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Mary Mattison is one of three charter members of the Birthday Club, which was formed about 22 years ago. The "Birthday Club Builders" worked Saturday at the Habitat for Humanity WomenBuild home located at Central Avenue and Fourth Street Southeast. Pioneer Photo/ Laurie Swenson
Mary Mattison is one of three charter members of the Birthday Club, which was formed about 22 years ago. The "Birthday Club Builders" worked Saturday at the Habitat for Humanity WomenBuild home located at Central Avenue and Fourth Street Southeast. Pioneer Photo/ Laurie Swenson

Birthday Club Builders: Women build on birthdays

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news Bemidji, 56619

Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

A group of women who worked on the Habitat for Humanity Women Build house Saturday have been building together for many years as members of the Birthday Club.

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Six of the club's 12 members worked on the house, which is located at Central Avenue and Fourth Street Southeast and will be owned by Shawna and Joe Reandeau and their family, who also have been working on construction.

The Birthday Club has 12 members, one for each month of the year. Every month, a different member is guest of honor at a birthday celebration.

Members are unsure of exactly what year the club started, but it was at least 22 years ago, said Mary Mattison, one of three charter members. Mattison's birthday (Oct. 8) was the first celebration ever held by the club.

Mattison was joined Saturday by Jane Josefson, a member for 19 years, Barb Treat and Janet Christiansen, 18 years; Carol Lauderbaugh, 16 years; and Terri Schaubhut, who at 14 years is the newest member.

Not all the members have a party on their actual birthday. Schaubhut, whose birthday is in June, has her celebration in July because June was already taken when she joined.

Sherry Mattison, Mattison's sister-in-law, came out as a volunteer Saturday. The two women chose to work outside with site supervisor Al Bontrager, hauling black dirt and laying patio blocks, while the other women donned face masks to sand walls and ceilings inside the house. Wendi Fogelson, a volunteer from Insure Forward, also joined the workers.

Birthday Club members not present Saturday were charter members Becky Murphy and Linda Nei, and Sharon Gavlovski, Pat Boe, Deb Steigauf and Mary Braaten.

For birthday celebrations, the club has gone to new restaurants, enjoyed pontoon rides, toured Christmas displays, attended concerts and plays, and even worked at a member's wedding.

Lauderbaugh's daughter got married last August, and her fellow Birthday Club members were servers at the wedding.

"They were my buffet people," she said.

Food is an important element of their get-togethers, members pointed out.

While the club officially meets only 12 times a year, its members have a bond that goes beyond the second Thursday of each month, sharing births, deaths and other changes that affect one another's lives.

"We stick together -- marriages, birthdays, weddings, funerals, divorces ... grandchildren," said Christiansen, who is known as "Nanny."

Treat came up with the suggestion that the club members volunteer to work on the Habitat for Humanity house.

"The Women Build is what intrigued me," she said.

"We've all done it at our own house," Schaubhut said.

"I've sweat many times," Josefson agreed.

Bontrager said he has enjoyed working with the women of Women Build. He said male and female Habitat for Humanity workers both work hard and both have fun, but the fun is different among women than men.

"We're just about ready to paint, and then we'll go for the finish line," Bontrager said.

"They were supposed to have the house done the end of November, but it's anticipated to be done the end of October," Treat said.

"It's because women are building the house," she added, smiling.

lswenson@bemidjipioneer.com

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