By Riley Manning/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Tupelo High School’s Habitat for Humanity Club members are showing the community they’re not afraid to get their hands dirty.
Last semester, the club worked on two Habitat houses, but this week they finished a house they built from the ground up.
What’s more, they became only the second high school in the country to foot the entire bill for building a house.
They received a national nod with a second place for their efforts.
They were one of two high school clubs nationwide to sponsor an entire home.
“High-schoolers get points towards honor letters and things like that for doing community service, but it became very apparent that they weren’t doing it for the points,” said faculty adviser Suzy Williams.
The club’s president, senior Ashley Williams, said she started the club as a junior after experiencing multiple Habitat for Humanity projects through her church youth group. In July, she drafted a letter to send out to businesses and friends asking for support.
“I had a summer job at the Tupelo Country Club, so I knew of a lot of people I could send the letter to that I had met through the job,” she said. “It was really easy to get the word out.”
Williams said she did not expect the volume of student response.
“For them it was an opportunity to get out and do something out of the
ordinary, and work with their hands,” she said.
The construction was overseen by Wesley Partin, construction manager for Northeast Mississippi’s branch of Habitat for Humanity.
He said the average cost of building a house was around $30,000, but many local businesses donated materials.
“We don’t start building until we have a specific family who is going to live in it,” he said. “In this case, the family already owned the lot and the house on it, but the house was condemned. So we didn’t have to buy the property.”
The family set to inhabit the house is required to put in 300 hours of work themselves, 200 of which have to be on someone else’s house.
This is called “sweat equity.”
When Williams graduates, Vice President Caitlin Bailey will step into the role. Though Williams will leave some big shoes to fill, Bailey is excited.
“We’re going to get the ball rolling on the next one,” she said. “Hopefully, we’ll get even more students involved.”