On Friday night, three local bands will play The Low Beat to promote women empowerment and community building with volunteers from the Center for Women in Government and Civil Society at U Albany’s Rockefeller Institute.
This Memorial Day weekend, volunteers will head down to New Orleans to participate in the city’s Habitat for Humanity: Women Build program, building housing for two women (a pair of cousins) in the Lousiana city.
“It’s meant to empower women who are having the housing built for them, but also the women who are doing the building themselves,” says Liz Helmer, the Center’s public policy fellowship member.
The program’s ethos, she adds, is similar to that of the fellowship program: “Empowering women and preparing them for public service. While there are a ton of opportunities for women in the workplace now, there’s still a really serious issue with women in leadership roles in every walk of life. Even some of the most female-dominated industries and departments, for example HR, still have men at the top.”
When it came time to plan for the program’s annual networking trip to Washington D.C., the members wanted to plan a little differently. The southern United States and Puerto Rico had just been ravaged by hurricanes and the team opted to include a public service element to their travel plans.
Originally, they planned to head down to Puerto Rico, where residents are still suffering from the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. At the time of their planning period however, the instability and massive amounts of damage on the island put the group in over their heads. “It was right after the hurricane and had proven to be too difficult, which is too bad because at this point I think they really, really, need us,” Helmer says.
They pitched a few more cities and landed on New Orleans where the Women Build program is in the middle of an “accelerated build” project through June 2, consisting of two home constructions led, managed and staffed by women, for women.
“While New Orleans is this vibrant and beautiful city, it also has this really serious issue of poverty, like a lot of cities,” Helmer says. “We wanted to get a sense of what that community looks like and what organizations in the city are working to improve it. Instead of just coming in to observe we wanted to give back. A lot of the program is aimed at community building.”
Before heading down south, Helmer and the team will be throwing one last fundraising hurrah at The Low Beat in Albany featuring headliners Hate Club and NYC-based Ariah &–who will be performing a lush, solo acoustic set–as well as Albany’s new basement rock band Odd Cadre. It’s 10 bucks at the door but 100 percent of the proceeds will go to the Women Build program. There will also be an onsite raffle giveaway of gift cards for The Book House and Malcolm’s, the new farm to table restaurant in Schenectady, for those looking to win a last minute Mother’s Day gift.
The group has already raise $1,000 for the program and will continue to do Habitat for Humanity fundraising after they return from the build, Helmer said.
The Habitat Benefit Concert at The Low Beat in Albany kicks off Friday, May 11 at 7:30 PM, music starts at 8:30 PM. Those who cannot make the show but would still like to contribute to the cause can visit the build website and donate to Team “Fellows”.