Seattle Storm hoopsters dish an assist at Habitat project
May 11, 2010
By Ganelle Swehla
In an effort to draw attention to the housing challenges facing low-income families, Habitat for Humanity has teamed up with WNBA team Seattle Storm to build a home in Issaquah.
As a part of the WNBA Cares week, officially scheduled for the week of May 9-15, the Storm is helping with East King County’s Habitat for Humanity.
Twelve franchises across the league are participating in the WNBA Cares week, Storm CEO Karen Bryant said.
“Our organization really prides itself on being authentic in our dedication to the community,” she said.
Getting a jump-start on the league-scheduled volunteer program, the Storm made an appearance last week at the Issaquah Highlands as a part of East King County Habitat for Humanity’s third annual Women Build.
“It’s a volunteer event for women from the community to come out and build with Habitat, to learn a new skill and to work alongside the future homeowner,” said Jodi Marmion, special events/communication officer for East King County Habitat for Humanity.
Outfitted with hardhats, hammers and a few brooms, Storm players toured the construction site, posed for photos and met with soon-to-be homeowner Lola Reyes.
They enlisted the help of several franchise players, including head coach Brian Agler and even Anne Levinson and Dawn Trudeau, of Force 10 Hoops L.L.C., the Storm’s ownership group. Beginning May 9, the players, coaches and select members of the front office staff were scheduled to help Habitat for Humanity with the final stages of the housing project.
“A few months ago, we were brainstorming about female leaders in the community, and one of the groups we wanted to reach out to was the Storm,” Marmion said. “They are strong, empowered and athletic women in our community, and are a perfect fit for the organization.”
Habitat for Humanity’s goal in building in the Issaquah Highlands is to provide affordable housing in a location where it is otherwise hard to find.
“We build with families, but it’s going to be very difficult to solve the affordable housing crisis one house at a time,” Habitat Executive Director Tom Granger said.
He said that with the help of high-profile volunteers like the Storm, the issues facing the housing market will gain attention on a larger scale through something Granger calls “build louder.”
“What is really important is to get the word out, to shine the light on the affordable-housing crisis in our community, country and in fact around the world, and to inspire, to motivate and to mobilize the community to address the issue,” Granger said.
“The spotlight follows the Storm around and they have a platform, and for them to come out and say that Habitat for Humanity is important is huge and very important for us,” he said.
The Storm, paired with Habitat and AmeriCorps volunteers, will be assisting Reyes in realizing her dream to finally become a homeowner.
“What is unique about Habitat is they feel children and families deserve a safe home,” Reyes said. “They do care that I am a good person, a good mother and a hard worker, and they won’t give me a home, but they will allow my children and I to earn one.
“And while we are earning, they promise to support us by educating us on how to be a homeowner, how to create a budget and be a good neighbor, and they allow us to work hard together to construct a beautiful house,” she added.
As for the Storm, their involvement in the community goes beyond a single philanthropic week.
“We pride ourselves on winning championships and being champions on the court, but we also pride ourselves on being champions in the community, and hearing these stories inspire us,” Storm forward Swin Cash said.
Ganelle Swehla is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory.