Alton Thomas vividly recalls when Henry County High School opened in the building that is now Henry County Middle School and is situated just across from four of the homes getting major renovations by Fuller Center for Housing volunteers at the Millard Fuller Legacy Build in McDonough, Ga.
“I remember carrying the desks and everything from the old school up a dirt road to the new school,” he said while standing in the front yard of his home, which was built for him and his mother by his brother in 1952. He also remembers when there were more fields than homes in the neighborhood. Then came a building boom in the area, although many of those homes are now in dire need of repairs.
Thomas, 75, was delighted when a Fuller Center team dropped by Wednesday afternoon for a site visit to see if his home could be a late addition to the Legacy Build. A leaky roof had caused damage to the interior of his home, which had benefited a couple years ago from work by the local Henry County Fuller Center. Fuller Center President David Snell and volunteers Ed Rutherford and Ralph Legarreta inspected the home and added it to the list.
“Wednesday is often the toughest day of these weeklong builds, but we have had a great turnout of volunteers, and they’ve been so effective that we can spare a few volunteers to work on Mr. Thomas’ home,” Snell said. “And Mr. Thomas is such an affable man, which makes us thrilled to be able to include his home in our project here.”
Another person thrilled to see the progress at the Legacy Build was John Cheek, community development director for the city of McDonough.
“I’m really impressed,” Cheek said. “The quality of the work is very good, and I really enjoyed meeting all the people and having so many people from all over the country in town. I think it’s fantastic. To have all of this work done for these families and to improve the community like this, it sets a great example and demonstrates how much we really could do if we put our minds to it.”
And Cheek would like to see others in the city step forward to address the problem of substandard housing with energy similar to that demonstrated by The Fuller Center for Housing and its volunteers this week.
“I’d really like to see us get much more focused on affordable housing and improved housing because we have a fair bit of substandard housing in McDonough that really needs to be brought back so people have decent places to live,” he said. “If we’re going to be able to get things done, we’re going to need good partners to work with.”
“The city of McDonough has been a great partner for this build, as has the entire community here,” Snell said. “This definitely is a partnership we intend to see thrive well into the future.”