MSU, Habitat for Humanity dedicate ninth Maroon Edition home

Mississippi State University students Rob Montgomery and Mariam Khmaladze present a handmade t-shirt quilt to Kareema Gillon. The quilt is designed to help the Gillon family remember the MSU students that worked on the new home, which was dedicated to the Gillons on Tuesday [Nov. 21]. (Photo by Beth Wynn)

Contact: James Carskadon

STARKVILLE, Miss.—The Gillon family has a new home to celebrate Thanksgiving after the ninth Mississippi State University Maroon Edition Habitat for Humanity home was dedicated during a Tuesday [Nov. 21] ceremony in Starkville.

MSU, City of Starkville and Starkville Area Habitat for Humanity officials came together to celebrate the new home, built by volunteers for Kareema Gillon and her two young children, Korrine and Dorione. As part of the university’s Maroon Edition program, MSU students, faculty and staff volunteered to build the house. Gillon, who often worked alongside the volunteers, said she could not have asked for a bigger blessing for her children and herself.

“This home is something built for us. I put my own hard work and sweat into it,” Gillon said. “Every room has a piece of me. It’s been a great experience to have.”

The new home provides a better living environment for Gillon and her children, age two and seven. Her family previously lived in a small trailer with a poor electrical system and uneven floors. As an assistant manager for a local McDonald’s, Gillon hopes to graduate with an associate’s degree from East Mississippi Community College in social work and looks forward to raising her family in a safe place they can call their own.

“With Thanksgiving coming up, I’m thankful for being in a community that cares about people and wants to reach out and help people,” Starkville Area Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Joel Downey said.

The Gillon family home is the latest house built on Owens Street, which is now lined with Habitat for Humanity homes on both sides of the street.

“This home says so much about Starkville, Mississippi State and our work together to make this community the very best that it can be,” Starkville Mayor Lynn Spruill said.

As part of the dedication ceremony, the Gillon family was presented with a Bible, a handmade quilt and a homeowner’s manual.

“This home is a shining beacon of love for all to see in this community,” MSU President Mark E. Keenum said. “It makes me so proud that Mississippi State University will forever be a part of this wonderful home.”

The Habitat home is part of the service-learning component of the Maroon Edition First-Year Reading Experience, which encourages students to read a common book. The 2017 Maroon Edition book is “The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates” by Wes Moore. MSU’s Maroon Volunteer Center helped coordinate student groups and individuals that volunteered to build the house.

For more on the Maroon Edition program, visit

The Maroon Volunteer Center is online at; and Starkville Area Habitat for Humanity at

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at