FAITH IN ACTION: Marine went from leading troops to leading home-building efforts in Louisiana

FAITH IN ACTION: Marine went from leading troops to leading home-building efforts in Louisiana

(This is the latest installment of our “Faith in Action” series. If you have a story of how involvement with The Fuller Center has impacted your faith, please let us know at this link.)

Lee Jeter grew up economically disadvantaged in Bossier City, Louisiana, but he was fortunate to grow up in a home that was rich with love — thanks to his single mother who worked two jobs while raising seven children and two nieces.

She instilled in son Lee the values of hard work, faith and determination — values that served him well during 20 years in the United States Marine Corps. Today, he puts those values to work as executive director of The Fuller Center for Housing of Northwest Louisiana in Shreveport and Bossier City — one of the international nonprofit’s most productive covenant partners.

KTBS-TV featured Lee’s story in a series called “Hometown Patriot,” which you can view below:

New house for once-homeless Army veteran, wife built in memory of teen

New house for once-homeless Army veteran, wife built in memory of teen

(Photo, from left: Fuller Center for Housing of Northwest Louisiana Executive Director Lee Jeter, Sterling and Rhonda Combs, Bryan and Peri Reed. Mrs. Combs is holding a photo of Molly Reed, in whose memory their home was built.)

Army veteran Sterling Combs and his wife, Rhonda, have seen their share of hard times, but they have come all the way back from years of addiction and homelessness. Today, they have a new two-bedroom, one-bath Fuller Center home in Bossier City, Louisiana, thanks to churches and a community that came together to honor Molly Reed’s spirit of joy and compassion.

Molly Reed

Molly was 15 when she died in a car wreck with friends Katy Watkins and Emily Perdue in 2006. All three girls were passionate about helping others, and two Bossier City homes already have been built in honor of Katy Watkins. A future home is planned in honor of Emily Perdue.

“There’s a lot of people struggling like me and my husband. I just want them to know, there is help and there is hope,” Rhonda Combs told KSLA-TV, whose coverage you can view at this link.

She also told KTBS-3 News that she plans to start a community garden in Molly’s memory from which seniors who are struggling to buy food can simply come and pick what they need.

The new Fuller Center home for Sterling and Rhonda Combs — who both work at Overton Brooks VA Medical Center — is the 57th new home built by The Fuller Center for Housing of Northwest Louisiana. The 58th, also for a veteran, is under way in Shreveport, just across the river from Bossier City. Financial and volunteer support from The Simple Church and Asbury United Methodist Church, along with Fuller Center donors, helped make this project possible.

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The Bossier Press-Tribune covered Tuesday’s entire dedication ceremony, which you can watch in this video:

Fifth veteran’s home going up in Shreveport’s Stoner Hill neighborhood

Fifth veteran’s home going up in Shreveport’s Stoner Hill neighborhood

The Fuller Center for Housing of Northwest Louisiana’s 58th new home build will be its fifth in the Stoner Hill neighborhood — all five homeowner partners being veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Baugh

The Fuller Center broke ground Saturday on the new home for 20-year Army veteran Daniel Baugh, whose home is being sponsored by First United Methodist Church of Shreveport and will be complete in two to three months.

Baugh tells KTBS-TV in the report linked below that the home is “God-given” and “God-sent.”

Editor’s note: The KTBS-TV report is headlined “U.S. Army veteran given a home, now searches for a wife.” The Fuller Center does not give away homes but instead partners with homeowners, who work alongside volunteers and repay the construction costs on terms they can afford with no interest charged or profit made. Those repayments go into a Fund for Humanity to help others in their community get the same empowering hand-up — not a handout.

view the KTBS-TV report

Builds, unique fundraiser keep Fuller Center busy in Northwest Louisiana

Builds, unique fundraiser keep Fuller Center busy in Northwest Louisiana

The Fuller Center of Northwest Louisiana raised more than $95,000 this past weekend with a unique fundraiser that also helped shine a light on a nearly complete build in Bossier City, Louisiana, and on its upcoming groundbreaking for the next home for a veteran in Shreveport.

The fundraiser gave people an opportunity to rappel down one of downtown Shreveport’s towering landmarks — the Beck Building. Among the dozens of people who raised money for the opportunity to make the nerve-wracking 232-foot descent was 85-year-old Joane Sigler, who told KTLA-TV, “I’m a native Shreveporter, and I love this town, and I’ll do anything in the world to make it a better place for everybody to live.” For KTLA’s complete coverage of this unique event, click here.

Meanwhile, First United Methodist Church of Shreveport is involved in a unique mission trip this week. After years of sending teams to work in Costa Rica, they are hosting a group of Costa Ricans who have come to Shreveport to help build a Fuller Center home. Afterward, they will head to Baton Rouge to assist in flood recovery. For complete coverage of their mission trip, read all about it in the Shreveport News here.

