Grandfather of nine explains why he is cycling across the country this summer

Grandfather of nine explains why he is cycling across the country this summer

Paul Hatch, 71, has raised five children and has been rewarded with nine grandchildren. While he does not claim to be “a great physical specimen at all,” he has been rewarded with good health thanks to years of healthy eating and exercise.

This summer, he is taking exercise to a whole new level as he rides from Ocean Beach, Calif., to Ocean City, N.J., with the Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure as he strives to raise $10,000 to fight poverty housing.

The Davis Clipper newspaper of Davis County, Utah, sat down with the man who simply considers himself “an average person” to talk about what drives him to tackle this latest challenge. You can read the Clipper’s complete article below:

complete davis clipper article

U.S. Embassy’s Helping Hands in Armenia continue decade-long tradition

U.S. Embassy’s Helping Hands in Armenia continue decade-long tradition

The Fuller Center for Housing of Armenia is celebrating its 10th year of operation in 2018 — a decade that has seen it complete more than 630 homes in a land rich with history and beauty but also plagued by housing and economic problems.

One of the organizations that annually supports The Fuller Center’s work in Armenia is the U.S. Embassy’s Helping Hands organization. This year the group helped the Gabrielyan family in the  Gegharkunik region’s Zovaber village.

Click here for the complete story, and be sure to check out a slideshow from the build below:

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Disaster ReBuilders bring many new friends for Harvey victim in Friendswood, Texas

Disaster ReBuilders bring many new friends for Harvey victim in Friendswood, Texas

(Photo: Lou Ellen Hatchett, seated, was joyful during the recent dedication of her restored home.)

Lou Ellen Hatchett has a crystal-clear message for all those folks — often dirty and sweaty — who kept marching in and out of her house earlier this year while she just wanted to return to the Friendswood, Texas, home that had been flooded by Hurricane Harvey last summer:

Please come back to see me!

Her home has been restored thanks to the Fuller Center Disaster ReBuilders and dozens of good-hearted volunteers who came to East Texas to help their fellow Americans get back into their homes.

Hatchett’s home sits several miles east of downtown Houston and just a few miles west of Galveston Bay. Nearby Clear Creek was one of many calm waterways in the area that became watery monsters after Harvey dumped rains measured in feet instead of inches in late August and early September. This is the area that is now flooded with good-hearted volunteers instead of rain, thanks to the work of groups like the Fuller Center Disaster ReBuilders. Still, reminders of the summer disaster abound.

“Here I am, sharing many blessings, while so so sad so many still hurt so deeply, hoping I’m able in some way to help them,” she wrote to the Disaster ReBuilders during a recent sleepless night when thoughts of the disaster and the recovery were spinning through her mind. She recalled how rising Clear Creek, “caused so many homes totally covered with water only two blocks from my home, from this biblical Harvey non-ending hurricane disaster that still looks just as it did when it first happened — so many neighbors who will never be able to move back into their homes.”

Many, though, are being helped by team after team of volunteers working through the Disaster ReBuilders. Hatchett is thankful for each one who came to help her. She called the volunteers who came from across the nation, “my new families — forever welcome to come again soon and be part of my life in my home as lifelong family and friends. … I wouldn’t have a home if it hadn’t been for them.”

“I don’t want to live alone anymore,” she added, “so I must reach out to my new friends and assure them of a genuine welcome to my home at any time. Just come see me — as real friends and neighbors.”

volunteer with or support the disaster rebuilders at this link



National Day of Prayer 2018: Unity is something we must make happen, David Snell says

National Day of Prayer 2018: Unity is something we must make happen, David Snell says

(Photos: Fuller Center for Housing President David Snell gives the keynote address at Thursday’s 2018 National Day of Prayer event in Americus, Georgia.)

The theme of this year’s National Day of Prayer is “Unity.” If you look around at all the divisiveness in America today — much of it bitter and hateful — unity sounds like a mighty tall order for a theme.

Yet, that was the theme Mr. David Snell was tasked with addressing as the keynote speaker at Thursday’s National Day of Prayer service right here in Americus, Georgia, home of The Fuller Center for Housing and the city where Millard and Linda Fuller launched the world’s affordable housing movement decades ago.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must tell you that David is not just the president of The Fuller Center for Housing. He also has a much tougher job — being my boss. That’s a job with the difficulty level only a handful of folks can understand (likely after years of therapy!).

“Unity isn’t something that just happens. It is the result of good-hearted people doing good things, coming together to make the world better for all of God’s children.” — David Snell, President, The Fuller Center for Housing

When it comes to issues like politics, sports or even whether it’s better to vacation in the mountains or at the beach, David and I don’t agree on much. But we do work well together in pursuing one passion — helping families have simple, decent places to live. On that issue, in this pursuit, we have unity. In fact, I believe diversity of thought in such pursuits is an asset, not an obstacle.

