In just over two decades, the Starkville Area Habitat for Humanity has built over forty homes for families living in desperate conditions.
With the goal of building two homes a year, Habitat has completed 43 homes in Starkville since 1987.
This coming spring, Habitat will begin its Collegiate Challenge, where groups of college students come to Starkville during their Spring Break to spend around 2,500 hours building a house.
Staying at local boy scout camps, the students learn the basics of building a house and humanitarian work.
“We’ve had several of them enroll at MSU after thinking they were going somewhere else,” said Dr. Freddie P. Rasberry, executive director.
The family moving into the “Spring Apostles House” has ten-members, a mother and father of eight children, all of which share a bathroom and two bedrooms with a bedroom-converted closet.
Mississippi State University’s second Maroon Edition Habitat home scheduled for the fall next year will relieve a mother and two children with handicapped accessibility for a boy who suffers from muscular dystrophy.
Families chosen as beneficiaries of the program generally pay rent that is too high for their incomes and live in multi-generational homes, Rasberry said.
Habitat takes 30-40 applications every year and interviews about five. A selection committee then ranks them first, second and third, with the first and second being the next new homeowners and the third having to reapply for the following year.
Parents of Habitat families often find more stable jobs and training after taking classes at Emerson Family School and gaining a sense of independence, while their children’s grades improve after feeling less crowded. Two of the “Habitat children” have recently graduated from MSU.
“I’d like to think we were part of it,” Rasberry said.
“Parents will tell us we were part of it,” office manager Peggy Branch said.
The focus of Habitat is to play a part in breaking the cycle of poverty by removing unfit housing.
Monique Hall and her four children have been living in a Habitat house for two years.
“The new home has really made a change in our lives,” she said. “The Habitat staff is another part of my family - the best friends and family you would ever want to meet.” Hall’s son, Jacquez Robert suffered nosebleeds caused by mildew in their former home and now has no health problems.
United Way, local churches and private donors help fund of Habitat’s operations along with the Phillips Financial Habitat Golf Classic, which helped raise $30,000 this year for building materials.
Myles Carpenter has chaired the tournament since it began seven years ago.
“Many businesses and individuals in the Starkville area have been gracious enough to sponsor holes and others have made donations that are used as raffle items or door prizes,” he said. “It is great to see the whole community supporting the golf tournament which in turn supports Habitat.”
Board member and volunteer Linda Codato said that the rewards are higher than the workload for Habitat.
“You get a lot more than you put in,” she said. “I could not think of a better organization to be involved with.”
For more information on how to donate, volunteer or apply for a house, call 324-7008 or visit: http://www.starkvillehabitat.com .
To be considered for a home, a person must face the following conditions:
• Needing a better place to live.
• Paying more than a fourth of their income for rent.
• Having lived in Starkville for more than one year.
• Dire housing problems, such as leaky roofs, bad plumbing, bad wiring, no insulation and poor heating.
• Cramped bedroom spaces where teenagers have to share a space with very young children or three or more children share a room.
A person must also be willing to do the following:
• Make interest free payments every month.
• Make at least $1,250 per month and have been in employed at the same job for over a year.
• Partner with the Starkville Area Habitat for Humanity by completing 300 hours of volunteer work per family.
• Take courses at Emerson Family School related to personal and family improvement.