Each week, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper features a charitable organization or group doing good work in the community. This week’s story is about a group of Wittenberg University students who traveled from Springfield, Ohio, to work with the Greater Atlanta Fuller Center for Housing.
For the second straight year, a huge team of Wittenberg University students on spring break drove to the Southeast last week — not to hit the beaches but to hit nails … a whole lot of nails.
Fifty came from the Springfield, Ohio, school for alternative spring breaks last week — driving hundreds of miles before splitting into five groups working with Fuller Center for Housing covenant partners in Atlanta, Perry, Americus and Albany in Georgia and Tallahassee in Florida.
Here is a location-by-location glance at the students’ stops along with additional links to media reports and more:
GREATER ATLANTA FULLER CENTER FOR HOUSING
Board member Jackie Goodman made sure that students got an overview of the many sights, sounds and tastes of the Atlanta area, while Director Mark Galey kept the students busy during the day, including a project for a Jewish family. At a time when anti-Semitic acts have been rising, Galey was glad that the students could express their Christian love for others while witnessing The Fuller Center’s commitment to ecumenicalism and service to all of God’s people.
“We had an incredibly great experience last week, working in partnership with students from Wittenberg University as our Christian ministry made needed repairs to the home of a Jewish family whom we had learned about through a member of their synagogue,” Goodman said. “The synagogue member was a member of NARI (National Association of the Remodeling Industry) who knew Mark Galey through that organization, and brought the family’s needs to our attention. Construction management students from Gwinnett Tech joined us to help supervise the project.”
“The homeowners (husband, wife, and two teenagers) worked alongside the volunteers all week,” Goodman added. “The husband, who has been employed in a low-wage job at Rite-Aid for more than 20 years, was able to take a week of vacation in order to be able to help, and the wife, who is a seamstress and works at home, also assisted with painting and repairs. I think I speak for the entire group when I say we did our very best to show God’s love in action, and I think the homeowners felt the love! The Atlanta Fuller Center appreciates the hard work of the Wittenberg students and looks forward to our future association with Wittenberg and other groups who are committed to helping improve living conditions for families in need.”
In Perry, eight students worked with local President Warren Johnson and two local volunteers — Coy Goff and Michael Boden — to repair the roofs of two elderly women, including Velma Robinson, who has lived in the same house all of her life.
“There are some good people in the world,” Ms. Robinson said as the students scraped off old shingles a day before replacing them with CertainTeed shingles provided by World Vision. “It’s a blessing for these kids to give up their free time to come help somebody like this when they could be doing something else. And I do appreciate them, very much.”
“We built two roofs but I think the best part is just the community that we’ve been hanging out with in Perry,” student Becky Schmitthenner said. “It was a great way to spend our spring break instead of just partying on a beach. It was so meaningful.”
Jenn Downing also worked with the Perry Fuller Center during her 2016 spring break. She could have headed for the beach this year but instead chose to be a team leader and return to Perry.
“This is so much more rewarding,” she said. “You’re still with your friends, you get to meet amazing people in a new place and you know that someone benefits from what you’re doing. It’s an amazing feeling.”
Fuller Center Director of Communications Chris Johnson said the students’ visit helps the small-town covenant partner garner media attention (including this front-page centerpiece photo in the Macon Telegraph), renews the energy of local volunteers and enhances relationships with church partners, including First Baptist Church of Perry, which hosted the students in a vacant house on its property.
In Americus — also home to The Fuller Center’s international headquarters — the students worked on a couple of different projects, including restoring a donated home to decent condition and helping transform a space above the Americus-Sumter Fuller Center’s headquarters into a transitional housing space.
“I got here thinking that we were just going to be painting and flooring, and then they showed us this place and told us we would be building an apartment,” Jessica Skoglund said. “Seeing this entire apartment come together has been the best experience I’ve ever had on a mission trip, honestly.”
Rachael Fink appreciated being able to work alongside people like Thad Harris, an Americus-Sumter Fuller Center homeowner partner who also has become a local board member and one of The Fuller Center’s most prolific volunteers, inspiring hundreds of people while rolling around job sites in his wheelchair.
“Ive learned so much about the community and I’ve absolutely loved hearing stories about the people who work with the Fuller Center,” she said. “It’s just been an incredible experience. You can’t make a difference without knowing the story and knowing other people’s backgrounds.”
In Albany, students saw the widespread damage caused by two bouts with January storms, the second of which spawned a devastating tornado.
While helping Ricardo Miguel’s family repair damage to their storm-damaged mobile home, the Wittenberg students also helped put a major initiative on the map, sparking media coverage of Albany Twin Storms Relief. Also known as “A2,” it is an effort to help families affected by the storm who lack adequate housing insurance or who have been overlooked by FEMA efforts. The Albany Area Fuller Center is a primary partner in the effort.
“This is amazing,” Miguel told the Albany Herald newspaper. “It is amazing to know that there are people in your community willing to help out when things are bad. I am overwhelmed.”
Speaking to WFXL-TV, Metta Devine-Quin said, “It’s a lot of damage. I have seen it before, and I sympathize with all of the people down here. Anything that we can do to help them, I just want to be able to do anything I can.”
In Tallahassee, Florida, students worked on five homes in a low-income community. Though most had little to no construction experience, they learned that it’s the passion for helping others that makes a difference.
“What I learned was that regardless of your previous skills, anyone can contribute anything to any cause, so that was a really rewarding experience for me,” Alex Quillin said.
Their efforts not only improved homes in the area, but they provided inspiration and hope for the residents — including some of the youngest residents.
“I was not expecting it to be this amazing,” Lydia Newton said. “We met a little girl who was living in a trailer. She was helping me and she told me she wanted to be like me when she grew up. She wanted to wear the apron and the gloves and help out and make a difference. It was really amazing.”
Wittenberg University students bring a surge of energy to the communities in which they serve others during their alternative spring breaks, and that lift definitely was needed in Albany, Georgia, where they are working to help families impacted by two storms — including a tornado. As the Albany Herald reports, perhaps no one is more excited to have the students in town than Albany Twin Storms Relief Inc. CEO Makeba Wright and homeowner Ricardo Miguel.
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.
Ten students from Wittenberg University have been working this week with The Fuller Center for Housing of Tallahassee, Florida, during their spring break. WCTV caught up with the students to find out what they are doing for the community and why they’ve chosen to spend their spring break serving others. See the report from WCTV below:
The Albany Area Fuller Center for Housing is just now forming in Georgia, but its work is off to a fast start thanks to about 30 students from Wittenberg University and local business partners who want to help The Fuller Center’s ministry take off in the city just south of The Fuller Center’s international headquarters.
WALB-TV dropped by an Albany Area Fuller Center work site this week to check in with the team from Wittenberg that is part of a larger group of 50 students who are using their spring break to serve families in need through Fuller Center covenant partners. Click here to see the full video report.
Wittenberg University of Springfield, Ohio, may be a small liberal arts college, but their students have a big impact on their community. Dozens work with the local Clark County Fuller Center for Housing throughout the year, providing about 80 percent of the volunteer hours that have helped them complete 16 new homes in the past three years, according to Clark County FCH construction leader Dave Holly.
This week, about 50 Wittenberg University students are spending their spring breaks serving other Fuller Center communities in their first experience with The Fuller Center’s U.S. Builders program — working with Fuller Center covenant partners in Tallahassee, Fla., Albany, Ga., and Perry, Ga.
WMAZ-TV of Macon, Ga., made the short trip down I-75 on Monday to catch up with the 10 Wittenberg students who are working in Perry. You can view the WMAZ report in the video below, and then check out the photo gallery from their first day on the job.