Too often in today’s America people let their differences on unrelated issues prevent them from working together for good. In the nearly seven years I’ve served with The Fuller Center, it still amazes me that so many people — left, right and center; religious and not; northerners and southerners — come together under this big umbrella pitched by The Fuller Center. It’s not only because folks from all backgrounds want families and children to have simple, decent places to live, but it’s also because no one is against helping people help themselves, and that’s exactly how The Fuller Center works.

This is never more visible than when dozens of Fuller Center volunteers come together at a single site for a build — something we witnessed just a couple of weeks ago right here in Americus at the weeklong Millard Fuller Legacy Build.

“I know that these folks hold a great variety of political and religious beliefs and we could have had some vibrant debate over whose were the right ones,” David said to the crowd Thursday. “But we didn’t. All of that was put aside in order to get the houses built. When you have a Baptist and a Lutheran shingling a roof on a 90-degree day they aren’t likely to spend time arguing the merits of dunking over sprinkling. They are united in their mission just as we were as we came together to get some houses built. That’s the kind of people you want to spend time with.”

It may not get much attention on the television news shows — or the punditry panels that have taken the place of news — but folks of different backgrounds and political persuasions unite quite often. I see it all the time at The Fuller Center, and I know volunteers work together every day to support the good work of other nonprofits.

“Unity isn’t something that just happens,” David noted. “It is the result of good-hearted people doing good things, coming together to make the world better for all of God’s children. We see this happen so touchingly after a natural disaster, when people rush to the aid of those in need. We need to commit ourselves to being this supportive when there isn’t a disaster to deal with. We need to do it every day, and encourage our friends, our families and our churches to join in. Together there is nothing that we can’t do. Divided there is little that we can.”

While the theme of National Day of Prayer might be unity, none of the prayers I heard specifically asked for unity. Maybe that’s because we’ve already been given the tools and instruction to achieve it. It reminds of this old adage: If you ask God to move mountains, don’t be surprised if He hands you a shovel.

“As we leave this place of prayer today may we carry in our hearts to do as Jesus commanded, to love God and love one another,” David said in closing. “Jesus promised joy to those who do so, and there’s no better weapon against fear and division than a joyful heart. May God bless us all and may He continue to bless America.”

You want unity? So do I. So does virtually everyone in this great country. I pray that every American gets to work on it, with work being the key word there. Unity begins with you, and it begins with me. But it requires work for it to take shape.

So, care for those in need, Show love to everyone, whether you agree with them on other issues or not. If all else fails, grab a shovel. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

We’ve got everything we need to achieve unity. Pray that everyone sees the light.


Scenes from the National Day of Prayer in Americus:

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John J. Staton: Five decades of supporting Fuller ministry is all about hands-on faith

John J. Staton: Five decades of supporting Fuller ministry is all about hands-on faith

(Photo: Millard Fuller’s early work in Africa inspired the Rev. John J. Staton, who continues to support The Fuller Center for Housing’s work decades later.)


Editor’s note: We published this story on May 17, 2017. The Rev. Staton died on April 14 of this year, and we are re-running this story about a man who was a wonderful friend to the Fullers and a dedicated supporter of our affordable housing ministry through the years. The Rev. Staton’s obituary asks for memorial contributions to be made to The Fuller Center for Housing, which you can do in the Rev. Staton’s memory at this link.


When Millard and Linda Fuller founded The Fuller Center for Housing in 2005, retired pastor John J. Staton was among the earliest supporters. Of course, when the Fullers went to Africa in the early 1970s to test the concept of partnership housing, he supported them then.

Today, at age 88, he continues to give every month. He is especially proud to support a ministry that gave Millard Fuller some of the happiest years of his life as The Fuller Center gave him an opportunity to return and recommit to the grass-roots, Christian principles that he and Linda began with decades ago.

“It’s incredible what The Fuller center has done and accomplished since 2005, and I’m glad I’ve been able to play a role” Staton says from his home in Carmel, Indiana. “I get a real sense of joy every time I write a check to The Fuller Center, and it will always be so. I’ll continue to give to The Fuller Center as long as I live.”

“What The Fuller Center is doing is based on faith. Millard built things squarely on the Gospel and on faith. It appealed to me as a hands-on example of following Jesus.” — John J. Staton

Staton, who grew up in the suburbs of Columbus, Ohio, was Ivy League-educated at Dartmouth College, where he planned to become a doctor before going into ministry and attending Union Theological Seminary in New York City. It was that faith journey that would acquaint him with a young Millard Fuller, who also had experienced an abrupt change of direction in his life after giving up his millionaire lifestyle to serve others.

