, Cecilia Salas

“It was great to be a part of something that will impact generations to come.”  — Brianna Lowery, Talent Acquisition Specialist

At Habitat for Humanity Woman's Build
At Habitat for Humanity Woman’s Build

“I love that volunteering for Habitat for Humanity is something we not only get to do as Simpson Strong-Tie employees, but that we’re encouraged to do. To be part of the annual Women’s Leadership Build  — showing our strength in numbers  — brings me so much joy. Spending the day alongside my colleagues on an actual jobsite, lifting floor joists into place and securing them with our Simpson Strong-Tie parts was beyond gratifying. I didn’t even care how hot and sweaty I got in the 100-degree temps that day! Simpson’s “Give Back” company value is one of the first things that attracted me to the company almost nine years ago. And to be able to regularly live that value as part of my job is one of the reasons I still feel so lucky to work here.”  — Elizabeth Rajs, Product Marketing Manager

L to R: Mallory Pirogovsky, Annie Kao, Shelby Short
L to R: Mallory Pirogovsky, Annie Kao, Shelby Short

“Beyond it being fun to see my coworkers outside the office, and how awesome it was to support a fantastic organization, the build was such a great place to see so many women building! I love getting to see the construction process up close and personal and getting to learn something I didn’t know when the day started.”  — Mallory Pirogovsky, Director of Operational Excellence

“The Habitat for Humanity Women’s Build was a rewarding and fun experience with some of my female colleagues! The location of this build was within my community, and it brings me joy knowing that I contributed to positive change for a local family. Our project assignment was helping frame a townhouse and it was exciting to see our products in use and to get the opportunity to install our connectors first-hand! All Habitat employees were friendly and energetic, making it a great experience overall. I look forward to participating in a future build with Habitat!” — Jenny Moreno, Packaging Project Manager

Selfi on the Jobsite
Selfi on the Jobsite

“Volunteering with Simpson Strong-Tie Habitat for Humanity’s Women’s Leadership Build was a unique and invaluable experience. An overwhelming sense of pride washed over me as I looked out onto a surreal sea of predominantly women while building homes for Habitat for Humanity in our community last week. The build day was led by skilled and vibrant women, and I walked away with knowledge that I will carry forward in my career and personal projects.  

“Although I have carpentry as well as architecture drafting experience, I had never built framing for a house before. We framed second-story walls, and we worked with precut and premarked bottom and top plates, and 2×4 and 2×6 studs, practiced flush framing, and hammered sixteen penny galvanized nails all day. We were in the belly of the beast.  

“The day was a culmination of my passions for architecture, accessible housing, DIY, construction, sustainability, working on teams, lifting each other up, giving back, enabling growth, empowering women and working to be the change this world needs. Not to mention, it was a blast! 

“I will be continuing to build with Habitat as a volunteer.”  — Natalia Saarela, PL Drafter 

I think everyone involved would agree with me that we felt good about what we learned and accomplished, and it was a lot of fun doing it together!