Transitional Housing Ministry involves college artists, Americus community

Transitional Housing Ministry involves college artists, Americus community

The Sumter Area Ministerial Association has been helping homeless families find temporary places to stay for years. Recently, Evangelist Snipes, an involved member of SAMA, decided that short-term lodging was no longer enough.

Upon connecting with Kirk Lyman-Barner, director of the Americus-Sumter Fuller Center for Housing, Snipes grew her vision for a new ministry: a full-fledged non-profit providing homes for homeless families in Americus, with a maximum stay in the homes of two years. At the time, the only shelter in Americus could not accept families with children due to safety concerns, leaving these families with very few options.

Thus, the Americus-Sumter Transitional Housing Ministries, a registered 501(c)3 organization, was born. Families that are homeless in Americus are able to apply for lodging with the organization and are then given a mentor. The mentor helps them as they work to get a job, manage an income, and handle any personal problems they may be battling. So far, one home in Americus has been donated to the organization, with hopefully many more to come. 

“There is one family that I am mentoring; I first met the mom in jail years ago. We were able to get her housed, she has a job, she goes to church with me, she comes to meetings every week at my house. She had been living in her car with her five kids beforehand. They took turns on who got to be inside the car,” Snipes said of the organization’s early success.

The organization quickly drew community attention, piquing the interest of Georgia Southwestern State University Professor Keaton Wynn. Upon hearing that the houses were unfurnished, he saw a need, and wondered if his art students could help to fill it.

Wynn began designing a three-credit course for the art department at GSW. The class drew the attention of several students, who have spent the semester conducting spatial analyses of the homes, drawing sketches, and learning about the connection between art and social activism.

The students have created glassware, flatware, a coffee table, curtains, and more unique pieces to fill one of the homes for the ministry. Professor Justin Hodges refers to the creations as a “startup kit,” filling the basic needs of a family when they move into an empty home.

“These artists took the time and thought about the family and created something special for these folks — it’s just very uplifting. They are channeling their talents for good.” — Kirk Lyman-Barner, Director, Americus-Sumter Fuller Center for Housing

“It’s a diverse group of students, glassblowers and painters and ceramic workers and photographers. To see the students come together with challenging ideas outside of their typical mediums has been awesome,” Hodges said of the student’s range of backgrounds. The college is already discussing offering the class again next spring, and creating more startup kits for families in need.

Lyman-Barner has been thrilled at the community responses and desires to be involved in the organization. “These artists took the time and thought about the family and created something special for these folks — it’s just very uplifting. They are channeling their talents for good.”

And the interest hasn’t stopped with GSW. In fact, Lyman-Barner received an email just last week from Furlow Charter School, expressing their desire to build bookshelves and fill them with books for the kids.

If you are interested in getting involved with this organization, whether through donating property, building furniture, or something else, please contact the transitional housing advocates at (229) 942-9025.

Click here to learn more about Americus-Sumter Transitional Housing Ministries.

 

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Bike Adventure leader: Global Builders trip to Haiti further enhances perspective

Bike Adventure leader: Global Builders trip to Haiti further enhances perspective

Connor Ciment, Fuller Center Bike Adventure trip leader, has had a roller-coaster of a last two years. In fact, little in his life has remained the same, other than a love for his bicycle.

After graduating college in May of 2015, Ciment joined the Fuller Center Bike Adventure. “I loved riding my bike, and I was looking for a way to do it across the country,” he said. “I took a leap of faith, and jumped on the ride right out of college.”

Once on the ride, Ciment learned the trip leader position would be open. Already having fallen in love with the mission, Ciment “got really attached to what The Fuller Center does, especially how it does it.” Shortly thereafter, he committed to a year of service with the Fuller Center.

As a graduate of The University of Alabama with a degree in mechanical engineering, the physical act of building houses was attractive to Ciment. Reflecting on past builds he has worked on in America, he fondly remembers “where the whole group worked together as one body on one single project, especially alongside the homeowners.”

It didn’t take long, however, for Ciment to develop an interest in participating in a Global Builders trip internationally. Appropriately enough, it was a fellow cyclist that initiated his dream becoming a reality.

“Mike Oliphant, who rode the Natchez Trace with me in 2016, reached out to ask if I wanted to co-lead a Global Builders trip with him. I jumped at the chance.” After working out the details, the duo traveled to Pigñon, Haiti, last month

With the trip in the rear-view mirror, Ciment is even more deeply invested in The Fuller Center than he was before.