Meanwhile, KTBS-TV caught up with Fuller Center of Northwest Louisiana Lee Jeter for an update on the “Molly Build” in Bossier City — The Fuller Center’s 57th new home overall in the Shreveport metro area and the third in Bossier City. You can view that complete report below:

Latest TV, newspaper reports from the Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure

Latest TV, newspaper reports from the Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure

The Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure’s East Coast ride from Maine to Key West began on Saturday, while the cross-country ride is currently in Louisiana on its way from San Francisco to Savannah (where the two rides will meet for a celebration next month).

KTLA-TV caught up with the riders in Shreveport for this piece.

The Lawton Constitution had this recent report on the group’s visit.

 

Having a home for the holidays means everything to new parents in Shreveport

Having a home for the holidays means everything to new parents in Shreveport

Caden Lee Carter may never know what it’s like to spend the holidays in a substandard home. That’s because his parents — Roderick and Quinetta Carter — partnered with The Fuller Center for Housing to build a new home alongside dozens of volunteers at the 2015 Millard Fuller Legacy Build in Shreveport.

Their goal in the fall of 2015 was to provide a solid foundation for their son, who will turn 9 months old on Friday. Despite being pregnant, Quinetta happily put in the sweat equity in the building of their home, which sits in the Allendale neighborhood of Shreveport.

That they would have selected Allendale as the place to raise their son was unthinkable a little more than a decade ago. When Fuller Center founder Millard Fuller was asked to help alleviate a housing crisis in the city after an influx of refugees from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, he decided that Shreveport would be the first city to see Fuller Center homes rise in the U.S. City officials and law enforcement authorities at the time, however, warned Fuller that there was one area where he should not work and they could not guarantee safety — Allendale, an area so beset by drugs, prostitution and violent crime that it was considered beyond hope.

True to form, Millard Fuller responded, “Well, in that case, we’ll work in Allendale.”

Allendale is a proud neighborhood of choice where major crime has fallen more than 80 percent.

He believed no person, no family, no neighborhood, no city was beyond hope. And he more than proved his point with the resurrection of Allendale. A few dozen new homes and 11 years later, Allendale is a proud neighborhood of choice where major crime has fallen more than 80 percent. The neighborhood that Quinetta had once struggled to escape is the very one she returned to for her son’s sake.

“It’s very different,” she said. “We used to live in Allendale when it was a bad neighborhood and drug-infested. I see a big difference in Allendale. It’s much quieter. No one is hanging out on the corners like they used to. You don’t see violence like you did back then.”

Quinetta works for a local call center, while Roderick works at Wal-Mart. He said the close-knit community is quiet and that his neighbors are like family. With the new baby and new home, the Carters are seeing the holidays as a time of joy rather than one of stress and worry.

“We had Thanksgiving at the house, and it was a different experience,” Roderick said. “We had a lot of friends and family over, and they loved the house. It’s just wonderful, and we’re getting ready to decorate for Christmas.”

To help more families start with
a solid foundation, click here


 

RELATED VIDEO: A look back at the 2015 Millard Fuller Legacy Build

YouthBuild grant continues relationship with Fuller Center in Shreveport, Louisiana

YouthBuild grant continues relationship with Fuller Center in Shreveport, Louisiana

Southern University at Shreveport is receiving a $989,579 grant — part of more than $80 million in grants by the U.S. Department of Labor across 35 states — to continue the YouthBuild Shreveport program, which supports academic and occupational skills training for opportunity youth. Participating youth ages 16-24 can earn their high school equivalency diploma through non-traditional classroom experiences and service-learning projects while receiving on-the-job training in construction skills trades. In Shreveport, YouthBuild students have been learning construction skills by partnering with The Fuller Center for Housing of Northwest Louisiana.

Shreveport Times reports on Allendale’s rise from ‘food desert’ status

Shreveport Times reports on Allendale’s rise from ‘food desert’ status

The first Fuller Center homes built in the United States were in Shreveport’s Allendale community, a neighborhood so afflicted with crime and drugs that the police asked Millard Fuller not to work there as people’s safety could not be guaranteed.

Naturally, true to Millard’s way, that’s exactly where he chose to begin work.

More than 10 years and dozens of homes later, Allendale has seen a complete transformation and has become a neighborhood of choice. One of those who has witnessed that transformation up close is Rose Chaffold, who started the Allendale Garden of Hope and Love in the very spot where drug dealers once handled transactions.

Ms. Rose is featured in this Shreveport Times story about people and organizations who are helping transform food deserts such as Allendale, which now also boasts a Fuller Center grocery in addition to community gardens like Ms. Rose, whom you can meet in the video below: