Mississippi State University and Starkville Habitat for Humanity have joined forces again to build a second Maroon Edition Habitat home, which broke ground Tuesday morning.
"We had such success last year with the first Maroon Edition house that we wanted to continue that," said Freddie Rasberry, Habitat executive director.
"We didn't want to lose the momentum we built with the university with the first (Maroon Edition home)," added Flo Henly, Habitat board member.
During a ground-breaking ceremony Tuesday morning, Rasberry presented MSU President Mark Keenum with a hammer to complement the hard hat he received as a gift during the first Maroon Edition building process.
Before he hammered the first ceremonial nail, Keenum addressed the crowd and said, "I am so proud our university is involved with the second Maroon Edition... Mississippi State has a long history of outreach and service, and I am proud to see that continue."
Katie Marie Gray and her two sons, Marc and Scottie Pitman, will be the recipients of the second Maroon Edition home, which is scheduled to be completed in October. The home will be built to be easily accessible for Marc, who has muscular dystrophy.
Gray was overwhelmed with emotion during the ceremony, and when asked how it will feel to serve Thanksgiving dinner in her new home, she let out a huge yell of excitement.
"This is so wonderful. I'm just so thrilled," Gray beamed. "It's going to be so rewarding to help them with my own house. Habitat for Humanity is a great service to this community and low-income families... I'm just so happy."
With all Habitat homes, Gray and her sons will be working side by side with volunteers to invest some sweat equity into their new dwelling. Funds to build the home have come directly from fund-raising and community generosity.
Helping lead the building process is Mississippi State's College of Architecture, Art and Design. When CAAD Associate Dean David Lewis learned that the university was on board with the second Maroon Edition, he felt it was an obvious choice of his students to be fully immersed in the project, he said.
"It is important for our faculty to make available to our students opportunities such as this Habitat for Humanity building project so that both faculty and students recognize that architecture, design, art and construction are as much civic responsibilities as they are personal endeavors," Lewis explained. "We would like to thank Freddie Rasberry and the Starkville Habitat for Humanity for allowing us to take the leadership role in this building project. We look forward to working with both the Habitat personnel, as well as the MSU students this fall to provide a home for the Gray family."