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Mississippi College

Habitat Project in Clinton Attracts Mississippi College Community

February 11, 2014

Tearing down walls, painting, carpentry work, and cleaning the yard are all part of the newest Habitat for Humanity project in Clinton.

Mississippi College students, faculty, staff, and alumni will join teams of Clintonians volunteering for the city’s latest Habitat initiative that will revitalize a vacant residence. Work on the project in the Cherry Park subdivision off Old Vicksburg Road begins March 22. It will take seven Saturdays to complete the job this spring.

Thanks to donations from churches, businesses, Mississippi College and others, Clinton is embarking on its third Habitat build in recent years, supporters say.

MC Vice President for Christian Development Eric Pratt participated in previous Habitat projects to construct two new homes to assist needy families on Neal Street. He can’t wait to get the tools in hand in late March to start working with fellow volunteers.

“Habitat builds brings the community together to assist a family in our area,” Pratt said. It not only helps low-income families with good affordable housing. “It builds relationships across the board.”

Whether teaming Mississippi College students with youth groups from area churches or senior citizens with business people and educators, Habitat work is fulfilling from start to finish.

“We have fun engaging in significant work to make Clinton a better place to live, to work, to study and enjoy,” Pratt said.

Habitat for Humanity in the Mississippi Capital Area has built or renovated 566 homes for metro Jackson families the past 27 years. That’s an investment of $21 million to help 1,850 people.

“Just about anybody can participate,” says Clinton Alderman-At-Large Jehu Brabham, an MC graduate who’s been involved in other Habitat builds in Clinton and metro Jackson. As far as construction work goes, “I’ve never been gifted,” says Brabham, the administrator at Parkway Baptist Church. “I’m a good go-fer.”

Raising the funds to launch Clinton’s third Habitat project, he said, was a “huge uphill struggle,” that took more than two years. But thanks to gifts from churches, businesses, Mississippi College and individuals, the goal was finally reached. It costs about $40,000 to rehabilitate an older home, and some $65,000 to build a new one, Brabham said.

Donna Jacobs was among the Butler Snow lawyers working with the Mississippi College School of Law at a Habitat build in Jackson during the Martin Luther King Jr. birthday celebration in January.

Teaming with development director Thorne Butler, students and other volunteers with the MC Law School was rewarding work, said Jacobs, a Habitat board member and Clinton resident. “Getting to see the children in the families being assisted – that’s fun.”

Family members who will live in a new or rehabilitated Habitat home always pitch in with the construction. It’s a process that Habitat leaders call “sweat equity.”

Cindy Griffin, executive director of Habitat for Humanity Mississippi Capital Area, is encouraging armies of volunteers to step forward for the new Clinton project.

Volunteering with Habitat, she said, “is a fun and rewarding experience where individuals can make new friends and learn valuable construction skills. It also is a great team building activity for groups.”

But the greatest satisfaction, Griffin said, “is the feeling one gets from the knowledge that you are transforming lives and changing neighborhoods – building homes and building hope.”

At several shifts during the day, volunteers at the new Clinton build will install new windows and doors, clean tubs, windows and floors, take part in landscaping duties and handle the clean-up. There’s a task on the to-do list for every skill level.

The new project will definitely benefit Clinton, Griffin said. “The rehabilitation of this home will stabilize a neighborhood while providing a brighter future for a deserving family.”

To become a Habitat volunteer at Mississippi College, contact Shari Barnes, director of the Community Service Center at the Baptist-affiliated university at 601.925.3267 or sbarnes@mc.edu. The Habitat volunteer coordinator in Jackson, Toy Gathings, can be reached at tgathings@habitatjackson.org.

Photo: Mississippi College students volunteering on a previous Habitat project.