Ciment is quick to address the profound effect of cultural barriers on the experience: “Building in the US, it’s like having home-field advantage; you speak the language, you understand the culture. In Haiti, I didn’t speak the language, and I wasn’t necessarily aware of the full context of culture around me.”

Through the week, however, Ciment was impressed by the connections he and the team were able to form despite the barriers between them. “Through working side-by-side with somebody, you start to get to know them regardless of language and regardless of that cultural barrier. By the third day, there’s a certain silent ballet going on, you know each other well enough to work seamlessly without ever having spoken a sentence.”

Ciment reflects on the moment he began to integrate into the community around him. “Suez, a Haitian mason, was laying blocks, and he called for me to pick up a block for him. Instead of placing it for me, he let me place it in the mortar myself. It was kind of an extra step towards inviting me into a bigger portion of the building process, which was a really cool level of comfort that we reached together. Again, we still hadn’t spoken.”

“Through working side-by-side with somebody, you start to get to know them regardless of language and regardless of that cultural barrier.” — Connor Ciment

When asked if his week in Haiti affected how he saw the Fuller Center as a whole, Ciment didn’t hesitate. “Absolutely. You witness the dramatic impact you can have on a family’s life. It really brings me a lot of gratitude that I can be a part of such an organization.

“It also brings new meaning to the Bike Adventure, which is raising a lot of money. With this experience I can see infinitely more tangibly how impactful the fundraising is for folks in need, all over the world.”

Ciment left Haiti deeply impressed by the strong local Fuller Center leadership. “Gerald is doing an amazing job, and I am extremely proud to be working alongside him as his efforts go far beyond housing, most directly including education. The school that he is the principal for is churning out young leaders who will be the generation that continues to lift up Pigñon and lift up Haiti and bring it to be the healthy and prosperous country that it can be.”

Click here for more information on global builders

 

Disaster Rebuilders set up shop in Louisiana, encourage volunteers to join them

Disaster Rebuilders set up shop in Louisiana, encourage volunteers to join them

The Fuller Center Disaster ReBuilders are a fiercely dedicated group. That dedication is leading them to their newest location in 2017: Denham Springs, Louisiana.

Located just east of Baton Rouge, Denham Springs is a small, rural community that was heavily impacted by the disastrous flooding of last August. Bart Tucker, head of Disaster ReBuilders, has observed the damage firsthand, noting that “homes often look fine from the exterior, but the inside would have been flooded with 2-4 feet of water. Drywall, flooring, cabinets, it’s all ruined. It was a hurricane-sized disaster, no question about that.”

“The number of folks that will meet our qualifications is the highest that we’ve seen since Hurricane Katrina, and in contrast the publicity this storm has received has been the lowest that we’ve ever experienced,” says Tucker. The group selected Denham Springs largely due to the fact that it hadn’t received much assistance in the aftermath of the storm.

“It was a hurricane-sized disaster, no question about that.” — Bart Tucker, Fuller Center Disaster ReBuilders

Volunteers are set to arrive in Denham Springs on Feb. 19, and a local horse farm will host them. The farm’s bunkhouse can host 25 volunteers, has a fully equipped kitchen, a fellowship hall, and is surrounded by horses and beautiful scenery. Along with the horse farm opening its doors, Christ Community Church and South Walker Baptist Church are hosting volunteers, as well as cooking meals and supporting the teams during their time in Livingston Parish.

The relief effort will be taking place with the help of S.M.A.L.L Fuller Center, located in Walker, La., as well as Ginger Ford Northshore Fuller Center in Hammond. The Disaster ReBuilders have a track record of success working with Ginger Ford Northshore in the wake of disasters such as Hurricane Gustav (2008), Hurricane Katrina (2011) and Hurricane Isaac (2012).

If you are interested in serving with the Disaster ReBuilders in Denham Springs, more information and registration is available here.

VIDEO & PHOTO GALLERY: University of Cincinnati rehabilitate homes in Americus

VIDEO & PHOTO GALLERY: University of Cincinnati rehabilitate homes in Americus

Students from the University of Cincinnati are spending their week working with the Americus-Sumter Fuller Center for Housing. Their student organization, Serve Beyond Cincinnati, helped organize the trip. Thanks to everyone for your hard work! 

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Regular service-trip participant astounded by time spent with The Fuller Center of Armenia

Regular service-trip participant astounded by time spent with The Fuller Center of Armenia

When Carey and Rick White, a father-son duo from Texas, embarked on their recent trip to Armenia, they did not expect anything out of the ordinary from their regular service trips. Accompanied by friend Stewart Essey, the trio travelled full of excitement and wonder of visiting the world’s first Christian nation.

