Nailing Down Hope

Habitat for Humanity client pays it forward through Women Build

By Jessica Laskey
December 2021

When Denise Rochelle McCoy dons a pink hard hat in March to participate in the annual Women Build event for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Sacramento, it will bring back memories. McCoy wore a hard hat to build her own Habitat house in 2015, when she took the leap into homeownership.

“I was renting a one-bedroom apartment in a challenging neighborhood where there was a lot of violence after losing my job,” McCoy says. “I thought, am I ever going to get out of this? It took three years of research, cleaning up my credit and saving money for a down payment, but I finally purchased my current property through Habitat for Humanity in 2015.”

Over the last 36 years, nonprofit Habitat for Humanity has helped thousands of local people in underserved neighborhoods build and repair homes. Last year, Habitat served more than 3,500 individuals in Sacramento and Yolo counties through home builds, repairs and community projects.

One project was Women Build, a monthlong event that recruits and empowers women of all ages, backgrounds and industries to help Habitat build and repair affordable homes.

“They don’t just hand you a house,” says McCoy, a real estate agent and senior property manager at HomeRiver Group who’s been in the property management business since age 18. “It took me 15 months to put in my 500 sweat equity hours. Even my eldest daughter, who turned 16 toward the end of the building process, helped out.”

McCoy is part of a long tradition of women helping women. Habitat for Humanity International started Women Build in 2003. Participants raise funds and provide volunteer muscle. Over the past 18 years, Women Build engaged 138,000 women volunteers worldwide who helped build, renovate or repair more than 5,325 homes.

Over the past decade, the local Women Build event brought together more than 1,300 women who donated more than 10,000 volunteer hours.

The March event is expected to be the biggest Women Build yet. Participants will pledge at least $250 to fund new home construction for low-income families, repair projects for seniors and veterans, and community and playhouse build projects to support Habitat’s Neighborhood Revitalization Program.

“I’ve gotten quite a few girlfriends interested in coming with me this spring—I’m excited to have my own little crew,” says McCoy, who produces the weekly “Dee McCoy Radio Show” in her spare time through Access Sacramento and is developing a property management app through her company, Property Management Queen.

“You run into amazing people at the job sites,” she says. “It’s a great way for women to collaborate and network for a cause that’s bigger than any of us. It feels really good inside to help someone else realize a dream they’ve had for God knows how many years.”

It’s a dream McCoy is proud to have realized.

“On Day One of construction for my house, we were digging in the soil to set rebar for the foundation and I saved some of the soil in an empty water bottle,” she says. “I often visit that little bottle in my closet and grab it and hug it as a constant reminder of what I did to realize my dream of homeownership. It was so worth it.”

For information about Women Build 2022, visit

Jessica Laskey can be reached at Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram:

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