(Photo: Legacy Build volunteers Zenon Colque of Lima, Peru, and Monica Cardenas of Bogota, Colombia)
BEAUREGARD, Ala. — When total volunteer hours are tallied after the conclusion of the 2019 Millard Fuller Legacy Build, that number is expected to set a record for volunteer hours at a single Fuller Center event — by a long shot.
By far, the driving factor behind that is volunteer support from the local area with dozens of volunteers showing up — some unannounced — to offer their help. The March 3 tornado that devastated parts of Lee County, Alabama, hit close to home for many of these people who further understood the importance of having a simple, decent place to live.
There also is a large contingent of around 250 volunteers from across the United States, many of whom are Legacy Build veterans. Add to that sprinkling a handful of international flavors and you’ve got the recipe for a very successful blitz week.
“I’m here because I have that disease — Fuller-itis,” said Zenon Colque, who just two weeks ago was hosting volunteers in La Florida, Peru, during a build at which the 100th Fuller Center home in Peru was dedicated. “Last week I was with Americans in Peru, and this week I’m here. The same dynamic is everywhere.”
Colque was working inside the home of Gina Johnson, who is raising a daughter with cerebral palsy. Alongside him was a new friend, Monica Cardenas, who is interested in possibly starting a Fuller Center for Housing partner in Bogota, Colombia.
“I’m here because I have a sense of service,” Cardenas said. “I just want to learn how to help others in building a house. And building a house is building a community, and that’s why I’m here.”
Monday’s weather was blistering hot, much warmer than either Colque or Cardenas is used to in their higher-elevation South American homes. It may have seemed even warmer to Tim Bruce, who hails from Chilcompton, England — making him the volunteer who traveled the farthest to be here with a journey of more than 4,300 miles. Then again, this past summer he rode more than 3,600 miles across the United States with the Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure, a journey upon which he encountered all kinds of weather from snow to rain to extreme heat.
“I did the bike ride in the summer and really got an idea of some of the things that The Fuller Center is doing, but this is a completely different perspective,” he said. “I wanted to come find out more about what Fuller Center does because if I’m going to do further bike rides in the future and raise further sponsorship, I need to be able to demonstrate some of the work that Fuller Center is doing.”
Of course, when you’re used to the weather in Chilcompton, England — which was around 60 degrees Fahrenheit and cloudy on Monday — a sunny Alabama “fall” day topping out in the mid-90s takes some getting used to.
“The weather is rather hot right here,” he said with a laugh. “But it’s raining a lot in England right now, so I believe I’m in the right place.”
Geral Joseph came to the build from Pignon, Haiti, a popular spot for Fuller Center Global Builders. It certainly was not too hot for him to pay forward the love Americans have shown in building homes for his community. In fact, the weather made him feel right at home.
“The reason I am here is that we need to show love everywhere in the world — not only in Haiti, my country, but also wherever it is needed,” he said. “I think the weather is OK. In fact, it may be hotter in Haiti.”
Working alongside each other in the rear of the Johnson home were Kaye Hooker and Lynn Twitchell — two of the most prolific Fuller Center Global Builders team leaders. While they are Americans, they have spent countless hours serving internationally. They were enjoying the twist of serving in their own country.
“It’s my first domestic build, and I’m absolutely thrilled to be here,” Hooker said, adding that the weather in Alabama is feeling a lot like Haiti, where she has served on a dozen different trips. “Haiti is my true love.”