Diversity and Community Engagement

The University of Mississippi

Community Chat – Michael Gerberi

“You don’t need to look outside the county, the state, or even the country to aid the poor; they’re our neighbors.” -Michael Gerberi

Michael Gerberi joins us for this episode of Community Chats to talk about how Habitat for Humanity is helping aid an ever-growing need for affordable housing. He discusses some of the challenges local chapters of Habitat are facing and the greatest rewards that come from the work they do. Tune in to learn more about what Habitat does and how you can get involved and support local projects.

After living all over the country while enlisted in the U.S. Navy and running a medical practice in Illinois, Michael Gerberi retired in Oxford in 2015 to be central to his family. He volunteers at Baptist Hospital where his colleagues suggested he get involved with Habitat, and after a year he took the position of president. Michael says he does the work because he sees the need in the community. “It’s astonishing to see these living conditions of people in our community,” Michael says. Michael ends the episode by putting out a call to the community – students especially – to give their time and talents to those in need in our community. “These people are our neighbors,” Michael says, urging community members to recognize the need in their own back yard.

Habitat is a national nonprofit that builds and restores homes for those in need. This includes families, elderly citizens, and areas affected by natural disasters. The Lafayette County Habitat for Humanity affiliate focuses on those with fixed and limited incomes such as the elderly and households with multiple or itinerant residents. One of the biggest challenges they currently face, besides sufficient funding, is the lack of available and affordable land. To offset this issue, Habitat has reverted to restoring existing homes in the county. Their workforce is heavily dependent on volunteers, most of whom are provided by the Knights of Columbus. However, Michael mentions the hard work of student volunteers and urges more students to provide Habitat with their talents.

You can visit the national website at habitat.org and contact the local affiliate at oxfordhabitat@gmail.com or (662)380-3343. Ask about applications if you are in need or learn how to become a volunteer.

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Listen to the podcast episode.