Building a Future with Habitat for Humanity

Building a home for Habitat for Humanity

Cadence Bank has come alongside Habitat for Humanity across Mississippi to help families in need obtain affordable housing.

Owning a home can be an unattainable dream for some, but Habitat for Humanity, along with Cadence Bank’s help, is making the dream a reality for more people in Mississippi.

Habitat for Humanity’s vision, according to the Habitat website, is to build strength, stability and self-reliance by partnering with families in need of affordable housing. Homeowners work with Habitat, helping build their own homes alongside volunteers and then paying an affordable mortgage.

In Mississippi, Cadence Bank has provided funding to make affordable housing possible. Cadence donated $100,000 to the Northeast Mississippi Habitat for Humanity in early 2022. Additionally, with the company’s $50,000 donation to Starkville Habitat for Humanity, a house was built and named after Cadence Executive Vice Chairman Paul Murphy. The company also provided financial support in 2022 to these Mississippi Habitat organizations:

  • Habitat for Humanity of the Capital City Area
  • Habitat for Humanity of the Mississippi Gulf Coast
  • Habitat for Humanity of the Pine Belt
  • Pontotoc County Habitat for Humanity
  • Warren County Habitat for Humanity

“If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the last few years as a society, it’s the importance of quality, available housing and its significant impact on families and communities,” says Martie North, director of community development and engagement for Cadence Bank. “Habitat has been providing these vital services for numerous years. We’re proud to support Habitat for Humanity’s initiatives, which make a meaningful difference in many lives.”

Cadence and Habitat for Humanity’s long partnership

North says in addition to financial contributions, the bank’s partnership with Habitat has evolved to include spots on the organization’s board and building assistance from employee volunteers, which is at the heart of Habitat’s work.

“That holistic approach is truly a success story,” North says. “By connecting to the heads, hearts and minds of individuals, it speaks well to the values of our company.”

Among these values that Cadence Bank displays through its involvement with Habitat are to value relationships and do right by others and to answer the need for decent, safe and affordable housing.

According to Mary Ann Plasencia, executive director of the Northeast Mississippi Habitat for Humanity, Cadence’s commitment to its values is evident in the bank’s relationship with her local chapter, which spans several decades.

“We’ve had the fortune of having Cadence, formerly BancorpSouth, as a partner for the last 30 years,” she says. “At the beginning, this partnership primarily centered around mortgage servicing for our loans and has now led to grant awards in recent years. In addition, Cadence offers financial literacy and homeownership courses to our future homeowners and now provides build-day volunteers on our build sites. Helping families realize affordable home ownership requires robust corporate partnerships. We appreciate that Cadence is an excellent example to other organizations in our region.”

North noted the bank’s significant contributions to Habitat for Humanity in 2022 speak to its commitment to supporting our teammates and the causes they’re passionate about. Two Cadence teammates, Ketra Ruff, senior vice president and branch group sales manager, and Albine Bennett, director of Environmental Social & Governance Operations, serve on Northeast Mississippi Habitat for Humanity’s board of directors. Ruff is currently the board president for the local Habitat chapter.

How Habitat helped one family build their dreams

Plasencia shared one success story about the difference homeownership can make.

With encouragement from her father, one woman applied to the Habitat for Humanity program. She put in 300 hours of sweat equity, building other families’ homes and participating in financial literacy and homeownership courses.

“She and her family moved into their new home in August 2021,” Plasencia says. “She has had a long career of 26 years as a forklift operator and has recently begun a new career as a truck driver. The very first time she went to one of the Cadence branches to pay her mortgage, she said, ‘It felt so good to be paying the bills on my own home finally!’”

Other ways Cadence Bank is helping Habitat fill needs

Besides giving financially to Habitat for Humanity and servicing its mortgages, Cadence Bank also offers financial literacy and homeownership classes to future homeowners.

“One of the misperceptions that many people have is that it’s a free house,” North says. “It’s not. They have mortgages, so you must ensure the individuals can afford them. It’s important to ensure the people are equipped and ready for the responsibility of home ownership.”

North added: “We also spread the word of the availability and importance of Habitat and of the wonderful work they’re doing. Our teammates are very engaged across Mississippi and beyond in ensuring we provide our technical assistance and skills to help organizations like Habitat be the strongest they possibly can be.”

Cadence Bank teammates get involved in building houses

The building doesn’t stop with the families, and Cadence’s involvement doesn’t end at the company’s door. Cadence teammates pitch in to build homes for Habitat. For example, in Tupelo, Mississippi, teams of employees from Cadence worked several days installing the framing and sheetrock for multiple houses.

“Those of us who can do so tackle whatever tasks we can. Even if you’re not handy with a hammer, knowing that you are doing something to help is extremely satisfying,” North says. “Plus, it’s an opportunity for team building and helps increase the awareness of Habitat’s work among team members.’’

The future of the Cadence-Habitat for Humanity partnership

Cadence Bank and Habitat for Humanity hope to build on recent success in the Mississippi area for future projects.

“It takes quite a bit of money to pull a house together, from acquiring the land to building the house,” North says, “so the $100,000 investment in Tupelo, Mississippi, is a significant partnership and show of support.”

Plasencia says one project for 2023 will be a Bankers’ Build, partnering with area banks to sponsor and help one family build the home they’ve long dreamed of.

North says the relationship will remain strong.

“The soil is rich with opportunities,” she says. “We’ll definitely continue with board service, financial literacy and helping Habitat for Humanity realize its vision of providing affordable homes to families in need.”

Cadence Bank is proud to support Habitat for Humanity and its work in Mississippi. To learn more about how we’re helping people, companies and communities prosper, visit our Stories page.


This article is provided as a free service to you and is for general informational purposes only. Cadence Bank makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of the content in the article. The article is not intended to provide legal, accounting or tax advice and should not be relied upon for such purposes.

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