Habitat for Humanity has expanded its home-building ministry in the metro Jackson area and with that new expansion comes a new name.

Habitat for Humanity/Metro Jackson has absorbed the Madison County Habitat affiliate. To denote the larger service area, the affiliate also is changing its name to:

The announcement of the expansion and name change was made Sept. 5 as the local non-profit's Board of Directors and staff gathered to say thank you to longtime donors and volunteers at a special luncheon.

"We are celebrating two milestones that will allow us to expand and sustain our work in the metro Jackson area and brighten the futures of more families by providing them a safe, decent place to call home," said Cindy Griffin, executive director.

"The acquisition of the Madison County affiliate and continued expansion of construction in Rankin and Hinds counties led our Board of Directors to seek a name change for our affiliate which better represents the area we serve," Griffin said.

The Madison County affiliate - initially chartered as the Canton affiliate in 1996 - was responsible for the building of 16 homes in the Canton area. Dr. Susan Buttross, president of the all volunteer Madison County affiliate's Board of Directors from 2011 to 2013, said, "We realized it was time to join hands and forces with the metro Jackson affiliate and its staff of professionals. Working together, we can accomplish more."

In 27 years, Habitat for Humanity Mississippi Capital Area has partnered with over 560 families to build homes in the Jackson area. "We are in the top 1% of the 1,500 Habitat affiliates nationally - ranking 12th in production and 21st overall," Griffin said. "One of the best examples of our having made a difference can be found in the Englewood Gardens area of west Jackson - an area that had been a dumping ground for old furniture, garbage, and animal carcasses and a haven for nefarious activities. In less than two years, Habitat and its volunteers and community partners transformed this area into a model neighborhood of 29 Habitat homes. Our philosophy stays the same - giving families in need of decent housing a hand up, not a hand out, by providing them a new home with a zero interest mortgage."

Griffin said the local Habitat for Humanity affiliate - whose service area now includes Hinds, Rankin and Madison counties -- is also an economic engine for the metro Jackson area. "For every dollar spent in 2012 on Habitat for Humanity construction, an additional $1.70 was generated into the local economy, a 70% return on investment," she said. "This investment now impacts Madison County as well as our current service areas."

To kick off the expansion, Nissan of North America/Canton has committed to building a house in Canton in 2014. A "welcome to Madison County party" is also being held in late September to raise funds for construction of new Habitat for Humanity homes there.

Griffin has been meeting with Habitat for Humanity homeowners in Canton, Mayor Arnel Bolden, the Canton Rotary Club, and MadCAAP, and she has been warmly received.

For more information or to volunteer or donate, please contact Habitat for Humanity Mississippi Capital Area at 601-353-6060 or visit www.habitatjacksonorg.