Fuller Center General

By Chris Johnson
Director of Communications

Time for some utterly selfish blogging … well, almost utterly selfish.

I'm taking off on Monday, April 2, for Key West, Fla. No I'm not going to scope out a spot on the island that will mark the end of the line for the East Coast portion of this year's Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure. I'm not going to soak up rays or visit the Jimmy Buffett shrine of Margaritaville. (Although, I will do all of the above.)

No, I'm going to tie the knot with my fiancee Shellie before she wises up and changes her mind. I mean, everybody is very happy for me, but to a person everyone seems to wonder why she's with me. I've wondered it for a good while myself. So, I've got to seal this deal before Shellie starts wondering. It'll be Monday, April 2, on the beach at sunset. We thought about doing it that Sunday, but setting a date better known as April Fools Day seemed like it might be a bad omen.

I guess sometimes you just get lucky. And I'm definitely feeling lucky right now. Lucky to work for an enterprise whose sole mission is to help people, not to make a buck. Lucky that I get to tell success stories that practically tell themselves. Lucky to be back living in an area I consider home. Lucky to have a straight-A student in the sixth grade. Lucky to see my family and extended family grow. And lucky to have a bride who is not just beautiful, but also smart, fun, kind, outgoing and generous. We often preach how it's better to give than to receive. Telling that to Shellie definitely is preaching to the choir.

When Shellie first met my colleagues back in the newspaper business, a co-worker made the comment: “Wow, Chris, you really outkicked your coverage!” It's a football metaphor that essentially means you've aimed way higher than you can justify. At The Fuller Center, I got a similar reaction but with fewer sports metaphors when folks met Shellie. As Fuller Center President David Snell, my boss, said more straightforwardly: “Shellie's really nice. What's she doing with you?”

By Chris Johnson
Director of Communications

This past weekend in McDonough, Ga., the Henry County Fuller Center for Housing, which will host the U.S. portion of the 2012 Millard Fuller Legacy Build in September, held a spaghetti dinner that served as both a fundraiser and an awareness event to promote their past, current and future work.

Henry County FCH President Shane Persaud was fortunate enough to land a special guest for the event, a woman whose life of service has literally changed the lives of millions of people -- Linda Fuller Degelmann.

Of course, it's easy to forget that Linda has done so much for people around the world because she's so darn down to Earth. But one thing I've noticed about our co-founder is that something a lot of people say about her is not true. She does not treat everyone equally.

Allow me to explain: Linda has rubbed shoulders with celebrities and heads of state. She's met famous folks left and right and treats them as if they're just normal folks. She's not awed by others' power and fame. After all, she's pretty famous and she sees herself as just a normal person.

However, I've noticed that, on the other hand, Linda does give homeowner partners star treatment. It's not some calculated effort on her part, and I suspect she hasn't noticed it herself. But nothing seems to touch Linda more than having relationships with volunteers, supporters and, more than anything, homeowner partners (who often become supporters and volunteers themselves). They are the “stars” to Linda.

By Chris Johnson
Director of communications

I've finally counted all of the photos available for you to peruse and download from The Fuller Center's photo collection and -- using the brilliant math skills I acquired while taking Algebra II twice in high school -- have come up with the total there are to see.

You count the number of galleries, multiply by the subtotal of subcategories, exponentially quintupled proportionally to the power of seven, divide by pi, and you get the official total of Fuller Center photos: A LOT.

Having gone through this official total of “a lot” of Fuller Center photos, there are a few that stand out to me. The ones of cute kids smiling always make me pause. The scenery from places like Nepal and Peru makes me stare for a moment and wish I could go there soon. And there are even a few photos of myself that make me stop and say, “Gee whiz, I know I've got more hair than that!”

One of the more striking photos I've seen recently is the one accompanying this blog post. I received it earlier this week from the group One Small House, which built a duplex last week with the Grace Fuller Center in Haiti during a trip through our Global Builders program.

I've seen many photos from Haiti in recent years. I've seen crying children. I've seen earthquake destruction. I've seen trash in the streets. And, of course, I've seen the crowded tent cities and rows of pitiful shacks.

I've also seen photos of our work there. Smiling children. Green spaces and fertile hills outside the dirty city. A growing, self-sustaining community. Simple, decent duplexes. But this photo stopped me, and many others here, in my tracks for its striking colors and stunning beauty.

By Chris Johnson
Director of Communications

As I'm writing this, spring is in full bloom here in beautiful Americus, Ga., where it's a mostly sunny 82 degrees at the headquarters of The Fuller Center for Housing.

Yeah, yeah, I know the Ides of March doesn't quite mark the official beginning of spring, but it's unofficially marked all over the place around here. And that's OK with me. In fact, for years I've lobbied Congress to do away with winter and go to a calendar of two months of fall, five months of spring and five months of summer. But they don't listen to me. If they did, we'd also have a balanced budget thanks to my program that would encourage all Americans to just one day dig between their sofa cushions and donate everything they find to the government.

So I have to endure each winter, and I seriously believe I suffer from Seasonal Affectiveness Disorder, or what's more commonly referred to as the “winter blahs”. Of course, of all the disorders I probably have, it's likely way down the list.

It's not hard to see the signs of spring around here. The sun sets later. The days are warmer. Yellow pollen coats my black truck so much that it looks like a rolling Pittsburgh Steeler. I had to pick up my son from school today for the first time this school year because allergies have hit him hard. And everything is in bloom. It's been so nice here that even our artificial plants are blooming.

Early last week, sure signs of spring came in the form of spring breakers from Davidson College and Penn State University, who were working with a couple of covenant partners around here as alternative service breaks. Few things are as uplifting as seeing service-minded youths giving of themselves and having a good time in the process. They gave me new energy. (Read and see a video about those groups here.)

By Hailey Dady
Global Builders coordinator

Earlier this week, I arrived back in the States after a two-week stay in Peru. Since then I have been trying to put into words the joys and heartbreak that came along with the journey. Before I left the States, I knew the trip would open my eyes to a way of life much different than my own. I have traveled to many places and experienced much sorrow, but what I experienced in La Florida, Peru, has motivated me to do something. Whether that something is spreading the word of the community needs, sharing the stories of the families or raising money for home sponsorship, my mission will not end until every family has a place to call home. Until then, the tug and longing La Florida has on my heart will drive me to bring about God’s desire to provide for the basic needs of everyone.

Even with all the stories I've come back with, I could not move your heart the way seeing and experiences for yourself would. The only way to truly experience this is to see the sorrow in the mother’s eyes when she cannot provide for the basic needs of her children or the smile of the little child with worn-out clothes and shoes too small for their feet smile from ear to ear because they are going to have a house! A beautiful house made of bricks!

For many of these families, owning a home with solid walls never even crossed their minds as possible. They have spent their whole lives living among the dirt and sticks, which are pressed together to form four walls and, sometimes, a roof. They gather together whatever they can to provide a soft and warm place to sleep at night, but for many this is not much.