Nissan invests in community to aid family in homeownership

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The Primer family became proud homeowners thanks to Nissan and Habitat for Humanity Mississippi Capital Area. (Advocate photo by Joshua Martin)

On April 7, Shenika Primer’s toddler son excitedly played with freshly-laid straw outside of his newly built home, thanks to Habitat for Humanity Mississippi Capital Area (HFHMCA) and Nissan. During the dedication ceremony, the Primer family celebrated becoming homeowners with HFHMCA and Nissan staff and volunteers. 

“We’re extremely excited,” expressed Primer. “We have that forever home now. They have somewhere to go once they get older. They can always fall back on it.”

HFHMCA, Nissan, and the Primer family began building the home back in October 2021, becoming the fourteenth home that Nissan has sponsored through HFHMCA. “It’s amazing to see the stage of the home then and the fact that we’re turning over the keys to the occupants today,” noted Derek Polk, director engineering and maintenance of the Nissan-Canton Plant.

“Days like today are huge for us. It’s part of what we do,” Polk continued. “With each opportunity, it gets better because we’re blessing more people. “We want our communities to grow and to thrive and to be a part of the future. It’s stability. It’s longevity.” 

Nissan has contributed approximately $19 million to Habitat for Humanity nationwide. And in addition to sponsoring a new home for the Primer family, Nissan also gifted also a $500 Walmart gift card for them to purchase additional items for the home.

HFHMCA Executive Director Merrill Tenney McKewen expressed her gratitude for having community partners like Nissan. “Nissan is what we call the quintessential sponsor…the quintessential partner. We love working with Nissan. Nissan employees are incredibly hard workers. They show up on time and they stay the whole time. Without corporate sponsors like Nissan, we wouldn’t be able to offer the Primer family a zero interest, 30-year mortgage on a house that they worked very hard for.” 

Primer said, “Habitat worked with us to make sure I was ready to be a homeowner. And I volunteered hours [to build the house].” At the time of the house build, Primer was pregnant with her youngest child. 

She hopes that the energy efficient home will help her make “memories with my family, watching them grow, blossom, and learn new things.”

According to McKewen, HFHMCA has 17 employees and each one handles a different step in the process to build a home for a deserving family. She’s involved in the entire process but is most excited to hug the families and tell them, “Welcome home.”

If anyone is interested in applying for a Habitat home, please contact Ashley Avery at (601) 353-6060. McKewen says, “It’s not dependent upon credit scores. It dependents on other things so we would like people to apply. We want to help as many people as we can help. And with sponsors like Nissan and other people out there, we get to do this year after year. We’re now at about 660 houses in the tri-county area.”

If an organization, company, or individual would like to help sponsor a Habitat House, please contact Victoria Stein at (601) 353-6060.

Habitat for Humanity Mississippi Capital Area is a faith-based organization founded in 1986. Homeownership combined with Habitat’s required financial education allows these families to invest in our community and their future simultaneously.

Nissan Canton Vehicle Assembly Plant is celebrating 19 years of manufacturing operations in 2022. The plant employs approximately 5,000 people and has built nearly 5 million vehicles since opening in 2003. Nissan has four U.S. manufacturing facilities, with 400 U.S. parts and material suppliers.

DeAnna Tisdale Johnson has stepped into the role of publisher of her family legacy, the Jackson Advocate. Since March 2020, she has led the publication to once again become an award-winning newspaper with a new logo and website to boot. She is a Jackson native, graduating from Murrah High School and Tougaloo College. She is also classically trained in vocal performance, and, though she’s never broken a glass, she’s known to still hit a high note or two.

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Nissan invests in community to aid family in homeownership

By DeAnna Tisdale Johnson
April 19, 2022