(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.”
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.”