Fuller Center General

By Chris Johnson
Director of communications

Sorry if I got that old Disney tune stuck in your head, but the song “It's a Small World After All” actually means something to me now other than just being the hold music the bank used to play when I'd call to check on my checking account balance.

One thing I didn't expect when I joined The Fuller Center for Housing in June was that this ministry had the power to shrink the world. And I mean that in a good way, not in a “I can't believe you washed this in hot water” kind of shrinking way.

I've met folks from such places as Sierra Leone, Iraq, Peru, Armenia and even Idaho since I came on board. That's part of the way The Fuller Center has shrunk the world for me. Another is that I'm constantly getting pictures and updates from places we work like Haiti, India, Nepal and even Idaho.

But one of the main ways The Fuller Center has shrunk the world for me is by giving me a boss who has been in more countries than Evel Knievel has broken bones.

I realized once again just how well-traveled Fuller Center President David Snell is compared to me when I was interviewing him about our work in Nepal for a recent story. (You can read the in-depth story by clicking here.) I asked him how many times he'd been to Nepal, and his response was “two or three times.”

By Chris Johnson
Director of communications

Among the many folks on the road to Americus, Ga., for the fourth annual covenant partner conference is Bob Barker. No, not the former host of “The Price Is Right.” This Bob Barker directs one of our newest Fuller Center covenant partners in the United States -- in Joplin, Mo.

Joplin was hit by one of the most devastating tornadoes in American history last year, leveling the town and killing more than 140 people. As with many disasters, aid swooped in and it's still fresh on everyone's minds. However, it will disappear from too many people's radars, and that's why we're glad to have a covenant partner there to stick around through the long process of rebuilding.

Fortunately, Joplin hasn't quite slipped off the radar, as Bob pointed out today as he was on the way to Americus. (I hope you weren't texting and driving, Bob!) Joplin's continuing plight will get plenty of publicity Friday night, Jan. 13, as ABC's hit “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” The show came to the tornado-ravaged community to give seven families new homes.

Hopefully the publicity generated by the show -- which is known for episodes that can bring the even the most stoic to tears -- will spur people to help Joplin even more. If people want to bring lasting help to Joplin, there are few better ways than to donate to the Joplin Fuller Center, which is now accepting donations online through our website. Click here to donate and designate your funds for the Joplin Fuller Center.

By Chris Johnson
Director of communications

Before this past October, I'd never set foot in the state of Louisiana. Now, it seems like I hear more about Louisiana than about the greatest state in the nation. (That would be my home state of Georgia, by the way, in case you're keeping score.) Louisiana has its stamp all over my work lately and even all over my favorite sport, football.

We're having our covenant partner conference in Americus starting Friday, and I've found out that more than a dozen folks from Louisiana will be there. They include familiar faces like Charlie Park, who leads the Webster Parish Fuller Center that hosted the Legacy Build in Minden in October; Tamara Danel of Ginger Ford Northshore; and Lee Jeter, who leads the Northwest Louisiana Fuller Center in the Allendale community of Shreveport, one of our most amazing success stories. And, today, we announced that we've got a new covenant partner in New Iberia, La. I'm sure they'll add to the amazing track record of successes among our Louisiana covenant partners.

By Chris Johnson
Director of communications

Unlike so many folks I've met since I joined The Fuller Center for Housing, I didn't have a friendship, relationship or professional association with our founder, Millard Fuller, who would have turned 77 years old today.

I met him a couple of times during the mid-1990s when I worked at the Americus Times-Recorder newspaper. The only conversation I recall having was during a golf tournament in 1994 at the local Brickyard Golf Club, which hosted a Futures Tour event that benefited Habitat for Humanity when Fuller was at the helm of the organization.

Of course, he put his arm around me and talked to me as if it were the 200th conversation we'd had and we'd known each other since 1935. I'd like to think that I'm just that engaging of a human being, but apparently it was the other way around. Millard had the unique ability to not only change the lives of thousands of people but also to make each and every person he talked to, no matter which rung they occupied on the ladder of life, feel like the most important person in the room.

The next year, I was lucky enough the next year to have a conversation with another man who changed a lot of lives, former President Jimmy Carter. We met while playing softball at Plains Days or some event like that in his hometown. It was there I learned how the Secret Service serves as umpires when the president plays softball and, therefore, he NEVER strikes out no matter how many times he swings and misses.

Millard and I talked golf. President Carter and I talked baseball, Braves baseball to be exact. Neither man acted as if he were anything other than just another guy on the street. And neither acted as if I were anywhere below them on the ladder of life … even though I most definitely was.

By Chris Johnson
Director of communications

It was a bittersweet day here at the headquarters of The Fuller Center for Housing. It was communications specialist Leah Gernetzke's last day. Leah will be working as a volunteer with Jubilee Partners, which sprung from Koinonia Farm much like The Fuller Center did.

Jubilee is run by Don Mosley, who has a passion for peace and for helping people, especially those who have come to the United States from other countries seeking a better life for their families.

Leah will be remembered for many things around here. For being the coldest person to ever set foot in Louisiana … even though she's from Wisconsin, something she was reminded of about 27 times during the 2011 Legacy Build as she shivered underneath her hood and scarf while holding coffee with her gloves. For a flat tire that made her late for her own birthday party at the office … leading many young men to nearly injure themselves rushing to her aid. But, mainly, for being so quietly effective at doing so many different things.