Carey, having travelled to Guatemala, Nicaragua, Peru, Sri Lanka and Ghana, was astounded by his experience with The Fuller Center in Armenia. “The hospitality was unmatched,” he said. “No family has ever treated us with that much soul.”

After the inspiring week, Carey plans to return to Armenia in 2017. 

Read the full story in
the frederick news-post

Americus project helps burglary victim have sense of security, added mobility

Americus project helps burglary victim have sense of security, added mobility

Emma Ruth Lewis of Americus has called the same house “home” for the last 30 years. However, the last three of those years have been less than perfect. Her home was burglarized, leaving her susceptible to future break-ins as the door would no longer shut properly. Since then, Emma has been afraid to be in the house alone. 

On top of that, as she aged her knees began deteriorating, leaving her nearly unable to climb the stairs into her home. 

Everything began to change for Emma when the Americus-Sumter Fuller Center became involved. With their help the home now has a ramp to ease her knee problems, new vinyl siding, a new water heater, and a secure door to deter future robberies. 

Her daughter, Renee Lewis, is moving out of the house this week. She is overjoyed knowing her mom will be safe without her there.

Local Fuller Center board member, Thad Harris — who also is a Fuller Center homeowner partner himself — says “By making the ramp, we’re making the house more accessible for her now.”

Showing the true compassion in the community, The Fuller Center wasn’t the only group involved with this home. As news spread of Emma Ruth’s situation, neighbors, community members, and the church congregation at Americus Holiness Deliverance Temple descended upon the home, helping in any way they were able.

When asked about why they felt drawn to this project, the team has reached a simple conclusion: Emma needed help, and they were able to provide that help. 

As for Emma, she rests easier knowing her home is now safe and accessible, and that the community is truly looking out for her.

To get a better look at the scene of the Lewis home, take a look at the video below! 

 

Americus woman transforms home into shelter for homeless veterans

Americus woman transforms home into shelter for homeless veterans

Annie Bell White-Moss is an Americus-grown woman. She grew up in town, went to the local high school, and ran her own business in town. Now, she has turned an old property of hers into something to give back to the community she loves so dearly: a shelter for homeless veterans. 

After finishing cosmetology school, Annie Bell noticed that the home two doors down from her was for sale. After purchasing the home, Annie Bell paid $50 a month to Mr. Clover, the previous homeowner. Annie Bell finished payments on the house after ten years and ran a beauty shop out of it for thirteen years. 

Eventually, Annie Bell’s beauty shop outgrew the house on Hampton, and relocated to a bigger property. The home sat empty for years, and eventually, the city moved to condemn it. That was when the house came back into Annie Bell’s life. 

Annie Bell’s husband, Charles Moss, passed away in November of 2015. “I decided to try to make it a veteran’s shelter in memory of him, because he was a navy veteran.”  After four months of work on the home including a new roof, new wiring, and new plumbing, the home is nearly ready for business. Annie Bell dedicated today as a visitation and dedication of the home, letting anyone who may need its resources know that it is available. 

Annie Bell is working with the town of Dublin, GA, to let the town’s homeless veterans know that resources are available for them in Americus. The local shelter in Americus is also sending overflow to Annie Bell. 

 

Bike Adventure unveils new ride: Weeklong Dirt to D.C. begins September 2017 in Pittsburgh

Bike Adventure unveils new ride: Weeklong Dirt to D.C. begins September 2017 in Pittsburgh

2017 was already shaping up to be the biggest year of the Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure ever. Now, considering this morning’s announcement of a new ride, it definitely will be!

Alongside three different summer routes, a spring ride down the Natchez Trace, and a weekend Silver Comet ride, the Bike Adventure is excited to announce an entirely new ride: Dirt to D.C.!

Dirt to D.C. (September 16 – 24, 2017) is a unique ride in many ways — primarily in that it will take place on unpaved roads. The weeklong ride will follow the Great Allegheny Passage and the Chesapeake and Ohio Towpath from Pittsburgh, Pa., to Washington D.C.

The 2016 Bike Adventure year set fundraising and participation records, raising $300,000 for the first time, as well as prompting a split into two rides to accommodate growing interest.

2017 will be the 10th year of the Bike Adventure, with a fundraising goal of $400,000. Help us raise our two-millionth dollar by participating as a cyclist, or donating to the cause!

learn more about dirt to d.c. here