Fuller Center General

By Chris Johnson
Director of communications

During my 22-plus years in the newspaper business, I learned that there's always more to the story. The more you dig, the more you learn.

Sometimes these are big stories that you dig into. If you keep peeling back the layers of a shady lobbyist's deals with a lawmaker of questionable morals, there will always be more layers. And there will always be more to the story. You can dig forever and never reach bottom. You just have to make the decision to eventually quit digging.

Of course, the same principle applies to positive stories. Charlie Park (whose wonderful radio voice still echoes in my head months after the 2011 Millard Fuller Legacy Build in Minden, La.) sent me a few pictures of a couple from Saginaw, Mich., who came to work this past weekend with the Webster Parish covenant partner he leads.

It didn't take much digging for Charlie and his broadcast journalist background to find out that this couple who decided to make a pit stop for a little volunteer work in Springhill, La., had a connection beyond merely having heard about the wonderful work of The Fuller Center for Housing in a newspaper, on Facebook or from a friend. Charlie learned that John and Debbie Haiderer's son, Mike, participated in our 2011 Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure.

Of course, Charlie found that connection interesting and evidence that the Bicycle Adventure's secondary mission after fundraising -- raising awareness -- is paying off, too. He also sees it as a ripple effect from the Legacy Build, that the spirit from the build is still alive and working.

But, yes, there's more to the story.

By Chris Johnson
Director of communications

For three straight days at work, Director of U.S. Field Operations Kirk Lyman-Barner and Director of International Field Operations Ryan Iafigliola have kept me busy putting out stories about new covenant partners coming on board with The Fuller Center for Housing.

Following up on the first new U.S covenant partner of the year in New Iberia, La., Kirk came to me Thursday and Friday with the additions of Tupelo, Miss., and then Elk City, Okla. And there appear to be more in the pipeline and plenty expressing interest in helping us fight poverty housing in the United States.

And then Ryan returns from a swing through Central America with a new covenant partner in Nicaragua and plans for a second covenant partner in El Salvador, one of our most popular build sites with the Global Builders.

They're gonna give me carpal tunnel syndrome writing about all the people they're bringing on board with our ministry. This whole fighting poverty housing thing and putting faith into action appears to be contagious. If Kirk and Ryan aren't stopped, they could very well attract enough good-hearted, hard-working folks to actually end the problem of poverty housing.

So, not only could I wind up with a terrible case of carpal tunnel, but I could be out of a job in communications if there's no poverty housing problem to communicate. I'd be back to covering high school football and county commission meetings.

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.