A Fuller Center Hero: The Youngest Donor

Winter can be especially difficult on the elderly, but no more so than when a poorly-insulated house lacks heating. That was the situation for Mrs. Fannie Smith, 92, of West Point, Georgia, before the Chattahoochee Fuller Center Project (CFCP) stepped in during the fall of 2009.

Before the swift action of Darren Kelley and Kim Gabriel, Mrs. Smith’s house was falling down around her. Neither the stove nor the toilet worked. The ceiling was drooping and only one, tiny gas heater was available to warm her.

The CFCP also received help on the project from nine-year-old Lillie Barnes Ogata of LaGrange, Ga., in the form of a $137 check. Lillie had wanted to volunteer at the Millard Fuller Legacy Build with her parents, but was told she was too young to work on a construction site. Her mother encouraged her to find other ways to help out.

For her ninth birthday, Lillie asked her friends to make small donations instead of buying traditional presents. Shortly after, she presented all of the money in person to CFCP President, Bill Scott and asked that it be designated for a Greater Blessing repair. Bill then introduced Lillie to Mrs. Smith.

Thanks in part to Lillie’s small but mighty donation, Mrs. Smith now has new windows, two energy-efficient heaters and renovated kitchen and bathroom.

A few weeks after the repairs were completed, Linda Fuller paid Mrs. Smith a visit. “As soon as I climbed a newly constructed ramp and stepped inside the house, I saw a woman with bright eyes seated in a wheelchair beside a heater,” said Linda. “She held out her frail hands and greeted me like a long-lost relative.”