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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Building Dawghouses: Habitat for Humanity builds new houses for Starkvillians

Russ Houston | Courtesy Photo

Mark Keenum and others break ground at the fifth annual Maroon Edition Habitat for Humanity house on Miss. Highway. 182. Each year, volunteers with Habitat for Humanity construct homes for Starkvillians.

A house under construction on Mississippi Hwy. 182 in Starkville goes up quickly but without construction workers. The hands that lay shingles and paint walls belong to Starkville residents  and Mississippi State University students who do not necessarily have construction experience. 

The house is the latest project of the Starkville chapter of Habitat for Humanity, which gives MSU students and faculty a tangible way of giving back to the community.  

Habitat for Humanity uses local volunteers to construct new homes with no-interest mortgages for homeowners with low income. These homes intend to eliminate substandard living arrangements and give fresh starts to families seeking change and a chance. 

Joel Downey, executive director of the Starkville Area Habitat for Humanity, said he believes these homes give families a new beginning. 

“Housing and homeownership has a tremendous impact on the well-being of a family.  Adequate, safe, decent and affordable housing has tremendous effect on people’s health and mental outlook,” he said. 

Downey said improved living arrangements provide better social interaction as well as safety and security. 

“To take it a step further, homeownershipcorrelates with all types of positive family characteristics,” Downey said.  

MSU students and faculty are no stranger to Habitat for Humanity. On Aug. 12, the fifth annual Maroon Edition Habitat for Humanity project in the city of Starkville broke ground. This home is dedicated to Raven Hendrix, an MSU employee, and her children.

President Mark Keenum drove one of the first nails into the Maroon Edition House. According to a University Relations news release, when Keenum addressed the Hendrix family, he noted the possibilities the new house could open up for them. 

“This is a fresh start in your lives, having a home for you and your family. We are so appreciative of the community and everyone who helps with this,” Keenum said. 

Campus organizations such as the Foundation Ambassadors give regularly to help fund materials for Habitat homes. Additionally, the Maroon Volunteer Center, Greek organizations and athletic teams on campus coordinate to send volunteers to Habitat locations weekly. 

Out of the $70,000 total estimated cost for a Habitat home to be built in Starkville, donations from MSU groups totaled $46,500 last year.

Brandon Beatty, senior business major, said he participates in Habitat for Humanity in Starkville because it allows him to serve the city that serves him.

 “It was great to give back to the community that has given so much to me,” he said.

Starkville residents are also known to be generous toward Habitat for Humanity. Over $200,000 annually comes from various businesses and groups throughout the city. Citizens volunteer daily to both supervise the construction sites and instruct volunteers on how to build the homes. Habitat keeps an open-door policy at all times and allows anyone to volunteer on Habitat projects. 

Those unskilled in construction build Habitat for Humanity houses and construct more than just homes.Habitat for Humanity brings about more than a home for citizens who deserve them. 

Habitat fosters collaboration in the name of service not only to Starkville citizens’ physical needs, but their need to know this city takes care of its own. 

The Maroon Volunteer Center schedules volunteer shifts for the Maroon Edition home. Shifts are Fridays and Saturdays until Nov. 2. A morning shift and an afternoon shift are both available and each can accommodate up to 25 volunteers. More information may be found at

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Building Dawghouses: Habitat for Humanity builds new houses for Starkvillians