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‘Women Build Day’ brings new homes to Santa Cruz’s Live Oak Neighborhood

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Back row left to right: Allyson Stengl, Carrie Birkhofer, Megan Rhodes, Trisha Lee, Jessika Wilson, Lauren Walker. Front row left to right: Alicia Flores, Erin Davidson, Nicole Beaver, Patty Winters, Blanca Arteaga, and Amy Ivey.
(Bay Federal Credit Union)

A group of women from Bay Federal Credit Union recently took to hammers and sanders, constructing new homes in one Live Oak neighborhood.

Bay Federal Credit Union and their community partner, Habitat for Humanity of Monterey Bay, participated in a Women Build Day during Habitat for Humanity’s month-long women empowerment initiative.

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Allyson Stengl, VP, Consumer and Business Lending and Jessika Wilson, AVP, Human Resources.
(Bay Federal Credit Union)

The event involves encouraging local businesses and community members to work together, uplifting women’s roles in the construction industry. Volunteers with the Credit Union were given opportunities to learn floor and drywall installation, sand unfinished wood, and prepare for a concrete foundation; no lack of experience or sight of rain was stopping this project from completion.

“I am always so pleasantly surprised by the trust the Habitat team instills in their volunteers,” said Megan Rhodes, SVP and Chief Lending Officer at Bay Federal. “We were split up into groups, taught how to do our tasks, and put straight to work. It was rewarding to see our team members play a significant role in building this home.”

Ms. Rhodes, fueled by a passion for affordable housing, serves on the Habitat for Humanity Monterey Bay Finance Committee alongside Bay Federal’s David Torres, Home Loan Sales Manager, who also serves on the organization’s Board of Directors. Often volunteering themselves, Ms. Rhodes was present at the build site in Live Oak lending her hand.

Without the help of dedicated volunteers like Bay Federal and events like Women Build, none of this would have ever been possible for my family.

— Jona, a future Habitat for Humanity homeowner

The homes Bay Federal volunteers worked on last month will soon house three well-deserving families, providing them with ownership of a home they can afford in a challenging housing market. In fact, homeowners work alongside the volunteers allowing them to hear firsthand the stories of how Habitat for Humanity and Bay Federal have supported them through the journey.

“It was so much fun working with Bay Federal Credit Union during Women Build. I cannot express how grateful I am for Habitat for Humanity Monterey Bay,” said Jona, a future Habitat for Humanity homeowner. “Without the help of dedicated volunteers like Bay Federal and events like Women Build, none of this would have ever been possible for my family.”

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A welcome home note Bay Federal employees left hidden for the future homeowners.
(Bay Federal Credit Union)

In addition to the volunteer construction support, the Credit Union provides recipients of these homes a unique financial opportunity for homeownership with a 30-year mortgage program at a reduced rate, below their already competitive rates on all mortgage products. Accompanying the home financing program, Bay Federal hosts an annual invitation-only mixer called Sip for Humanity.

While monetary donations made to the organization are inherently necessary for the purchase of tools and materials, the organization encourages volunteering time and skills. Local volunteers interested in helping the organization do not have to be part of a group build since Habitat for Humanity offers individual volunteers short and long-term opportunities.

Those interested in volunteering can sign up for shifts through a schedule on their website; options are available at the construction site, in their ReStore, behind the scenes in their business office, and at community events. Habitat for Humanity also encourages the community to shop their ReStore locations in Watsonville and Seaside.

About Bay Federal Credit Union

Bay Federal Credit Union is a full-service, not-for-profit financial institution that serves over 86,000 members and 2,400 local businesses throughout Santa Cruz, San Benito, and Monterey counties. With more than $1.6 billion in assets, Bay Federal is the largest member-owned financial institution in the region. The organization has been proudly serving its members and the community since 1957. Bay Federal is a certified Community Development Financial Institution, with a primary mission of promoting community development alongside their financial activities. Bay Federal has an award-winning employee volunteer program in which employees have given their own money and volunteer for numerous local schools, nonprofit organizations, and community events each year.