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

 

VIDEO: Take a look at our March 2017 update from the site of a project in Perry, Georgia

VIDEO: Take a look at our March 2017 update from the site of a project in Perry, Georgia

About 50 students from Wittenberg University of Springfield, Ohio, are spending their spring break this week working with Fuller Center covenant partners in Atlanta, Perry, Americus and Albany in Georgia and Tallahassee in Florida. Director of Communications Chris Johnson provides this month’s report of Fuller Center activities and talks to a couple of the Wittenberg students from the work site in Perry in the video above.

Our video was a few seconds late starting the recording, so all you don’t see is Director of Communications Chris Johnson introducing himself and then Wittenberg University sophomores Rachel Jouriles (left) and Kamilla Jensen, who are among about 50 Wittenberg students working with Fuller Center partners in Atlanta, Perry, Americus and Albany in Georgia and Tallahassee in Florida. The recording begins just after Kamilla is asked, “Why do you give up your spring break to serve others through The Fuller Center.

Volunteers repair Hammond, Louisiana, home badly damaged in storm 8 years ago

Volunteers repair Hammond, Louisiana, home badly damaged in storm 8 years ago

When a large tree falls on your home during a storm, the immediate aftermath of clean-up and repairs can be a brief ordeal. For Carmen Mapes of Hammond, Louisiana, however, this became an eight-year ordeal. She and her son have used tarps on the roof and buckets to catch rain inside their home since then.

Those hard days are over, thanks to the Ginger Ford Northshore Fuller Center for Housing, donated shingles from World Vision and teams of enthusiastic volunteers from Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and college groups from Southeastern Louisiana University, Alma College in Michigan and University of Redlands in California, as well as a team of Amish volunteers who came down earlier this year.

“It’s been a long journey,” Mapes told the Hammond Star on Wednesday. “I pinch myself every day.”

Click here for the HAMMOND Star’s
complete story and photo gallery

RELATED: The Higher Ground on the Bayou Flood Recovery Build

The Ginger Ford Northshore Fuller Center for Housing is hosting the Higher Ground on the Bayou Flood Recovery Build April 24-27, 2017, and needs volunteers. If you’d like to learn more or want to register to work in this area twice damaged by historic flooding in 2016, click here.

Twin Storms Relief Fund to support Fuller Center’s efforts to help Albany, Georgia, families

Twin Storms Relief Fund to support Fuller Center’s efforts to help Albany, Georgia, families

City leaders in Albany, Georgia, have teamed up with the Albany Area Fuller Center for Housing to help families impacted by January storms. Residents who are underinsured or not getting help from FEMA will have the opportunity to partner with The Fuller Center to get assistance. Those wishing to donate to the relief fund can do so at SunTrust Bank branches in Dougherty and Lee Counties. WALB-TV reports on the initiative below.

Support or learn more about
Albany Area Fuller Center efforts

WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

VIDEO: Louisianans want you to join them at April events in area ravaged by 2016 floods

VIDEO: Louisianans want you to join them at April events in area ravaged by 2016 floods

Tamara Danel, Executive Director of the Ginger Ford Northshore Fuller Center for Housing in Hammond, Louisiana, recruited a few friends for a Facebook live session in which they encourage you to join them at the April 24-27 Higher Ground on the Bayou Flood Recovery Build and/or the April 28-29 Fuller Center Annual Conference. Watch the video below, and then sign up at the following links:

Flood recovery 4-day blitz info/registration

Annual conference info/registration

Young Professionals group learns about Disaster ReBuilders’ work in Louisiana

Young Professionals group learns about Disaster ReBuilders’ work in Louisiana

The Livingston Parish News reports on a luncheon meeting of the Livingston Young Professionals, during which leaders spoke about the work of the Fuller Center Disaster ReBuilders, who have set up a base in Denham Springs, Louisiana, to help residents recover from the disastrous flooding of 2016. “They will need volunteers,” said Jamie Seal, of Quality Engineering & Surveying and a member of the LYP steering council. “They say Millennials want to be involved with things that are meaningful.”

Click here for the COMPLETE
Livingston Parish News story

Click here to volunteer in louisiana

‘I’ve come back home,’ 91-year-old says after house she loves is refurbished

‘I’ve come back home,’ 91-year-old says after house she loves is refurbished

The Marietta Daily Journal has an extensive report about the refurbishing of the Stockbridge, Georgia, home of Lillie Mae Woods, a 91-year-old better known in the Tye Street community as “Mother Woods.” Henry County Fuller Center for Housing Vice President Wayne Smith said the project matched their goals for helping the community. “Our purpose is to help people have safe, sustainable, affordable housing that grants them the dignity to stay in their own home,” he said.

Read the complete story in the Marietta Daily Journal

Former Habitat affiliate in Houston, Miss., sees ‘a better fit’ with Fuller Center

Former Habitat affiliate in Houston, Miss., sees ‘a better fit’ with Fuller Center

The Fuller Center for Housing’s newest covenant partner in Houston, Mississippi, is featured in a new article by the Chickasaw Journal in which local president Randy Rinehart explains the decision to part with Habitat for Humanity. “Habitat is a great organization, but they have a lot of rules and regulation that can be expensive to a chapter our size,” he tells tells the paper. “We feel like this will be a better fit.” Rinehart is pastor of Parkway Baptist Church, which learned about the grass-roots Fuller Center through its experience hosting the Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure during its annual spring rides down the Natchez Trace Parkway.

Read the complete article in the Journal