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Released June 7, 2004


HATTIESBURG -- The Institute for Disability Studies (IDS) at The University of Southern Mississippi received a $15,000 donation from the BancorpSouth Foundation to support individuals with disabilities and their families seeking home ownership throughout the state of Mississippi.

"BancorpSouth is committed to affordable housing initiatives, financial literacy and home-buyer education," said Yvonne Ferguson, assistant vice president for BancorpSouth. "The Mississippi Home of Your Own (HOYO) program at IDS fits all these categories.

Cassie Hicks, coordinator for housing initiatives, agreed. "HOYO program participants are low- to moderate-income borrowers who have a disability or have a family member with a disability," she said. "The HOYO program is statewide and has assisted clients in 25 counties to become homeowners."

The Institute for Disability Studies is Mississippi's University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) Research, Education and Service and has been located at Southern Miss for 30 years. The institute provides university training, community service activities, research, and information that promote the independence, productivity and community inclusion of individuals with disabilities and their families.

"These funds will be used to help more individuals with disabilities and their families in seeking home ownership in their communities," said Dr. Jane Siders, executive director of IDS. "The generosity of organizations such as the BancorpSouth Foundation can truly turn dreams into reality."

Tim Ryan, executive director of the USM Foundation, the nonprofit 501(c) (3) corporation that serves as a fiduciary of private funds donated to Southern Miss, said "On behalf of The University of Southern Mississippi and the USM Foundation, I truly appreciate the generous gift that our friends at BancorpSouth are providing through support to the Institute for Disability Studies. Once again BancorpSouth has reinforced the positive relationship we have enjoyed with them over the years, and continues to make community support a high priority. I thank Yvonne Ferguson and the entire BancorpSouth team for their generous support."

Organizations and individuals wanting to contribute to this or other programs at Southern Miss may obtain information by calling the USM Foundation at (601) 266-5602. Trained development officers are available to discuss established programs and areas of need. For more information about IDS, call (601) 266-5163 or 1-888-671-0051 or visit


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June 11, 2004 4:43 PM