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Firefighters volunteer to build new home for Mississippi family

The Hotshots team with Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity: (kneeling, from left) Wade Irish and Jonathan Garrelts; (second row, from left) William Hudson, Jermaine Kelly, Henry Jackson and Marcia Weaver; (back row, from left) Anthony Ashalintubbi, Slade Exley, Robert White, Ryan Hagenah, Jaye Germany, Lamar Liddell, Justin Hodges, Josh Hampton and Fred Ashford.

The Hotshots team with Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity: (kneeling, from left) Wade Irish and Jonathan Garrelts; (second row, from left) William Hudson, Jermaine Kelly, Henry Jackson and Marcia Weaver; (back row, from left) Anthony Ashalintubbi, Slade Exley, Robert White, Ryan Hagenah, Jaye Germany, Lamar Liddell, Justin Hodges, Josh Hampton and Fred Ashford.

 

The only U.S. Bureau of Land Management firefighting crew east of the Mississippi River volunteered in April on a Thrivent Build project with Habitat for Humanity Mississippi Capital Area. Since their formation in 1997, the Jackson Hotshots have fought disastrous wildfires from Alaska to Florida. In addition, they have assisted with search and recovery in several national emergencies, including ground zero after 9/11, the space shuttle Columbia crash and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

“[Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity] was a perfect fit for our Hotshots crew,” said firefighter Fred Ashford. “We are very happy to be able to give back to our community. Helping others is core to our mission, and getting to work outdoors was just a bonus.”

Thrivent Financial local representative Jaye E. Germany said his team has enjoyed building with the Hotshots.

“Working in partnership with Habitat families to help them build their homes is an inspiring experience,” he said. “We also enjoy working alongside volunteers like the Hotshots who generously donate their time and talents to strengthen our community.”

New home gives new hope to McGowan family


Hotshots team leader Lamar Liddell at the site.

The Hotshots worked on the foundation and structure of the 1,000-square-foot home that will belong to Rosalyn McGowan. McGowan, who also is helping to build the house, said she and her children can hardly wait to move in.

“I drive my children by the build site every day. We are so excited,” McGowan said, adding that the Habitat, Thrivent Financial and Hotshots volunteers “are as excited as I am!”

That’s certainly true of Stacia DeWitt from Thrivent Financial, who drove over from Little Rock, Arkansas, to volunteer for a day.

“Habitat is such a great organization and cause,” she said. “I am glad I could help out.”

Hotshots team leader Lamar Liddell felt the same way.

“Being part of the Jackson Hotshots is like being in a family. So having the opportunity to help build a home with a Habitat partner family is very rewarding,” he said. “Any time we can come together, work hard and see our accomplishment, we are blessed.”

McGowan, 32, and her three children — Jasmine, 13; Jamia, 11; and Joseph, 8 — will leave behind a three-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment that has faulty electrical outlets, nonworking light switches and a bathroom sink that doesn’t drain. The walls of the apartment have such huge holes, the family can see into a neighbor’s unit. In winter, McGowan has to use a space heater to keep the family warm; and in summer, she places fans in the hallways and bedrooms to supplement her one window air conditioner.

McGowan said she will become the first in her family of six siblings to own a home. After having lived in apartments all her life, she said, she is most looking forward to the privacy of a home and yard where her children can play.

“I am ready for all the responsibility that comes along with owning a home. I never dreamed I would be able to own a home, especially at this point in my life.”