Macon mom, children and volunteers transform house into like-new home

Macon mom, children and volunteers transform house into like-new home

The Fuller Center for Housing of Macon, Georgia, is leading the way in the city’s effort to reduce blight and help families have simple, decent places to live. The Fuller Center of Macon’s latest project was dedicated on Sunday for a hard-working mother of four children — all of whom took pride in working alongside local volunteers and Fuller Center U.S. Builders teams from out of state to transform another once-blighted house in the Napier Heights area into a beautiful, like-new home. WXGA-TV has this report from dedication day, in addition to the following video from The Fuller Center of Macon.

Catholic Order of Foresters volunteers put faith into action on U.S. Builders trip to Georgia

Catholic Order of Foresters volunteers put faith into action on U.S. Builders trip to Georgia

The Catholic Order of Foresters is much more than a life insurance company. Their mission is to help their 114,000 members achieve financial security while supporting the community through fraternal outreach with the motto “Bringing Catholic values to life.”


One of those helping bring those values to life is Brittany Demendi, Fraternal Outreach Coordinator.

“One of the benefits we offer members is planning mission trips,” said Demendi, who is leading a group of 13 volunteers on a Fuller Center U.S. Builders trip hosted by the Albany (Georgia) Area Fuller Center for Housing.

While the main agenda is to serve people in need by putting faith into action, these mission trips offer volunteers new ways to see God’s love at work.

“One of the things we ask during the week and each night at reflections is, ‘Where did you see God today?'” Demendi said.


Father Samuel Schneider of Wisconsin sees God in many places on this trip, especially in the families with whom the group was building homes in Americus.

“It’s always great to see what’s going on in different parts of the country,” he said. “I’m just grateful to be able to be here, to be with Georgians. That’s one of the best parts. It’s beautiful to be able to interact with the people and see their faith and also the impact.”

Here’s a gallery from the group’s work day in Americus on Wednesday:

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VIDEO: Storm recovery in Albany, Georgia — how you can help

UPDATE (Jan. 24, 2017): As Albany was still recovering from this early-January storm, a far more devastating tornado struck the east side of the city, killing at least four people and causing extensive damage. If you would like to support the Albany Area Fuller Center, you can do so at this link:


On January 2, 2017, Albany, Georgia, was struck by massive storms and strong winds that toppled trees and damaged homes throughout the city. The storm did not discriminate, striking poor and wealthy neighborhoods alike.

The Albany Area Fuller Center for Housing has been working with teams from the city, churches, volunteers and others — including staffers from The Fuller Center for Housing’s international headquarters, which sits about a 45-minute drive north of Albany — to assist in debris removal and other cleanup projects.

More than two weeks after the storm, some households are still without power, but the problems for those lacking in insurance or other resources will persist for weeks and months. The Albany Area Fuller Center will be partnering with residents in need of a hand-up as they make repairs. Stacey Odom-Driggers, The Fuller Center’s Director of U.S. Covenant Partner Development and a board member of the Albany partner, said that they will be looking to host more U.S. Builders teams to volunteer in the recovery and are encouraging those wishing to donate to the recovery to do so at their webpage here:

Highland Hills Baptist volunteers put finishing touches on Macon, Georgia, home

Highland Hills Baptist volunteers put finishing touches on Macon, Georgia, home

A family of five in Macon, Georgia, is set to move into a once-vacant, former eyesore of a house that Fuller Center for Housing volunteers from the local community and teams of U.S. Builders who came from as far away as Chicago and Virginia.

The move-in is set for this coming weekend thanks to the final group of volunteers, from Macon’s own Highland Hills Baptist Church. WMAZ-TV of Macon reports below on the group, which included a WMAZ meterologist and personality among its crew.


Illinois church members spend week helping family in Macon, Georgia

Illinois church members spend week helping family in Macon, Georgia

When groups spend a week building homes alongside families in need through The Fuller Center for Housing’s U.S. Builders program, it’s a mission trip that involves plenty of physical labor.

In other words, it’s no day at the beach. But that’s just fine with people like David Burgener, one of 28 members from St. Peter’s United Church of Christ of Elmhurst, Ill., who spent last week renovating a once-vacant property in Macon, Ga., that will soon be home for a family of five.

