Photo: Doug Stephens with a very happy new homeowner, Rita Rowland
Millard Fuller Legacy Build in West Point a testament to faith and perseverance
WEST POINT, Georgia — It was only fitting after four days of working in torrential downpours with gray skies above and deep orange mud below that the two newest Fuller Center for Housing homes were dedicated Friday in brilliant sunshine. Indeed, brighter days are ahead for the families of Latrisha Finley and Rita Rowland, the two new homeowner partners who shed many tears of joy on Friday.
Just before the dedications, Rowland walked around the interior of her home taking photos of every single uplifting message and Bible verse that had been written on the studs during an earlier wall build — a build in Pennsylvania that included many of the same volunteers who came to West Point to build the home. Because the heavy rain had postponed the installation of insulation and drywall, those messages that are usually covered up forever by day five of a blitz build were still visible.
“I’ve gained so many more family members,” Rowland said of the long week in which she worked side by side every day with volunteers from around the country. “I thank you all.”
Rowland is a 14-year Army veteran who is raising a 12-year-old granddaughter, Kennedy. She has lived in public housing for the past 15 years and has never owned a home of her own until now. It is the 65th new home build by the Chattahoochee Fuller Center Project and was made possible by Mimi Crowley, who raised funds from friends and family in memory of her husband Bob Crowley who passed away last year.
“This little lady right here, you just don’t know what a difference you’ve made in my life, and I thank you so much,” Rowland said in addressing Crowley directly.
The 66th new home by the Chattahoochee Fuller Center Project is next door and will be owned by Latrisha Finley, mother of a daughter with special needs, Asia, and an adult son, Jaylin. Finley is thrilled not just to have a safe new home, but also one that can accommodate her wheelchair as an amputee. The home she currently rents for more than she will pay in zero-percent-interest mortgage payments has had a hole in the roof since a storm struck in March.
“I thought I was going to have to go out and get us into some real debt to find some place that was comfortable for us,” Finley said. “But God worked it out so that we could still have a nice house but not have to pay as much as we’ve been paying in rent. I’m thankful for that and thankful for Asia and Jaylin having a place that we can call ours.
“I can’t believe God did it for me,” she added. “God has touched all these hearts of everybody who’s been out here working so hard. I’ve gotten to know so many people, and I’m just so thankful.”