STARKVILLE, Miss.--Owning a home is the first step toward real security, a step the Walton family has taken in becoming the newest recipients of a Habitat for Humanity house.
The fourth Mississippi State University Maroon Edition project and the 50th local Habitat house is benefiting Daphne Walton and her five children. A Tuesday [Nov. 20] morning ceremony dedicated the 276 Steadman Lane residence, and a tour of the four-bedroom home followed.
MSU President Mark E. Keenum spoke during the ceremony, welcoming the Walton family to the new residence. He also presented the family with a homeowner Bible and an MSU cowbell.
"What a wonderful service project for us as a university, to be able to allow our students be a part of something so special, knowing they're making a difference in the lives of a family," Keenum said.
Meggan Franks, MSU student leadership program coordinator, presented Walton with an MSU quilt made by Starkville resident Dot Livingston. The quilt was crafted out of t-shirts donated by people who worked on the house.
To qualify for the Habitat home, Walton completed an extensive screening process to ensure she met requirements for home ownership. And as part of Habitat's requirement for participation, the family contributed a minimum of 300 hours of sweat equity toward the construction of their home or other Habitat projects.
"This is a dream come true. I wanted to be able to build a part of my own home and this allowed me to do that," Walton said.
Student and employee volunteers worked Fridays and Saturdays throughout the fall semester until the home was completed. MSU's Maroon Volunteer Center coordinated the efforts.
Freddie Raspberry, a retired MSU faculty member now serving as area Habitat executive director, said each Habitat house totals about $65,000 for construction costs, which will be repaid by the family in a no-interest loan over a 20 year period.
"We have grown and realized our own inner strengths, and through this my kids will have the freedom inside themselves to be the very best they can be and, in turn, be able to help others," Walton said of the experience.