Local Church Helps To Build A Family's Dream

For about five years now, 19-year-old Shinto Finklea has lived in Habitat Village with his uncle.

He says this is the first real home he and his brothers and sisters have ever lived in, and it has made a big difference to all of them.

"Like towards their attitudes and their respecting other people, that changed a lot. They are not as bad as they used to be," said Finklea.

Homes like this one have brought smiles to at least 10 families in Gulfport's Habitat Village.

The national goal of Habitat For Humanity is to bring smiles to millions of other people by building them affordable homes by the end of the year.

Thanks to one local church, one woman will become part of that million by the end of the summer.

Habitat For Humanity, along with help from members of Greater Mount Olive Baptist Church in Gulfport, held a groundbreaking ceremony for the future new addition to Habitat Village.

In about 12 weeks, this site will simply be known as Joann Smith's home.

"The first thing came to my mind was thank God. I didn't have to worry about these expensive rental payments that I have been paying and that I would finally have my own home for me and my children," said Smith.

Rev. Phillip McSwain wanted his congregation to do something to help the community, so Wednesday afternoon's ceremony was just as exciting for them as it was for Ms. Smith.

"We're very excited and we feel it's just a blessing for us to lend a helping hand as it is for her to receive," said McSwain.

And it is that type of spirit that has carried the organization for nearly 30 years. Representatives hope that spirit will continue for years to come.

"We're looking forward to it being raised and all that, just fabulous," said Harrison County Habitat For Humanity executive director Bill Maguire.

Since the beginning of the Harrison County chapter of Habitat For Humanity back in 1987, 33 homes have been built for South Mississippi families.