By Peggy Hampton
JACKSON – Two years ago, when Polly Hammett drove down Greenview Drive in south Jackson for the first time, she cried.
“Today, I smile,” she said.
This is due, in great part, to the hard work and commitment of Polly and many other volunteers from Catholic churches in Hinds, Madison and Rankin counties, who have given of their time and resources to help revitalize a decaying, blighted street.
The Catholic community in the metro Jackson area has played a significant role in the transformation by partnering with Habitat for Humanity Mississippi Capital Area on the first two houses built on the street – the Pope Francis House and the 2015 Catholic Build House – followed by the 2016 Catholic Build House and now the 2017 Catholic Build House.
The goal is two-fold — to help a local family in need of a decent, safe, affordable place to live and to transform a street filled with blighted, decaying and abandoned homes into a beautiful, safe neighborhood where working families live, grow and thrive.
Habitat has acquired 31 properties on Greenview Drive, demolished 18 derelict houses and built 13 homes on the street. The 2017 Catholic Build home is among four additional homes being built this fall. More Habitat builds are planned for 2018.
“I am tickled to see the progress made on Greenview Drive,” Polly said. “I see change, and I see hope.”
The 2017 Catholic Build Habitat House will be purchased with a no-interest mortgage by Khadijah and Xavier Ransom. Khadijah and Xavier, both 23, are a married couple with two children – Xavier Jr., 4, and younger brother Kayden, 1.
“When Xavier and I were dating and started to become serious about getting married, we began talking about and making plans to become Habitat homeowners,” said Khadijah. “Now that we have good, stable jobs and can afford a mortgage, we are thrilled to be partnered with Catholic Build on the building of our home.”
Khadijah is a licensed cosmetologist at a local salon, while Xavier is employed as a car salesman. The family of four has been living in a tiny 1-bedroom, 1-bath apartment with roof leaks, insect problems and an unreliable HVAC system. Their new Habitat home will have a modern HVAC system that is efficient and cost-effective, new energy efficient appliances, lots of space and a yard where the children can play.
The Ransoms have been working alongside of the Catholic Build volunteers in building their new home, something Catholic volunteers have been doing for many years.
Every fall, parishes in the Jackson area pool resources and volunteers to build a Habitat house for a family. This is the 32nd year for Catholic churches to partner with Habitat. Partner parishes include Flowood St. Paul, Madison St. Francis of Assisi, Clinton Holy Savior, Gluckstadt St. Joseph, the Catholic Diocese of Jackson, and the following Jackson churches: St. Therese, the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle, St. Richard and Christ the King as well as St. Dominic’s Health Services.
The Catholic Build volunteers have been dedicated in their efforts throughout the years and are motivated by service and love of others.
JACKSON – Catholic Build volunteer Allen Scott of Clinton Holy Savior Parish works alongside Khadijah Ransom, who with her husband Xavier will become owners of the 2017 Catholic Build. (Photos by Peggy Hampton)
JACKSON– Voulunteers raise the roof trusses on the new Habitat for Humanity home on Greenview Drive in South Jackson.
“There is a real sense of accomplishment and community by working together to take pieces and parts of building materials and put them together to become a house,” said Allen Scott of Holy Savior.
Polly agreed, noting that a wonderful byproduct of the process is the laughter, love and good time shared by the volunteers.
“The houses we build are constructed with labor and laughter,” she said.
The 2017 Catholic Build house is built in memory of Sister Therese J. Jacobs, BVM, a pastoral minister at St. Richard Parish in Jackson from 1987-2001 and 2010-15. Sister Therese, who passed away in April, was a longtime supporter and advocate of Catholic Build and Habitat for Humanity Mississippi Capital Area.
“As many who knew Sister Therese have noted, she was a woman with a vivacious nature, energy and enthusiasm for her work, community, love of life, and her love of God,” said Raymond Barry, a member of St. Richard and longtime Catholic Build volunteer. “The spirit of giving and love of life and God demonstrated by the Catholic Build volunteers is a wonderful way to remember and honor Sister Therese.”
(Peggy Hampton is the Public Relations, Marketing Fundraising Coordinator for Habitat for Humanity Mississippi Capital Area.)