Mother, disabled daughter joyously return to Louisiana home flooded in 2016

Mother, disabled daughter joyously return to Louisiana home flooded in 2016

When historic flooding struck much of southern Louisiana in 2016, Teressa Bell helped her wheelchair-bound daughter Donna get to the second-floor deck of their home to await rescue by boat. But long after floodwaters receded, their problems continued.

They were among the fortunate Louisiana residents to receive FEMA money to make repairs on their home. Unfortunately, a crooked contractor absconded with their money without making repairs. With their remaining repair funds, they were again targeted by a shyster. They had nearly given up hope. Then the Fuller Center Disaster ReBuilders came along.

On Thursday, more than two years after their dramatic rescue, the Bells’ repaired home was dedicated with a huge crowd of volunteers and supporters in attendance, including U.S. Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana.

“We didn’t know we had so many friends!” an elated Teressa said after cutting the ribbon.

The Disaster ReBuilders have been working for the past month in areas of North Carolina in areas struck by Hurricane Florence and for the past year in east Texas helping families impacted by Hurricane Harvey. But two years ago they began working in Louisiana, setting up a base camp in Denham Springs — a small community in the heart of the flood zone.

Ginger Ford Northshore Fuller Center for Housing Executive Director Tamara Danel urged the Disaster ReBuilders to consider helping families who were falling between the cracks of traditional assistance offered by insurance and government agencies. Having worked with the Disaster ReBuilders since the days of Hurricane Katrina, Danel knew their expertise would be put to good use again in Louisiana.

“Thousands of volunteers from around the country have come to Southeast Louisiana to build and repair houses for low-income families, disabled families and people who just did not have the resources to come back after the devastation,” said Danel, filling in for Disaster ReBuilders President Bart Tucker, who was hard at work in North Carolina on Thursday with other members of his Disaster ReBuilders team.

“We’re just so happy to be a Christian organization that can partner with churches like Christ Community Church (local house sponsor) and with volunteers from all walks of life and all faith backgrounds to make simple, decent housing affordable and available to everyone in need,” added Danel, whose Ginger Ford Northshore Fuller Center has two new homes scheduled to be dedicated this coming Sunday.

Sen. Kennedy expressed his appreciation for all of the supporters and volunteers who helped make the project possible and shared the frustration the Bell family experienced with shysters.

“I’m so happy for this wonderful family, Teressa,” he said. “I want the name of that contractor who took your money and didn’t do his work because we’re gonna chase him all over Hades and half of Georgia until we can get him — I can promise you that.

“I don’t know why bad things happen to good people,” Sen. Kennedy added. “If I make it to Heaven someday, I’m going to ask the Good Lord. But what counts in life is not whether you fall down — we’re gonna always fall down some. What counts is whether you get back up.”

He noted that media attention quickly turns to new disasters and thanked those who continue to help families in the months and years of recovery after natural disasters.

“What counts is what you do in life when people aren’t looking and the cameras aren’t there,” he said. “And a lot of people did a lot of good for their fellow man and woman, and it just makes me proud to be a part of this great country.”

Before Teressa and Donna Bell cut the ribbon and entered the home, construction leader Peter Salemme presented the two with blankets created by volunteers, as well as an “instruction manual.”

“With new cars and appliances and such, there’s always an instruction manual that comes with it,” Salemme said. “We have two instruction manuals for you and Donna — the Holy Bible.”

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WBRZ-TV has a great report on the dedication that you can watch by clicking the image below:

Catholic Charities contributes $500,000 to Disaster ReBuilders’ efforts in Texas

Catholic Charities contributes $500,000 to Disaster ReBuilders’ efforts in Texas

Catholic Charities of Galveston-Houston is contributing $500,000 to the Fuller Center Disaster ReBuilders to house families and rebuild their homes that were damaged last year by flooding from Hurricane Harvey. Fox-26 television reports on the deal in the video below and notes that the Disaster ReBuilders are looking for more local volunteers as they continue their efforts over the next couple of years in the area. If you would like to contribute funds or volunteer hours to the Disaster ReBuilders’ efforts, please click here.

