(Photo: Krystal Dillon and her three children partnered to become Fuller Center homeowners in 2015 in Independence, Louisiana. Last month, her sister became a Fuller Center homeowner in Hammond, Louisiana.)
When the Ginger Ford Northshore Fuller Center dedicated the home of April Dillon and her family in Hammond, La., last month, they knew exactly what kind of family partner they were getting — hard-working and responsible with a complete understanding of and appreciation for The Fuller Center’s hand-up philosophies.
Fuller Center homeowner families are partners in the building process, not charity cases. They contribute sweat equity in the building of their homes, and they repay the costs of materials on terms they can afford, over time, with zero-percent-interest mortgage payments that help others get the same hand-up into a decent home. Through this enlightened charity, families are not just partners but also become givers themselves.
April had a good mentor in this process — a single mother who worked hard in the spring of 2015 to build a three-bedroom, two-bath home for her and three children in nearby Independence, La. That mentor was her sister, Krystal Dillon.
Teams of volunteers worked with Krystal from the groundbreaking in November 2014 until dedication day in June 2015 to get her and her children into a simple, decent new home.
“They were just fully cooperative with the homeowner education program and all the sweat equity,” recalls Tamara Danel, who has since retired as executive director of the Ginger Ford Northshore Fuller Center but was on hand last month when new Executive Director Amanda Bonura handed April the keys to her new home. “It was great working with Krystal and her family. And they’ve done a really good job of maintaining the house and everything.”
One of the theories behind the “sweat equity” required of Fuller Center homeowner partners is that people tend to take more pride in things they help build than things that are simply handed to them. It enhances their sense of ownership. And Krystal certainly put the sweat in the sweat equity alongside volunteers in 2015.
“It was hard work because I was working a job and was a single parent,” says Krystal, who works at a pain management clinic in Hammond. “Putting in those hours is exciting, but it’s work.”
Five years after moving in and seeing her family expand to include a 3-year-old daughter, she insists it was all worth it — and not just because the three-bedroom home is more affordable and spacious than the two-bedroom apartment in which they had previously lived.
“It’s just a comfort,” she says. “We moved around a good bit after my divorce. Being somewhere that you know is going to be your home just changes your outlook. The kids are excited and happy and proud when their friends come over. And their friends are rooting for them and telling them how nice their home is. It’s just a major difference from a two-bedroom apartment.”
Since 2015, Krystal has helped other homeowner partners know what to expect as a Fuller Center homeowner from the early preparation and education to the joy of living in your own home.
“I always mentor to other ladies going through the program,” Krystal says. “The program will help them and their families because being a homeowner is one of the ultimate goals in life.”
Krystal knows that some of the best things in life come through blood, sweet and tears. Fortunately for Krystal and her family, there have been many tears of joy over the past six years in her home.
“There were a lot of tears shed by me and my children because we’re so grateful” she says. “I appreciate everything that was done for me.”