updated 2/1/2011 3:46:44 PM ET 2011-02-01T20:46:44

PICAYUNE, Miss., Feb. 1, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Pearl River County Habitat for Humanity (HFH) is ready to make good use of $20,000 in Partnership Grant Program (PGP) funds it received from BankPlus and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB Dallas).

Pearl River County HFH plans to use the partnership grant to break its Blitz Build record by completing a home in 41 hours, according to Donna Fischer, Pearl River County HFH executive director.

In a blitz build, Habitat volunteers construct an entire home from start to finish over a short period of time. The cost to build a home in less than 41 hours is $50,776, according to Ms. Fischer's calculations, and with the help of the partnership grant, volunteers from BankPlus, and student volunteers and donations from Villanova University, the organization hopes to achieve its goal.

"I couldn't even entertain the thought of doing this without the partnership grant funds," Ms. Fischer said.

Partnership grants are offered through FHLB Dallas member institutions, such as BankPlus, and awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. The grants provide funding for operational needs of community-based organizations involved in affordable housing and community development. FHLB Dallas matches a member's cash contributions to a community-based organization of $500 up to $5,000 at a 3:1 ratio.

BankPlus has been a valued partner of Pearl River County HFH for many years, assisting the organization in building 11 homes in its Genesis Village project since 2006. The Blitz Build home will be the 12th new home in that neighborhood. The organization learned about the partnership grants through Lisa Keene, a vice president and banking center manager for BankPlus.

"Lisa Keene is a very instrumental part of our community," Ms. Fischer said. "She usually puts a team of BankPlus staff together and they come out to work on the house or participate in the various other jobs we have, such as bringing food to volunteers, providing water, or assisting with traffic control. Lisa has always made sure that participants come out to help."

The partnership grant and the support of BankPlus will assist Pearl River County HFH in fulfilling its goals this year.

"Our Habitat affiliate is very small compared to other Mississippi Gulf Coast affiliates that have access to more funds," Ms. Fischer said. "We're doing very well to build two homes a year. That's our goal, and if it wasn't for BankPlus, we wouldn't be building anything."

Through its member institutions, FHLB Dallas awarded $225,000 through its PGP in 2010. Another $225,000 is being offered through member institutions in 2011.

Ms. Keene knows first-hand the impact the partnership grant funds will have on Pearl River County HFH. She was treasurer of the organization for three years before stepping down from the board.

"These funds will be such a big help to the Habitat organization," Ms. Keene said. "Pearl River County HFH relies strictly on fundraising."

And while the county was hit hard by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Pearl River County HFH has continued to build.

 "Until you get involved with Habitat you don't realize how much work goes into everything the organization does," Ms. Keene said. "Everything they do is done in the spirit of trying to help people in the county have decent and affordable housing. The organization has built Genesis Village and changed the entire look of the street. I'm glad BankPlus can be a part of that."

Pearl River County HFH plans to hold its Blitz Build on March 11-12, 2011. For more information on the PGP and FHLB Dallas's other grant programs, please check the Community Investment section of the FHLB Dallas website periodically at fhlb.com/community/.

About BankPlus

BankPlus, with total assets of more than $2.2 billion, has over 60 banking offices in 33 Mississippi communities. In addition to its Belzoni Main Office, other BankPlus offices are located in Bentonia, Brandon, Byram, Canton, Clinton, D'Iberville, Durant, Flora, Flowood, Gluckstadt, Hernando, Holly Bluff, Horn Lake, Isola, Jackson, Lexington, Madison, Meridian, Newton, Ocean Springs, Olive Branch, Pearl, Picayune, Pickens, Poplarville, Quitman, Ridgeland, Shubuta, Southaven, Stonewall, Tchula, Waynesboro and Yazoo City. For additional information on BankPlus, please visit www.bankplus.net .

About the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas

The Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas is one of 12 district banks in the FHLBank System created by Congress in 1932.  FHLB Dallas, with total assets of $51.6 billion as of September 30, 2010, is a member-owned cooperative that supports housing and community development by providing competitively priced loans and other credit products to more than 900 members and associated institutions in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Texas.  For more information, visit the FHLB Dallas website at fhlb.com.

The Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas logo is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=3013

CONTACT: Corporate Communications
         Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas
         (214) 441-8445

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