Claudia and David Burgener

Claudia and David Burgener

“I can lie on the beach for maybe one or two days, then I get bored,” Burgener said. “Here, I’m never bored because there’s always something to do and somebody asking what they can do next. This is much more relaxing than sitting on the beach.”

This is the fourth such mission trip he has taken with his wife, Claudia, through St. Peter’s, although they do other service work in their local community.

“It’s a week away from the winter weather in Chicago, and for me it’s really more of a vacation than it is work,” he added. “While I may be physically exhausted at the end of the week, it’s better than being mentally exhausted after a week at the office.”

The Burgeners and their fellow church members were renovating a three-bedroom, two-bath brick home built in 1959 that had sat empty and deteriorating for years. Wells Fargo donated the property to The Fuller Center for Housing of Macon, Georgia through its Community & Urban Stabilization Program (CUSP). The Fuller Center will turn the property into a like-new home for Adrian and Thomas Redding and their three children through the Save a House/Make a Home program.

“I’ve never met so many wonderful people in my life. Working around them and being with them, it’s so nice that words can’t explain.” — Thomas Redding, homeowner partner

“This house had good bones,” said Dianne Fuller, executive director of The Fuller Center of Macon. “Since we had not received a home through that program, I think they wanted to give it to someone who had not received one yet and gave it to us. And this family seemed to match this house and what this house had to offer. One of the factors that matched this family well is that the children already attended the school in this district (Lane Elementary), which is less than a half-mile from here.”

Adrian and Thomas Redding

Adrian and Thomas Redding

“This program is a blessing,” said Adrian Redding, whose family of five is currently sharing an apartment with her mother and three sisters. “And because they don’t charge interest, it’s a lot less than renting. And it’s right down the street from my kids’ school.”

“It’s wonderful,” added Thomas Redding, who works as a cook at a nearby restaurant while Adrian nurses a heart problem that recently resurfaced. “I’ve never met so many wonderful people in my life. Working around them and being with them, it’s so nice that words can’t explain. We love what they’re doing for us.”

While it may have had good bones, there’s a reasons the Matthews Drive property was donated to the nonprofit. Years of neglect took their toll on the house and the surrounding property. The team from Illinois made tremendous strides, but there still will be plenty of work for volunteers who will be on site March 19 for a one-day build event to celebrate Fuller Center co-founder Linda Fuller’s 75th birthday.

“We took one look and said, ‘We can’t do this one,'” Claudia Burgener said. “There was so many things wrong, and it was so dirty. It was a lot of stuff.”

“It’s improved a lot,”.Adrian Redding said as she painted alongside the volunteers Friday. “They’ve done a lot of work.”

Volunteers and families develop a strong bond during such builds, partly due to The Fuller Center’s requirement that families perform “sweat equity” hours working alongside volunteers in the construction or repair of homes. That bond grew even stronger with this group on Thursday when the Reddings’ three children were presented with three new bicycles purchased with the support of a nonprofit in Illinois called New Bikes for Kids.

“This family is wonderful,” Claudia Burgener said. “We’ve had the opportunity to work side-by-side with them. One of them or more has been here every day. They started out very shy, but we’ve built a relationship with them that is going to stay in our hearts forever.”

While several members of the group had worked on multiple mission trips like this one, Carol Jones was on her first — for good reason: In previous years she could not pull away from her job as an educational assistant for a multi-needs classroom at a local high school.

“I retired two weeks ago, and I’m the type of person who needs to be needed,” Jones said. “This is something that’s been on a bucket list of mine. So I called, and someone had just dropped off the list and I took that place.”

While the bonds with the family are important, mission trips like those taken with The Fuller Center’s U.S. Builders and Global Builders programs also are an opportunity to strengthen ties within the team.

“Working with The Fuller Center is working out great for us,” said June Nikoleit, one of the more experienced members of the team. “We’re able to stay together as a group and get to know the community. We’re so overwhelmed with the graciousness of the people of Macon. It’s been a wonderful, welcoming week for us.

“The selfish part is that we get to spend time together serving, and that’s how we’ve built relationships within our group,” she added. “But we’re also building relationship with those in need — and really that’s all we need. We get so much more back than we’ve given.”


Check out some photos from the group’s work in Macon:

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