By Riley Manning
TUPELO – With her first two weeks under her belt, Northeast Mississippi Habitat for Humanity’s new executive director, Michelle Shepherd, has hit the ground running.
“Last weekend we had a really successful build with Toyota,” Shepherd said. “The volunteer turnout was strong, and next week we have an application meeting for people and families who may qualify to receive a habitat house.”
Shepherd first became familiar with Habitat for Humanity while attending the University of Mississippi, where she graduated in 2009 and earned her master’s degree in accounting in 2010. Upon graduating, the Tupelo native found work with the internal audit department at BancorpSouth.
“Habitat for Humanity had such a presence at Ole Miss, and when I saw the executive director job opening, it struck me as a way to really make a difference,” she said.
In the coming weeks, Shepherd will work closely with Habitat for Humanity’s Family Selection Committee, which will narrow down applications for a habitat house.
From there, the committee will visit the remaining applicants in person to gain a firsthand idea of their living situations.
“An applicant can qualify by having something structurally wrong with their current residence, or by abject living conditions, such as too many people forced to share bedrooms,” she said.
In the future, Shepherd said she would like to complete more houses annually. Currently, Habitat for Humanity produces between six and eight. The need, she said, is bigger than the average person might realize.
“I’ve been other places and seen it, but having grown up in Tupelo, I was surprised at how many people need it,” she said. “In your own backyard, it probably doesn’t cross your mind as much as it should.”