MSU, Oktibbeha County representatives break ground on new Habitat for Humanity neighborhood

Contact: Carl Smith

Habitat groundbreaking
Left to right: Mark E. Keenum, President of the State of Mississippi, Rev. Charles Brown, Angela Nichols, home recipient, and Clint Vancourt, President of the Board of Directors of Starkville Area Habitat for Humanity, at the groundbreaking ceremony for Nichols’ future home at Kelly Estates . MSU and Habitat volunteers will transform the former 11-acre dairy farm into a 30-home neighborhood over the next decade. (Photo by Grace Cockrell)

STARKVILLE, Mississippi—Volunteers from Mississippi State and Oktibbeha County will transform a former local dairy farm into a 30-household community over the next decade.

Representatives from the Starkville Area Habitat for Humanity and the university broke ground on Wednesday [Nov. 30] about a new home benefiting an MSU family as part of the 14th annual Maroon Edition home building partnership between the two companies.

The home will be the first of approximately 30 homes to be built on Kelly Estates, an 11-acre property in east Oktibbeha County by Habitat volunteers, including MSU employees and students. The recipient family is led by Angela Nichols, a Starkville native who has worked for MSU Student Housing Services for 12 years.

The groundbreaking at 821 16th Section Road was attended by numerous MSU representatives—President Mark E. Keenum, Vice President Student Affairs Regina Hyatt, and Student Leadership and Community Engagement Assistant Director Alexis Hampton—and others from the community, including Oktibbeha County District 2 Supervisor Orlando Coach and Rev. Charles Brown of Pine Grove Missionary Baptist Church.

MSU President Mark E. Keenum, reflecting on the region’s severe weather this week, said homes offer sanctuary from life’s storms and provide a place to “celebrate the blessings of our lives.”

“They are where we gather with family and friends for birthdays, anniversaries and holidays and where we can be together and be ourselves – and feel at home,” he said. “That’s why it’s so wonderful to be here with you this morning as we celebrate this special family, their future new home and the many volunteers who will help complete it.”

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Keenum said that Mississippi students, faculty and staff are proud to have worked with Habitat for Humanity partners for many years.

Amanda Henry, executive director of Starkville Area Habitat for Humanity, said the organization plans to build two or three houses a year and could complete the neighborhood in about a decade.

“Home ownership is a life-changing event that affects generations. Starkville Area Habitat has been here since 1986 and we can see this generational effect,” she said. “There are kids who grew up in Habitat houses that own them now. It really makes a difference.

“Having MSU students and staff as partners is a tremendous benefit to us in terms of support, but it’s also a benefit to them to have employment service opportunities like this in their own community,” Henry added.

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