Building homes in Armenia a summer tradition for Florida’s Charlie Takesian

Building homes in Armenia a summer tradition for Florida’s Charlie Takesian

Now 82, Charlie Takesian of Ocala, Florida, recently returned from his 12th mission trip to build homes — the last 10 of those trips have been to the country of his forefathers, Armenia. In an interview with the Ocala Star-Banner, Takesian talks about why he serves every summer with The Fuller Center for Housing’s Global Builders program and whether he has any plans to slow down. Spoiler alert: After helping build 26 homes, he has no intention of slowing down.

ocala star-banner story

Our Fuller Center kids are growing up — and that’s what it’s all about

Our Fuller Center kids are growing up — and that’s what it’s all about

(Photo: We met Cindy and Manuel, above, during our first exploratory visit to Nicaragua. They captured our hearts, and their family would become the first to move from a shack to a new Fuller Center home in Las Peñitas, Nicaragua.)

Often when we think of a house, we picture walls, a roof, windows, doors and floors. But when you fill those walls with families trying to build a better life for themselves and their children, that house becomes a home. And home is the foundation, the basic building block for healthy families and successful children.

Studies have repeatedly shown what common sense already tells us — that children who grow up in a decent home are more likely to be happier, healthier and do better in school than those who do not. Sometimes, though, we need a reminder of that. Sometimes, we need to put a face with that statistic. And here’s a face we fell in love with way back in 2012 … Read More »

VIDEO: Anush takes you on a tour of her family’s new home in Armenia

VIDEO: Anush takes you on a tour of her family’s new home in Armenia

 

After spending virtually her entire life in a shipping container that was supposed to be only a “temporary” shelter after a massive earthquake struck Armenia in 1988, Anush is thrilled to have a beautiful new home for her family in the Lori region’s Darpas village. Speaking in English, Anush takes us on a tour of her family’s new home and expresses her gratitude.

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Rising music star Rayla a Fuller Center volunteer and supporter

Rising music star Rayla a Fuller Center volunteer and supporter

Rayla, 17, is a popular music performer from New Jersey whose most recent hit “LNT” is one of the most popular songs making the rounds on Radio Disney. Next year, she’ll be on tour across opening for 4th Ave. But as she notes in this recent exclusive interview with BSCKids, she also has a passion for helping families have simple, decent places to live — something she has done the past two years working on Fuller Center for Housing projects in West Virginia. “The Fuller Center does such amazing work around the country,” she says in the piece. “It is amazing to watch the house come together and know we all are working together to help a family build a better life.” To read the complete interview with Rayla, click the link below and you can learn more about her on her Twitter, InstaGram and Facebook pages.

BCSKIDS interview with rayla

Busy Chattahoochee Fuller Center Project dedicates houses 41 and 42

Busy Chattahoochee Fuller Center Project dedicates houses 41 and 42

(Photo: Tiffany Roberts, who is battling cancer while raising 9-year-old son Elijah, rejoices after the Bible presentation during the dedication of her new Fuller Center home Friday in Valley, Alabama.)

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At the dedication of the Chattahoochee Fuller Center Project’s 41st new home build in Valley, Alabama, on Friday, CFCP President Curt Johnson reminded the many supporters in attendance that Millard Fuller would be proud of their success but also would remind them that this is no time for complacency. Two hours later, a few miles away in West Point, Georgia, Johnson would echo that theme along with CFCP founder Bill Scott and Executive Director Kim Roberts during the dedication of the CFCP’s 42nd new home build. For complete coverage of each dedication, click here to read the thorough report from the Valley Times-News.

VIDEO: Carmen and Rodney Lott were the CFCP’s homeowner partners for house No. 40 in June. They weren’t able to make Friday’s dedications because Rodney was volunteering to run the ReUse Store in Lanett, Alabama, which raises money for the CFCP’s work. Rodney was able to take a moment to talk about how their lives have changed and how God doesn’t need us … “He wants us!”

Armenian family to get new home after three decades in shipping container

Armenian family to get new home after three decades in shipping container

After a devastating earthquake rocked the historic land of Armenia in 1988, thousands of families were provided temporary shelter by the Soviet Union in the form of empty metal shipping containers known as domiks. Unfortunately, many of those shelters were far from temporary and thousands still live in them following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Many of the families with whom The Fuller Center works in Armenia are domik dwellers — including the Bejanyan family living the village of Koti. Living about a mile from the border with Azerbaijan, with whom Armenia has a history of armed conflict. Not only has the Bejanyan family had to endure living in a container for more than 30 years, but it is riddled with bullet holes fired from across the border. At last, the Bejanyans will have a safe, new home, thanks to the Fuller Center of Armenia’s partnership with VivaCell-MTS. You can read their story below:

panorama armenia story