EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

May 26, 2013

Former convent being turned into Habitat for Humanity condos

LAWRENCE — Few things make Jose Arache happier than when he gets up on a ladder to do framing, put up insulation, walls and ceilings.

Arache is helping build a home for he and his son, Tighe, 2. He is one of 10 families who will occupy condominiums being built into the former St. Patrick convent by Habitat for Humanity of Merrimack Valley. A second family was also selected.

“This is what we all want as immigrants to achieve the American dream,” said Arache, who rents a room where he lives with Tighe. “Working with others in building the house makes me proud that I will not only have a safe place to live, but I played a role in it.”

On May 8, Arache and other volunteers were joined by 20 women participating in the annual “WomenBuild” at 100 Parker St. Women Build is a partnership between Habitat for Humanity and Lowe’s.

The women came from Lawrence, Andover, Methuen, Haverhill, Newburyport and Arlington. There were also employees from Lowes Home Improvement, Al Catel-Lucent, a telecommunications equipment company in North Andover, Mersen of Newburyport, manufacturers of electrical equipment. Seven members of the book club on the Golden Oaks neighborhood in Andover provided lunch.

Among those participating in Women Build was Nancy LaPlante of Newbury.

“I think it’s important to give back to the community and help people who cannot do it for themselves,” LaPlante said. “I’m glad he can have the opportunity to have his own place.”

Kay O’Neil of Andover also volunteered during Women Build.

“This is an organization working with families to change their lives,” O’Neil said. “This is not only an investment of money and energy, but of heart. It provides a sense of hope for the families.”

Emerson Dahmen, building director for Habitat for Humanity said the project is well underway.

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