“He was deeply inspired by Clarence Jordan,” Staton says of Fuller’s relationship with mentor theologian Clarence Jordan, founder of Koinonia Farm. “I used to correspond with him even though I’d never met him, and I gave him some money for the work in Africa. That was long before they’d started Habitat or anything else.”

After the Fullers returned to the United States in 1976 and founded Habitat for Humanity, Staton’s correspondence with Millard continued. Eventually, Staton would bring Millard to speak at churches in Central Indiana and hosted the Fullers at the home he shared with wife Shirley. (Shirley Staton passed away in 2001.) After retiring from the pulpit, the Statons even came to Americus, Georgia, to volunteer with Habitat — John in development and Shirley as a guide at the Global Village and Discovery Center.

“The more I got to know Millard and Linda during those three months with Habitat, the more I admired what they were doing,” Staton says. Though he was frustrated by the Fullers’ dismissal by Habitat, he was eager to support them in their return to grass-roots, Christian principles with The Fuller Center.

“A lot of my connections to The Fuller Center are built on top of a friendship with him,” Staton says. “I believed in his mission. What The Fuller Center is doing is based on faith. Millard built things squarely on the Gospel and on faith. It appealed to me as a hands-on example of following Jesus.”

While spreading the Gospel through Millard’s “Theology of the Hammer” and by putting faith into action are what most appeals to him in supporting The Fuller Center, he also knows the importance of growing up in a decent home. He grew up in a solid middle-class home during the Great Depression, a home his parents purchased with a $10,000 inheritance from his great-grandmother.

“That was the only home I knew until I was out of college,” Staton says. “It’s still in good condition, although that lawn seemed to be huge when I had to mow it as a child. Now it looks like a postage stamp.

“But I have nothing but happy memories of that home,” he adds. “I fell in love as a senior in high school with a girl who lived just six blocks from me. I got to know every pebble in the street riding my bike back and forth between our two houses. I married that girl (Shirley, to whom he was married for 50 years) after college. I had a very happy childhood living in that house.”

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Idaho’s Silver Valley Fuller Center dedicates 20th completed home

Idaho’s Silver Valley Fuller Center dedicates 20th completed home

Photo: Verne Blalack (left) and Rick Gilbert (right) present the keys of the newly remodeled home to John “Boy” Delaney.

The Silver Valley Fuller Center for Housing recently dedicated its 20th completed home — a once-vacant property that was turned into a like-new home in Osburn, Idaho, in partnership with its new owner, John Delaney. The Shoshone News Press has complete coverage of the dedication ceremony at the link below.

shoshone news press article

LEGACY BUILD 2018: Volunteers talk about why they’ve come to serve others this week

LEGACY BUILD 2018: Volunteers talk about why they’ve come to serve others this week

(Craig Threatt of Americus is helping the Wright family build their new home at the 2018 Millard Fuller Legacy Build.)

On Monday, we told you about some of the international volunteers who have come from places such as Nicaragua, Peru and Haiti to help Americans build homes at the 2018 Millard Fuller Legacy Build in Americus, Georgia.

On Tuesday, we chatted via Facebook Live with the leaders of our newest partners from Maunabo, Puerto Rico. Fuller Center for Housing Global Builders teams are lined up to help the area hardest hit by Hurricane Maria, but Milagros Lebron and Eneida Santiago have been busy this week helping their fellow Americans build new homes here in Georgia.

Today, we’re visiting with some of the volunteers who have come from various states — as well as folks from right here in Americus — to find out the answer to one simple question that we put to each of them: “Why are you serving here in Americus this week at the Legacy Build?” Here are their responses:

Roger Theobald (Las Vegas, Nevada)

“Because I like the people who work for The Fuller Center — they’re good people who’ve got their heads in the right place to help the communities, and that’s hard to find these days. It’s a pleasure to be here. It’s good work. You sleep good at night. Work is a good thing. I like to stay busy and do good work instead of just wandering around. It’s more important to be part of a solution than a problem.”

Wendy Peacock (Americus, Georgia)

“It’s a way to give back to our community and encourage families who live here locally that they are part of a larger community of love and concern.”


Diane Bies (Evansville, Indiana)

“I just love it. It’s amazing how good it makes you feel to be here with all of these fantastic people. This is truly a vacation to be able to do this. This recharges me for the rest of the year. I’m not a beach person. This is where my heart is, for sure, and I’m happiest when I’m here. I really am. I called home and told my mother’s friend that I was on a construction site building a house for the week. She said that didn’t make her very happy. But I said, oh, I am in Heaven! She said, ‘OK, then, I’m happy!'”

