MSU, Habitat for Humanity dedicate eighth Maroon Edition home

Mississippi State University Director of Student Leadership and Community Engagement Cade Smith (far left) and assistant director Meggan Franks (far right), present a handmade t-shirt quilt to Habitat for Humanity partner family Lena and LaShay Evans. The quilt is designed to help the Evans family remember the MSU students that worked on their home. PHOTO: James Carskadon | Public Affairs

Mississippi State University and Starkville Area Habitat for Humanity officially welcomed Lena and LaShay Evans into their new home earlier this month.

Habitat for Humanity and university officials held a dedication ceremony Jan. 6 for the Evans’ new house, marking the completion of the eighth MSU Maroon Edition Home. The house was built by volunteers, including MSU students, faculty, staff and retirees.

“I'm very proud of this home, and I'm very happy to be in it,” Lena Evans said.

Lena and her daughter, LaShay, are set to move into the home on Owens Street from their trailer outside Starkville’s city limits. The move allows the Evans to improve their living conditions and live closer to their jobs. Lena Evans has worked as a cook for the First United Methodist Church day care for over 10 years, while LaShay works at a convenience store on Highway 182. Previously, a neighbor drove the Evans to work. Now they will be able to walk or take a shuttle to work.

The Habitat home is part of the service-learning component of the Maroon Edition First-Year Reading Experience, which encourages students to read a common book. The 2016 Maroon Edition book is “Three Little Words: A Memoir” by Ashley Rhodes-Courter. MSU’s Maroon Volunteer Center helped coordinate student groups and individuals that volunteered to help build the house.

“MSU is glad to partner with Habitat for Humanity to provide a transformative experience for the Evans, as well as the student volunteers that have the opportunity to understand what partnership is, understand what hard work is and investing in something that is important,” MSU Director of Student Leadership and Community Engagement Cade Smith said.

As part of the dedication ceremony, the Evans family was presented with a Bible, a handmade quilt, a prayer shawl and a homeowner’s manual. Built across the street from last year’s Maroon Edition house, the Evans’ new home marks the completion of Starkville Area Habitat for Humanity’s 61st home.

“Habitat for Humanity continues to provide the opportunity for bridges to be built between people of different cultural backgrounds, faith communities and socioeconomic groups,” Starkville Habitat Board President Tim Muzzi said. “Working side by side, these groups make neighborhood renewal and economic stability for each family a real possibility.”

For more on the Maroon Edition program, visit

For more on the Maroon Volunteer Center, visit

For more on Starkville Area Habitat for Humanity, visit.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

James Carskadon | Public Affairs

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