The Mays family -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

The Mays family


Laughter in the house

The Mays family might as well be a traveling comedy troupe with all the joking and ribbing that swirls throughout their conversations.

Ask the father, Lawrence, how many pets the family has at their current rental home, and he asks: “Can we count the rats?”

“I was sitting in the living room watching television, and one of the rats ran out of the wall, and stopped and looked right at the TV,” Mays said. “He looked back at us and then ran back into the wall. I said, ‘I guess that wasn’t the show he wanted to watch.’”

Ask the mother, Joyce, where she’s from, and the rest of the clan starts shouting, “Yankee! Yankee!” Mays grew up in Louisiana, and his wife hails from Iowa.

It’s a tight-knit family, including 19-year-old Zackery, 15-year-old Alex and 9-year-old Lauren. Zackery just graduated from high school and is looking for a job as an electrician. Alex wants to fly in the Air Force. Lauren is the math genius; she wants to be a veterinarian or an astronaut.

Aside from the jokes, the family enjoys fishing and movie outings. And everyone has a passion for animals. In fact, the Mayses met when they were both working in LSU’s medical research department. She was a biomedical researcher, and he took care of all the animals that were used in the research program.

“We love animals,” Mays said. “Over the years we’ve had pigs, cats, dogs—oh, lots of dogs: Rottweilers, German shepherds, a chow, a Great Dane, three-legged beagle, basset hound.”

When they’ve had a “quality dog,” they’ve even entered them in dog shows. “That basset hound was a female, and she won ‘Best of Breed’ when we entered her over all those other males,” Mays said.

The family is thankful they will soon have a new house. The Mayses had owned their own home for 14 years, but it was destroyed in a fire in 2008. Times have been tough for them since then, and they couldn’t even attempt to rebuild where they had previously lived.

“We’re excited that we’ll have a home again,” Lawrence said. “A home. Not just a house to stay in.”