Women Build Profile: Motherless Daughters
For Allison Durant and a small group of women, Women Build proved to be the perfect way to celebrate Mother’s Day. Each year, Allison’s group Motherless Daughters holds a luncheon for those who have lost their mothers at a young age. This year, they decided to do something different.
“It’s exciting to be able to do an all-woman build for a single mother who’s trying to make a better life for her family,” said Allison, “which is always inspiring because a lot of us grew up without… some of the people in my group lost their mother at a very very young age and have not a lot of memory, and then like myself personally I lost my mother at 18, and then some people lost their mother as recently as 2 years ago. And it’s always just that special person, no matter what age, that leaves kind of a void. So it’s really great to be able to help somebody who’s trying to make a better home and give her kids whatever opportunity she can.”
At the build, Allison’s three daughters, Addie, Lindsey, and Field joined her on site to volunteer for the day.
“She wanted us to come out and do Motherless Daughters. It was kind of, ugh, 7 a.m., really?” said Lindsey. “But it’s really awesome, and it’s cool that she put it together. And it’s really good to because, [Allison is] doing it because she’s missing her mom, but we have her here. So I really appreciate having her around to make us come out and do this stuff. Even though it wasn’t the funnest thing to wake up early, it’s nice to be able to say my mom made me do it, and to have you around still.”
Between being in a new part of the city and working on a home for a single mother at an all-woman build, they have gained new perspectives.
“I don’t think they’ve ever even been to this part of New Orleans,” said Allison. “They’ve driven through, maybe. It’s sort of like parts of New Orleans that we’re not even familiar with, you know. We don’t really come this way very much for anything. So it’s sort of interesting. And I love that it’s all women.”
“I think it’s awesome,” said Lindsey. “It’s sort of like a ‘men’s job’ to do construction, so it’s cool that we get to come out and we can build a house, too.”
“Well I was working on a nail,” said Addie, “and I thought, ‘well, I can just leave this nail,’ and then I was stopped, ‘someone’s gonna live here.’ So I’ve been trying harder.”
Allison added, “I thought the same thing! I had a nail that was sticking up a little bit, and the part I’m doing is so the drywall can go into it. I realized this is where you get those bumps from the nailheads because they didn’t put it on correctly.”
Allison’s daughters all went to or currently attend Metairie Park Country Day School, where they have all done community service projects.
“The students do all of the work,” Allison explained. “They’re only led and mentored by the adults. So they’re learning skills that are transferable, more so than some of the stuff they’re learning in school. Like how to talk to a person about giving them information, talking to the hospitals to explain what they’re doing, setting up budgets, writing grants, asking for money. They’re doing all of it, and it’s really practical. A lot of times it’s not something where you can see it from start to finish, or where you can really see your contribution. I feel like in this situation [Women Build], you’re gonna feel good when you walk away. So that’s cool. You’re physically doing something as opposed to collecting cans and dropping them off or whatever. Demolishing the house was probably pretty rewarding too.”
“It’s interesting too,” Addie said. “It’s a good organization because you can make a big impact by just using simple skills that aren’t very difficult to teach. So it’s just a lot of people coming together and doing small things but it makes this huge impact.”
“It’s really cool that they tell people to just hammer this and hammer that and it all works out,” said Lindsey. “I wouldn’t necessarily trust anyone to build a house, but you’ve gotta just trust people and go for it and it all works out.”