Contact: Zack Plair
STARKVILLE, Miss.—Annie Hopkins never forgets a birthday.
A 12-year Mississippi State employee, she drives the Starkville-MSU Area Rapid Transit shuttle along routes that include the Thad Cochran Research, Technology and Economic Development Park and Haven 12 apartments. The Aiken Village Preschool and Child Development and Family Studies Center at MSU both sit on the research park route, and she makes sure to give each student at those facilities a card on his or her birthday.
On Wednesday [March 2], Hopkins celebrated a different kind of “birthday” – the day a brand new house became her home.
MSU’s Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life and Starkville Area Habitat for Humanity dedicated the home at 107 Owens Lane to Hopkins Wednesday afternoon, bringing months of planning and building to fruition. The university’s Greek organizations donated $75,000 to fully fund the project, as well as hundreds of volunteer hours.
“I wish you could feel my joy,” Hopkins said. “This is the biggest gift I’ve ever gotten.”
The 59th Starkville Area Habitat home, it is the eighth in which the organization has partnered with Mississippi State. This is the first time Fraternity and Sorority Life has funded a home.
At 990 square feet, Starkville Area Habitat Executive Director Joel Downey said the two bedroom, one bathroom home was custom built for Hopkins, who suffers from severe arthritis. Its open floor plan, wide doorways and convenient kitchen layout will better accommodate Hopkins as she gets older, Downey said.
Downey and others who spoke about Hopkins on Wednesday highlighted her willingness to go above and beyond her job description, including using her personal vehicle on weekends to help college students without a car get around Starkville.
“She’s an excellent choice for the first Greek Life house,” Downey said. “I think this is probably one of the prettiest houses we’ve ever done.”
Over the last 30 years, Starkville Area Habitat for Humanity has completed homes for families in need and offers 20-year, no-interest loans to recipients. All applicants go through a selection process, Downey said, and recipients must have the means to pay the mortgage, must put at least 300 “sweat equity” hours into building the home, and must agree to complete three self-improvement classes – one of which must focus on financial literacy.
Regina Hyatt, MSU vice president for Student Affairs, said she is proud of the Greek organizations’ fundraising and volunteer efforts for the project. She also extended her best wishes to Hopkins.
“It’s so exciting to see this house fully completed,” Hyatt said. “It was built with love for you. So enjoy, and welcome home.”
Even in the elation of her moment, with her new home keys in hand, Hopkins spoke to the positive impact Habitat for Humanity could have for others in the future. She said she specifically wants MSU Fraternity and Sorority Life to sponsor another Habitat project.
“Don’t let this be your last one,” she said. “Please keep it going. There are others who need a home, too.”
MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.