BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Fuller Center for Housing representatives were in the tornado-ravaged McDonald Chapel community of Birmingham, Ala., Thursday and Friday, June 9-10, to help the local community form the McDonald Chapel Restoration Partnership.
The partnership is designed to bring the efforts of The Fuller Center, the Alabama Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF), Volunteers of America, the Birmingham Baptist Association (BBA) and others from the community together in a coordinated effort to restore McDonald Chapel in the wake of the April 27 tornado that killed one person and destroyed or damaged dozens of homes.
“I want you to understand something – you’re on ground zero,” local community leader Lottie Green told local church leaders and others gathered Friday to form the partnership. “We have souls out there who need to be touched.
“These people, they need us,” added Green, who runs Lottie Green Ministries out of the McDonald Chapel Center, which has recently become a makeshift disaster headquarters but has long been a gathering place for the community. “What I hear is, ‘We want to come back. That’s my home.’ If we can come in here and y’all can come in here and build them a home, that’s what they want.
On Thursday night, dozens of residents came to Katherwood Baptist Church to hear from and ask questions of Fuller Center President David Snell and others, including representatives of FEMA and Volunteers of America.
“I can’t imagine the loss that so many of you have suffered,” Snell told the residents, many of whom are still visibly shaken and on edge a month and a half after the tornado. “But the opportunity that presents itself is: All right, we’ll pick ourselves up and start again. What The Fuller Center would like to do is help you do that.
“This place has the opportunity to flower, not just the way it was before the storm, but the way it was years ago.”
Information about The Fuller Center was distributed to the residents, a few of whom have already applied for homes. Then, Friday morning, groups eager to begin work met to chart their course of action.
While local church groups will set forth immediately to build relationships and trust in a shaken community, Partnership committees will begin work on family identification and selection, site selection and volunteer resources. The Fuller Center will soon send a representative to coordinate efforts on-site.
The Fuller Center sees McDonald Chapel as a community that is in great need and one that can serve as a shining example of the transformational power of simple, decent housing.