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By Shea Staskowski
Each spring, college students from around the nation head to Starkville for the building of the annual Apostlesâ€™ House.
The Apostlesâ€™ Houses are sponsored by area churches, who donate money for building supplies, and college students from other universities in other states spend their spring break helping build the home.
â€śJust as Jesus chose apostles, we thought that Habitat would be a good name for a ministry that all the churches could do together.Â We decided to name the Spring house each year the Apostlesâ€™ House,â€ť said Peggy Branch, Habitat for Humanity office manager.Â â€śSince Habitat is a Christian ministry, and just as Jesus chose the Apostles to send out His message, we want our message to go out through the churches.â€ť
This yearâ€™s recipient of the Apostlesâ€™ House is the Shed family. Bobby and Lywanda Shed have two sons, DeAndre, 20, and Termaine, 18.
Lywanda is on oxygen part-time and has some disabilities in her legs, which renders her unable to work, but she takes pride in doing all she can to take care of her family. Termaine has cerebral palsy. Bobby works at Starkville Ford detailing cars and has a passion for helping others.
Currently, the Sheds live in a two bedroom, one bathroom apartment with mold problems, which affects Lywandaâ€™s breathing. Habitat reports that the Sheds are anxiously awaiting the completion of their new home at 29 Greenwood Street.
â€śItÂ has become apparent, stabilizing families benefitsÂ not only the parents, but also the children and generations to come,â€ť Branch said.Â â€śThe community is improved and volunteers have an opportunity to help other people â€” a win win for all.â€ť
Rockford College students from Rockford, Ill. will be the first volunteer group to help make the Shedâ€™s dream come true. They have taken part in the Collegiate Challenge for 16 years and will make the 14 hour trek to be apart of the ground breaking of the forty-fifth Starkville Habitat home this Sunday.
More than 30 Rockford College students will be spending their spring break building the Apostlesâ€™ House, but to them, it is a spring break well spent.
â€śEach year that I return to Starkville, I am blown away at what can happen in less than seven days,â€ť said Patrick Young, Rockford alumnus who is returning for his eleventh Collegiate Challenge. â€śLives are changed on this trip â€” not just the Habitat recipient family, but also each individual walks away a different person. They walk away with new friends, new experiences and a sense of accomplishment.â€ť
â€śAs a co-curricular activity of Rockford College, the Alan Hutchcroft Alternative Spring Break fulfills the collegeâ€™s mission to prepare students for fulfilling lives, careers and participation in a modern and changing global society,â€ť said Robin Kenney, alternative spring break coordinator.Â â€śStudents apply what has been inspired in the classroom, build leadership skills and learn the value of service to others outside the classroom. Each spring, Rockford continues the tradition by serving the Starkville community through work with Habitat for Humanity.â€ť
When the Rockford College students arrive Sunday, they will be greeted with nothing more than a concrete slab and a pile of building supplies. Their challenge is to have shingles on the roof by the end of the seventh day.
â€śWeather depending, Rockford has met this challenge most years,â€ť Kenney said. â€śArriving on Sunday to a slab of cement and a stack of wood can be overwhelming at first, especially to those who are participating in the Collegiate Challenge for the first time. Watching the coordination of walls being raisedâ€”one after anotherâ€”is a feeling that is not easy to describe.â€ť
After Rockford leaves, three more universities will follow through April 23, which will complete the Collegiate Challenge.
The ground breaking on the Apostlesâ€™ House will be held Sunday at 4 p.m. at 29 Greenwood Street.