On what ended up being a beautiful Saturday, over 360 volunteers looked past the warnings of rain and thunderstorms to build homes for veterans. This event, the annual Women’s Empowerment (WE) Build, is Homes 4 Families’ largest volunteering event, celebrating female veterans and women in nontraditional roles. This was the nonprofit organization’s eleventh annual WE Build, and first ever in the Antelope Valley. Women and men helped build the Palmdale Veteran Enriched Neighborhood®, which is a 56-home community for low-income veterans.
Volunteers and sponsors raised over $75,000 and completed over $62,000 worth of construction work, totaling over $137,000. Work included building the property’s perimeter block wall, building a fence around what will become the children’s play area, and preparing art materials for Homes 4 Families’ My TIME (My Trauma-Informed Military Enrichment) workshops. These funds are critical in keeping these homes affordable for low-income veterans who will soon own them.
The co-chairs of this event were Lily Knight, a neonatal nurse at Antelope Valley Hospital and wife of former Congressman Steve Knight; and Rose Rockey, CFO of Progression Drywall Corp. and Homes 4 Families Board member. Also volunteering were Palmdale City Mayor Steven Hofbauer and his group of Handy Helpers, Palmdale City Councilmember Laura Bettencourt, Deputy District Director for Congresswoman Katie Hill Andrea Rosenthal and her team, and District Director for Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger Donna Termeer. Also in attendance were State Senator Scott Wilk, Assemblymember Tom Lackey, District Director for Assemblyman Lackey Vanessa Wilk, and former Congressman Steve Knight.
In her welcome to the standing-room-only group of volunteers, Homes 4 Families CEO Donna Deutchman said “I am overwhelmed by the number of people here today and by the spirit. I have been overwhelmed since my first meeting in Palmdale by the spirit of the City of Palmdale and in the Antelope Valley in general and by the love of this community. And I am going to be so grateful for what you do today for the love of our veterans.”
Donna Termeer, speaking on behalf of Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, said “this is a project that she is very passionate about and proud to support. Some people may say that it’s just 56 homes in addressing the issue of homelessness, but it’s 56 homes that are housing people that need our respect and deserve these homes.”
“Take a look around here. When we put out the call for some help in the Antelope Valley, AV and Palmdale comes out!” said Palmdale City Mayor Steve Hofbauer.
Lou Gonzales of Antelope Valley Chevrolet, Army Veteran and longtime supporter of the project, thanked his community and his fellow veterans. “Thank you to all the volunteers who will help build this great community that will forever be in Joyce and my heart. We love giving back to this community because we wouldn’t have what we have without the Antelope Valley. And not to say the least but, thank you to all of our veterans who are here today, our veterans who have sacrificed so much, and to those veterans who will live here with their families and grow their families here.”
KMIX 106.3 FM provided entertainment for the morning by broadcasting live at the event from 10am – 12pm. This was generously provided by Key Founding Sponsor, High Desert Broadcasting.
Project partners included the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) and the City of Palmdale. Event sponsors included Lockheed Martin, California Compaction Corporation, and Antelope Valley Chevrolet. Lunch Sponsors included California Compaction Corporation and Jersey Mikes. Breakfast Sponsors included Jeff & Karen Brown and Starbucks. Hard Hat Sponsor was Antelope Valley Hospital. Pink Hammer Sponsor was Precision Dynamics Corporation (PDC). Friend of Women Warrior Sponsor was Engineering Research and Consulting, Inc. (ERC). Women Warriors Sponsors included Palmdale Regional Medical Center, Mission Bank, Progression Drywall, Legacy Construction and Development, California Bank & Trust, University of Antelope Valley, Jeff & Karen Brown, Mayor Hof’s Handy Helpers, Rose Rockey, and the Knight Family. In-Kind Sponsors included Mechanix Wear, Andy Gump, Waste Management, Duct Testers, Gothic, Balloon Factory, and Edwards Air Force Base.