Fuller Center General

By Leah Gernetzke
Communications specialist

Restoring water pipes, tile, cabinets, fixing drywall and replacing windows – that’s what’s on the agenda this week for students from the University of Cincinnati's volunteer group "Serve Beyond Cincinnati," who are rolling up their sleeves so Nelmile Walker and her granddaughter can move back home.

Ever since the pipes exploded in her house several months ago, flooding the kitchen and back rooms, Walker and her granddaughter have been living with Walker’s daughter in Americus.

Today was the first day of work on the home, and when I stopped by the site this morning, activity already abounded. The volunteers dragged out furniture and other personal items so they could start the renovation work. A roaring bonfire nearby served dual functions of keeping the volunteers warm in the chilly, damp December weather and consuming old pieces of unused furniture.

“I sure do appreciate y’all coming out here,” Walker said repeatedly, working side by side with the volunteers and with her daughter to renovate the home she’s lived in for more than a decade.

After a few months of vacancy, several critters took over the residence. A scream followed by a group of college girls running outside evidenced the presence of a rat, and a few cockroaches crawled around as well. A huge, sleepy-looking brown dog named Little Bear hovered outside by an old guitar, watching over the back-and-forth bustle.

By Chris Johnson
Director of communications

We had a Bunch of fun at Fuller Center headquarters yesterday … and not just because our work team made it safely to North Korea to begin a mission of home building and peacemaking that has garnered media attention worldwide. Granted, that was awesome, but that's not why we had a Bunch of fun with a capital B.

Gabrielle Bunch, who just turned 7 years old last week, is this year's “Junior Ambassador” and was in the office for the taping of a Christmas message that will be shared with all of our supporters and friends around the world.

Gabrielle was thrilled by the opportunity to talk about what the Fuller Center does. And let's face it, a cute 7-year-old in a festive red outfit is way more fun to listen to than I am. I'm a little past 7 years old and own no festive red outfits – which I blame exclusively for my lack of cuteness. You don't want to hear me talk about all the wonderful things we do.

By Chris Johnson
Director of communications

This seems to be a real moment of opportunity for peace in North Korea. Today, South Korea announced it was restoring aid to its rival to the north. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea), meanwhile, is demonstrating willingness to bend on its hard-line nuclear stances. And in the middle of all of this, six men from the United States are on a Fuller Center for Housing trip to build homes in the country. Read about it here.

This is a project like no other. American volunteers don't just hop in and out of North Korea. And it certainly has been no simple journey for our team. But they've stuck to the mission, a mission that it is about far more than houses.

Could the fact that we enter the country just as there seems to be a thaw in frigid relations between South Korea and the North – as well as the U.S. and North Korea – be divine influence? Maybe, perhaps, I dunno. But the simple fact that all this is happening right now is something to be thankful for, regardless.

Our mission to build homes and peace in North Korea was one of the last initiatives approved by our founder, Millard Fuller, and he was excited about its prospects. That we've seen this through, at least to the point of actually beginning the building, is satisfying for that reason alone, among the many other reasons.

By Chris Johnson
Director of communications

I'm glad to see that Peru has been added as the hub for the international component of the 2012 Millard Fuller Legacy Build during the week of Sept. 2-7. The following week, volunteers will converge on Henry County, Ga., just a couple hours up the road from our headquarters.

During the 2011 Legacy Build in Minden, La., I got to share a cabin with Zenon Colque, the ambitious and dedicated leader of our covenant partner in La Florida, Peru. He made no secret of his desire to be a host for this event.

“To have the Legacy Build in Peru is our dream, because we can move not just visitors from the U.S. and other countries, but from Peru,” Zenon told my colleague Leah Gernetzke for a story last month. “That’s what we need, that’s what we have to teach them – to help others. I’m sure that we can make it happen.”

I'm glad Zenon will get his wish.

Another Peruvian I met in Minden was Ana Tarazona. Unlike Zenon who speaks English well, Ana knows very little of the language beyond “hello” and “thank you.” But her amazing story translated into any language.

Our graphics guru Richard Aguirre came up with this great flyer to let people know how alternative giving allows you to recognize loved ones this holiday season and help lift families out of poverty housing at the same time. Please consider printing it out and putting up on the bulletin board at your church or office. CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD AND PRINT THE FLYER. And don't forget about our cool alternative giving Christmas card!