Craig Threatt (Americus, Georgia)

“I’m here to help build these houses, and I know the Wright family. It’s a good process. It’s coming along, and it’s going to look real nice. I have some construction experience, but I’m still learning as I go.”

Joel Palmquist (River Falls, Wisconsin)

“I had the pleasure of being able to meet with and work with Millard years ago, and this is the first Legacy Build that I’ve been on. It’s just a chance to honor his legacy. It’s my first Legacy Build, but I’d volunteered before in Americus, so it’s kind of neat to come back and see after 25 to 30 years the changes and maybe being able to see some of the folks from back then, too. This is the heart of it.”

Maryann Glass (Malvern, Pennsylvania)

“My motivation is for the people to have a good home to live in. I rented a house for many, many years, and I think it’s very important for you to have your own home. It gives you more of a sense of pride.”

Michael Oliphant (Hayesville, North Carolina)

“I wanted to join a blitz build because it’s something I’ve heard about forever, and I’ve never been involved in trying to build a house so quickly, so it’s a learning experience for me. I plan to help lead a trip to Nicaragua (with the Fuller Center Global Builders program), and have a good group forming for that. It’s all about having a good time while you’re building a house and helping a family have a good place to live.”

Roger Werner (St. Johns, Florida)

“I came to give back. I’ve been very blessed with everything that the Lord’s given me and the skill that He’s given me in being a carpenter. I get more out of this than I give.”

Annette Metz (Cumming, Georgia)

“Why are we here?! Because we love it! You get the satisfaction of knowing that you finished a project or got it as far as you could get it and that somebody will enjoy it.”


Peter Meyer (Plainview, Minnesota)

“Life’s been good to me. I’ve had good health, and I’ve worked and made quite a little money in my life, and I don’t need any more, and I’m retired. So, why not help somebody else?”


View photo galleries from the
2018 Millard Fuller Legacy Build here.

LEGACY BUILD 2018: Family sees love pour in from all corners during home build

LEGACY BUILD 2018: Family sees love pour in from all corners during home build

(Photo: Legacy Build homeowner partners James and Mildred Wright with their sons Joshua (left) and Jeremy)

Christian theologian Clarence Jordan — who inspired Millard and Linda Fuller with the partnership principles that drive The Fuller Center for Housing’s success — once wrote: “What the poor need is not charity, but capital; not case workers but co-workers.”

Fuller Center homeowner partners repay the costs of building simple, decent homes on terms they can afford, over time, with no interest charged and no profit made. So, it is an empowering hand-up but not a gift. It is not charity in the sense of a handout. It is enlightened charity that uplifts.

Fuller Center homeowner partners also must contribute hundreds of hours of “sweat equity” in the building of their homes. James and Mildred Wright — along with their teenage sons Joshua and Jeremy — are putting in plenty of sweat equity this week at the 2018 Millard Fuller Legacy Build in Americus. Fortunately, they have plenty of co-workers in the process as volunteers from across the nation and a few other countries are working alongside them.

“It’s wonderful,” James said Tuesday morning as the second day of building got under way. “It’s a wonderful thing that people come from all over the world to help you, to help you improve your living conditions. If I need to go somewhere to help someone, that’s what I’ll do because it’s the right thing to do — to show love. There’s not enough love like they used to be. Love will get you a long way, and that’s all I see around here — love.”

James Wright digs where his family’s front porch will be.

That love is coming from co-workers like Sophie Luedi, Millard and Linda Fuller’s granddaughter, a Florida native who now is attending school in California. It comes from as far away from Peru with the help of volunteers like Zenon Colque and Vitaliano Enquiquez. It comes from Maunabo, Puerto Rico — in the area of the island hardest hit by Hurricane Maria — with volunteers Milagros Lebron and Eneida Santiago. More love comes from New York, Rhode Island, North Carolina, Virginia, Minnesota and other places, including locals from Americus, Georgia.

All that love means that the Wrights will no longer live at the mercy of landlords.

“Our current living situation is not a place that a person really wants to be,” James said. “We thank God for The Fuller Center helping us build a house. The place we were renting from other people, they weren’t keeping it up. It was raining in the house, with roaches in the house and mice. So the situation was real bad.”

As soon as the family gets settled into the home, they will concentrate on their next step upward — getting the boys enrolled in technical school to learn a trade. He credits all the love coming their way and the improvements in their lives to a renewed commitment to Jesus and living right.

“They’re very excited that we’ll have something new and different to live in,” he said of the two hard-working teens, who will continue to live with them until they are self-sufficient in their careers. “This is a real improvement. Once you get to know Jesus, you start living right. They say if you live better, you do better. And that’s our experience right now.”