A Passion for Giving

Despite the demands of the current economy, corporate executives are finding the timeand the valuein philanthropic efforts

Hattie Matthews, Lowe’s

Providing a foundation for success

“I’ve always felt it’s an absolute honor and privilege to be able to participate in helping to build someone’s dream,” beams Hattie Matthews, store manager for the home improvement company Lowe’s in Buckeye, Arizona. Four years ago, Matthews, who prior to her retail employment was a finish carpenter and licensed builder (a trade she learned in her family’s construction business starting at age 5), volunteered as an instructor with Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build program, a faction of the shelter relief organization that helps women develop the skills needed to participate on a Habitat worksite. It was an opening she pursued through Lowe’s corporate partnership with the charitable group. Since then she has participated in building 20 homes in Phoenix; Detroit; and Benton Harbor, Michigan.

Matthews often teaches basic construction skills at weekly Women Build clinics to help women overcome feelings of intimidation on the worksite. She believes what women learn from the clinics is not only beneficial for completing tasks on Habitat worksites, but also helpful as they manage challenges in their lives. For instance, one single mother wanted to learn construction skills to repair her home. When the project was finished, the young woman, overwhelmed with emotion, looked at Matthews and cried; she never thought she would be able to complete a task like building a house. “You don’t realize what an impact [this] has on someone’s life,” says Matthews.

This  year, the mother of six will participate in Habitat’s 2nd Annual National Women Build Week taking place May 2-10, a nationwide celebration of more than 6,000 women volunteers. Matthews continues to marvel at how a project that begins with nothing more than slab can transform a life seven days later. She explains, “When you participate with Habitat, you always get back way more than you give and people are often surprised by that.”

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