July 25, 2014  

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Southern Miss Employee Gets Keys to New Habitat for Humanity Home

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Melissa Carpenter cuts the ribbon on her new Habitat for Humanity Home during a dedication ceremony on Sept. 10. (Office of University Communications Photo by Van Arnold)

Tears flowed down the faces of many who gathered Saturday, Sept. 10 to watch University of Southern Mississippi employee Melissa Carpenter receive the keys to her new Habitat for Humanity Home.

Carpenter, who has worked in the Office of Student Activities at Southern Miss for the past 14 years, waited patiently for almost two years for the home to be completed. During that time she and a large group of volunteers logged more than 1,122 hours of sweat equity. Habitat families are required to complete 450 sweat equity hours – 250 of which must come from the prospective homeowner.

“As most of you know, this has been a lifelong dream of mine – to be a homeowner,” said Carpenter as she addressed a large turnout at Celeste Place in Hattiesburg, Miss. “Today I can say that the dream has finally come true. I certainly did not make this happen by myself and to all the volunteers who helped with this project and to Habitat for Humanity I want to express my sincere thanks.”

Habitat homeowners pay for their homes with a zero-interest, no-profit mortgage spread out over 20 years. Kami Fleener, family and volunteer services manager with Hattiesburg Area Habitat for Humanity, said Carpenter fit all the criteria for home ownership, and then some.

“Melissa has dedicated her life to helping others,” said Fleener. “She has been such an encouragement to the staff of Habitat as well as our homeowners. She is always willing to lend a hand by either swinging a hammer or by helping sign in volunteers”

Since 1990 the Hattiesburg Area Habitat for Humanity has helped provide new homes to 55 families in the Hattiesburg community. For more information about the program call 601.582.4663 or visit the agency on Facebook at www.facebook.com/hattiesburghabitat