University of Southern Mississippi employee Melissa Carpenter has mountains of praise heaped on her practically every day.
What she does not have is a home of her own. But that’s all about to change.
Carpenter, who serves as a secretary in the Student Activities Office at Southern Miss, will get to see a lifelong dream come true as the owner of a new home courtesy of Hattiesburg Area Habitat for Humanity. Construction is set to begin at Celeste Place in Hattiesburg in early February with completion scheduled for sometime in April.
“When I found out I almost screamed,” said Carpenter. “I’ve cried many tears of joy over this. Habitat for Humanity does so much for people in need. I feel so blessed that they are helping me become a homeowner for the first time.”
To help defray costs of construction, a basketball fundraiser has been organized pitting the internationally-acclaimed Harlem Ambassadors against a group of notable Hattiesburg area business professionals dubbed the “Habitat Hoopsters.” Gametime is set for 7 p.m., Feb. 12 at William Carey University’s Clinton Gymnasium. Citizens National Bank is serving as title sponsor of the event.
The Harlem Ambassadors offer a unique brand of entertainment, featuring high-flying slam dunks, dazzling ball-handling tricks and non-stop comedy routines. The Ambassadors work extensively with non-profit and service organizations across the United States, performing more than 200 shows a year.
Josh Duplantis, interim director of the Office of Community Service Learning at Southern Miss, helped organize the basketball fundraiser and plans to volunteer during construction of Carpenter’s new home.
“In Melissa’s tenure at USM she has dedicated countless hours to students and their success,” said Duplantis. “In addition to her work here, she also serves several community agencies including Civitan, United Way, and Big Brothers/Big Sisters just to name a few. With all that she gives, we are humbled to have the opportunity to give something back to her and make her dream of home ownership a reality.”
Carpenter’s home will be the sixth to occupy space in Celeste Place off Edwards Street in the Southeast part of Hattiesburg. The three-bedroom, one-and-a-half bath dwelling will include a front porch, laundry space, refrigerator, stove, driveway and storage shed.
According to Andrea Dixon, executive director of Hattiesburg Area Habitat for Humanity, applicants are required to complete 450 “sweat equity” hours and provide a down payment of $500 before moving into their new home. The recipient may then purchase the home from a Habitat for Humanity affiliate through a zero-percent interest, 20-year loan.
“The work Habitat does in the Hattiesburg community is so vital because it brings people together in a way that unites us,” said Dixon. “Everyone understands shelter. It’s a common need that we all have.
“Habitat joins families, volunteers and donors, all who make up Hattiesburg’s churches, schools, corporations, businesses, civic groups and local governments together to declare that affordable housing is necessary in our community and poverty housing has no place here.”
Advance tickets to the basketball fundraiser for students and seniors are $7 and $9 for general admission. Day-of-the-game tickets for students and seniors will be $8 and $10 for general admission. All children age 4 and under will be admitted free. Tickets are available at all Citizens Bank locations, the Student Activities Hub at Southern Miss and the Habitat for Humanity office on Highway 42 in Hattiesburg. For more information call 601.266.6467 or 601.582.4663.
University of Southern Mississippi employee Melissa Carpenter, left, will receive a new home courtesy of the Hattiesburg Area Habitat for Humanity. Pictured with Carpenter is area Habitat director Andrea Dixon. (Office of University Communications photo by Van Arnold)
About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities. In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world. Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at www.usm.edu.