By NATHAN GREGORY
Twenty-five years after its inception, the Starkville Area Habitat for Humanity program is celebrating a milestone when volunteers begin building the non-profit’s 50th house.
This time, regular volunteers will receive extra help with the Mississippi State University Maroon Edition program teams up with Habitat for the fourth time. MSU President Mark Keenum will be on hand at 276 Steadman Lane today at 9:30 a.m. to drive in the first nail.
The Maroon Edition is a program designed to engage MSU freshmen as well as other students and faculty to read a showcased literary work. A service project is chosen relating to the text which allows students to lend a helping hand to the community.
Executive Director Freddie Rasberry said construction on the house is scheduled to be finished in early November and hopes its owners will be moved in by Thanksgiving.
When built, the house will become a home to Daphne Walton and her five children.
Rasberry said the Waltons currently live in a three-bedroom apartment and are looking forward to moving to a house that can provide more space and a better quality of life.
The fact that Habitat has continued to thrive after 25 years in Starkville is a testament to the continued support local residents, churches and businesses have devoted during that time, Rasberry said.
“This really is a milestone, especially if you think about the fact that community support has made this possible since the beginning,” Rasberry said.
With Habitat and the Maroon Edition program teaming up, anywhere from 500-700 volunteers will devote thousands of hours to building the new home, he said.
“(The program is) designed to engage student volunteers on the MSU campus. We help a family, help the community and help students have an opportunity to do something for somebody else,” Rasberry said. “It’s a great experience. We have kids who will contact us after they ride by a home they helped with five years earlier and tell us how good it still looks.”
Keenum said he’s proud to see the Maroon Edition’s continued involvement with Habitat.
“We’re pleased that Mississippi State students will again have an opportunity to kick off a new academic year in the spirit of service by helping build a Habitat for Humanity home for the fourth year in a row. We expect that our students, along with faculty and staff, will devote some 5,000 hours of volunteer labor to this project, as they have during each of the previous three years,” Keenum said. “Our association with Starkville Habitat for Humanity has provided the university with a great opportunity to help our students develop a lifelong commitment to service. We’re proud to be associated with Habitat for Humanity and we congratulate the hundreds of community volunteers who have done so much over the years to help out fellow citizens through this outstanding organization.”
Rasberry said volunteers will be working from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. all next week to get the house completely framed with a roof installed. After that, they will work each Friday and Saturday until the job is done.
Rasberry said he and his wife, Peggy, are finishing their ninth year of working with Habitat, and they’re both blessed to be involved with the organization.
“The most important statement we always try to make is every penny donated to Habitat in Starkville goes into a house. Very few non-profits can make that statement,” Rasberry said. “You can see what the value of the community support is. This is a great ministry, and we’re blessed to be a part of it. We just try to be great stewards and try to do as much as we can with what the community provides.”