The foundation for lot twelve, Women Build’s thirteenth full home sponsorship, was newly dry when Leslie Johnson arrived ready to work. A Habitat volunteer for the past year, Leslie has framed walls, built stairs and hauled “hundreds” of wheelbarrows full of dirt and gravel—all with a friendly smile. When the opportunity arose to volunteer as part of Women Build, a Habitat for Humanity model that engages women volunteers of any skill level to plan, fundraise and build a healthy and affordable home, Leslie was ready. Women Build provides a supportive, empowering environment where women can gain skills and confidence in all aspects of the build.

“I love watching the new women volunteers throw out their preconceived notions of what they can or cannot do”, Leslie says, describing working side-by-side with women as “extra empowering”.

To Leslie, “seeing new homeowners working together to build not only their home, but their community” is what connects her to Habitat’s mission. Her “hands down” most rewarding experience was helping build a playground at Glisan Gardens, a 25-home Habitat community in Gresham’s Rockwood neighborhood.

“We had it all finished up right in time for the kids to get off the school bus. They walked up and saw that the construction fence was down; smiles grew on their faces as they ran up to the yard, dropped their backpacks and gleefully climbed, swung, scrambled and laughed. That was the best day, so far.”

An adventurous spirit, Leslie’s introduction to Habitat came in the form of a Global Village volunteer trip to Nicaragua, sponsored by a Sacramento, California affiliate. She joined her friend and her friend’s daughter for the 10-day build international build. Leslie returned home inspired to volunteer locally; “I was hooked! […] I was incredibly impressed with Habitat’s mission and the organization as a whole.”

With an infectiously-positive attitude, Leslie lives life by her personal motto: to leave whatever she comes in contact with better than how she found it. She retired from a 30-year career as a scientist testing air quality emissions, sold the business she owned and now spends her free time hiking, backpacking, kayaking, exercising, and hanging with friends. When she’s not adventuring in the great outdoors and building homes with Habitat, Leslie is a volunteer girls’ rugby coach and donates her time at Portland’s Raphael House.

For more information on how you can become involved with Women Build, please contact Marianne McClure at marianne@habitatportlandmetro.org.