Loretta and Jeanie mugshots

Loretta Beckner & Jeanie Michaelis


Jeanie wanted to know how she could help sister Loretta make her milestone 70th birthday. Loretta’s wish was to mark it by serving others. They wound up serving together on a Global Builders trip to Puerto Rico. Today, we share a double Fuller Living blog with entries by each!

About this series

“Fuller Living” features the people who make this ministry possible, talking about their experiences in their own words.

Milestone birthday leads to a "Sister Act" week of serving others with Global Builders in Puerto Rico

Loretta Beckner with homeowner partner children in Puerto Rico during her 70th birthday service trip.


I turned 70 this year, and my sister, Jeanie, wanted to do something to celebrate this milestone birthday. Upon reflecting back on my life, I felt the best way to do this was to do something for someone else. I recalled hearing about Fuller Center from a friend who’d gone to Nepal a few years ago on a service trip, so I contacted her. After checking out the Fuller Center website, I knew this was the place to start. They had a service trip to Puerto Rico, which really appealed to both Jeanie and me. Soon we were signed up to go on this adventure!

We were among 14 volunteers, including our team leader. We were 12 women, 2 men, ages 54 – 79. We were from 9 different states. Everyone except Jeanie and me had gone on multiple service trips over the years.

Even though we were inexperienced, the group of volunteers were welcoming and encouraging. We worked on three different houses throughout the week. Meeting the homeowners made our work all the more rewarding. The family in the house we worked on had been relocated to another town an hour away. The reactions they had while spending time at the house with us reinforced our commitment to work harder and complete as much as possible in this short time. The homeowner, along with others in the community, held a barbecue in her back yard for the volunteers as well as for others in the community after our last day of work. All of the homeowners spoke of their gratitude and appreciation for all we were doing on their behalf.

Beginning with our enrollment in the program, Fuller Center was available to answer questions and assist in any way possible to ensure our experience was successful and meaningful. After we returned home, Fuller Center checked in with us to discuss the pros and cons of our experience, which was impressive!

For me, this was among the most unique and rewarding experiences I’ve had in my lifetime. Making a small difference in the lives of a few people, who have lost everything, was an opportunity I’m glad I did not pass up.

Jeanie Michaelis with homeowners' children in Puerto Rico.


I was honored to get to experience the Fuller Center for Housing’s rebuilding of homes in Puerto Rico with my sister, Loretta. It was a most memorable and rewarding experience, and one that I will never forget.

After Loretta and I met up in San Juan on Saturday, we were able to join two other members of our team that evening for dinner before we headed to our worksite in Calzada on Sunday. It was nice to get to meet a couple of people from our team, and their past experiences gave us great insight to what we would be experiencing the week ahead, since we had never experienced this before.

Our entire group, along with our team leader, Robin, were kind, hard-working, and just good people; working with such a caring team made our work experience positive and enjoyable!

Throughout the week, Loretta and I got to work on the same house — one of three houses our team worked on. Loretta’s Spanish background was a huge asset to our team! In addition to Claudia, the daughter of our hostess, Loretta became the on-sight translator with Jesse, our house’s foreman; Milagros, our gracious hostess; and the family who lived in the house we were repairing. Meeting the family was definitely a highlight of our experience…and while we faced a language barrier, it was obvious that with love, there is no language barrier!

There was much work to be done, and throughout the week, we made great strides in moving this home to completion. Throughout the week, our team scraped, mudded, sanded, and painted walls, worked on the roof, mixed and hauled concrete, and cleaned the entire yard for a community BBQ on Friday evening.

Work days flew by and evenings were spent visiting with our team members and Milagros and Claudia. We also got some R&R time at the beginning and end of our trip as well as on Wednesday evening. Loretta and I got to experience some of the history of San Juan, hike in the El Yunque National Forest, and night kayak in a bioluminescent bay in Fajardo with the other team members.

As we reflect upon our sister adventure, Loretta and I could not have asked for a better experience than we had with the Fuller Center for Housing, repairing a few homes in Puerto Rico for families who lost everything from the hurricanes nearly 2 years ago. We were humbled by this experience and reminded of the importance of helping others in a time of need. We thank you for this unforgettable experience!

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  • Thank you, ladies, for sharing such nice comments! Glad you had a great trip!

  • Thank you Loretta and Jeanie for sharing your heartfelt and wonderful memory of your experience with our team in Puerto Rico in June. It was a great team and we worked as a well-oiled machine from the get-go, despite most of us not knowing the others until we met at the San Juan airport. The people of Calzado were welcoming and thankful for Fuller teams; ours was the 25th team in a year with much progress on homes and families devastated by the hurricane. It was my honor and pleasure to meet both Loretta and Jeanie and the rest of our awesome team. I encourage those wanting to do as Loretta and Jeanie wanted to do, which is to give back to those less fortunate.

  • Loretta and Jeanie,
    You were GREAT members to have on the team, and I enjoyed every minute with both of you, families, contractors, and the rest of the team. To see what could be done was a humbling experience with the team, Milagros, Claudia, families and contractors seemingly putting their love for humanity ahead of some of their own wants and needs. We should think about another trip—SOON!


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