Framework of hope

TUPELO – For two years, there haven’t been many happy stories about the housing market, but a Georgia-based nonprofit came to Tupelo this week to offer some hope in dark times.
Wednesday, a handful of local volunteers spent the day building a frame for a 1,350-square-foot house inside the warm confines of the Tupelo Furniture Market Building I.
When finished, it will be placed on Roosevelt Street, where it will become the new home for a single mother and her three children.
The volunteers’ efforts were part of a joint venture between Habitat for Humanity of Northeast Mississippi, and a recent offshoot called Square Foot Ministry.
Square Foot specializes in forming partnerships between the housing and furniture industries in order to help the poor.
“We try to create a synergy in the community that benefits all involved,” said Frank Paladino of Collierville, Tenn., a regional sales manager whose company, Restonic, has made the building of this year’s house possible through sponsorship.
For about $25 per square foot, churches, civic organizations or companies can sponsor a home like the one that was framed Wednesday. That contribution covers just the basics, like lumber and other building materials.
Square Foot then coordinates efforts of skilled volunteers to frame the house, and transports it to its new location for a lucky family.
From there, Habitat for Humanity takes over to finish the construction.
Square Foot Ministry started in 2002 in Fayetteville, Ga. To date, the organization has framed 50 homes in six Southern states.
Last year, a mixed crew from Fayetteville and Tupelo framed a house for Debra Voyles and her five children. Voyles ran into a few logistical snags in the interim, but she and her family are set to finally move into their new home on Tupelo’s Church Street within three weeks.
“I can’t tell you what a blessing it is,” said an emotional Voyles, adding that her first project is to have a big, family meal.
Like all Habitat recipients, the Volyeses have given back through “sweat equity,” helping build homes for other recipients in the area.
Donna Jarrell, executive director for Habitat of Northeast Mississippi, said the good nature and cooperation, between both businesses and individuals, is always encouraging.
“Habitat builds on faith, and that’s never been truer than today,” she said.

Contact Galen Holley at (662) 678-1510 or galen.holley@djournal.com.

Galen Holley/NEMS Daily Journal