Chattahoochee Fuller Center Project’s 40th new home exemplifies ministry, partnerships

Chattahoochee Fuller Center Project’s 40th new home exemplifies ministry, partnerships

(Photo: Homeowners Rodney and Carmen Lott with the Chattahoochee Fuller Center Project’s Kim Roberts and Robin Pierre at Friday’s dedication.)

Just as Rodney and Carmen Lott tried to explain on Friday afternoon how the nearly complete new home just a few steps away from them would change their lives, they were interrupted. A florist was there to deliver a housewarming plant — a gift from their new next-door neighbor, Rachael.

They were getting used to such interruptions. Since volunteers began raising the walls on their new home just a few days earlier on June 18, 2018, the project was hit with a slew of positive surprises and unexpected blessings on a daily basis — in addition to all of the hard work and blessings that paved the way for the project in the first place.

The entire build was a conglomeration of everything that makes the Chattahoochee Fuller Center Project one of the most thriving in the United States. Another neighbor rode down the street to the work site along with his poodle on a zero-turn mower each morning to deliver waters for the dozens of volunteers, most of whom came from the Chattahoochee Valley, but a team of 10 came from Pennsylvania — including house leaders Barry and Amy Stuck. Several area churches supported the build and sent youth volunteers. Other volunteers included men from New Birth Ministries’ transitional program. Nearby West Point Mayor Steve Tramell also was a house leader. And Chambers County Sheriff Sid Lockhart grilled burgers for all of the volunteers on Friday’s dedication day. Dozens more, too many to list, also worked on the home.

In-kind gifts such as OSB from Norbord, shingles from World Vision, insulation (and employee volunteers) from Knauf, HVAC from 4 Seasons Heating and Air, countertops from A&X Granite & Marble, paint from Behr and enough Hardie Board for this home — plus two more planned for September — means the house will be even more affordable as the Lotts repay the costs of building the home with a zero-percent interest mortgage that will go toward helping others in the community get the same hand-up. The Lotts cannot wait to make their first payment.

“We realize how special this is — how much love this is,” Carmen said. “Everybody’s here. It’s been amazing. We didn’t quite realize what The Fuller Center did until we got involved. Now we’re excited about the next house and that we get to help.”

“It’s a fresh start,” added Rodney, who said they had been renters for the past ten years.”It’s a place to call our own, and it’ll be paid for in 20 years. I can’t even describe how humbling it is. We love The Fuller Center and encourage everyone to get involved.”

Chattahoochee Fuller Center President Curt Johnson said the teamwork and community involvement seen this week is no coincidence but the result of years of cultivating relationships and producing results. He added that this project’s homeowner partners have many friends throughout the community, only increasing the volunteer interest and financial support.

“We had so many people come together, so many businesses and so many industries, and a lot of our individual donors came forward when they found out who the homeowners were,” Johnson said.

“We so blessed to live in the community of Valley-West Point-Lanett,” CFCP Executive Director Kim Roberts said. “We’re called The Greater Valley for a reason. There’s a lot of great people here, a lot of great businesses. … It’s just been amazing to see, even with the heat, what can be done when a little bit of love is spread.”

Indeed, the heat was oppressive all week long, yet the volunteers and leaders fought through it and have the home nearly ready for the Lotts to move in — something they will do in July. Even though he and his Pennsylvania crew are more used to milder summer temperatures, house captain Barry Stuck had no complaints.

Pennsylvania crew

“Yeah, you’re tired and you’re sweaty, but it’s a sense of accomplishment that you’re really helping somebody, and the homeowners really appreciate it,” Stuck said. “It’s just the satisfaction of being able to work with a homeowner and just to help them maybe start a better life. They have a need, and we have a gift to be able to work with our hands. It’s just nice to be able to come and help them get a fresh start.”

“Oh, it has been sooo hot,” said Roberts, a lifelong Southerner. “We have been spoiled by the air-conditioner. But you know what — when you see people continue to work in this kind of weather, they love what they do.”

Like the CFCP’s Roberts, Rodney Lott is a double-amputee. The amputations were necessary to stop the spread of a bone disease.

“We’re soul buddies because we’re amputees,” he said of his relationship with Roberts, whom he first met at the CFCP’s ReUse Store in Lanett, Alabama, where items from furniture to tools to clothes can be found at huge discounts with profits benefiting the CFCP’s work. “I’ve known Kim for several years. Everything in our house came from the ReUse Store, just about.”

Also like Roberts, he deals with his condition with a sense of humor and a never-ending drive to serve others and share the love he has for everyone he meets.

“‘I fought a bone disease for years, and they were taking off a little at a time,” he recalls “We prayed about it and were sad for a minute, but it’s been a blessing. It’s allowed me to talk with people who are going to lose their leg or have lost a leg and don’t want to wear the prosthetics. God opened a door for me to talk with them.”

Each day of the blitz build — as with almost every Fuller Center build across the nation and around the world — began with a devotion. Friday was Rodney’s turn to deliver the devotion. He focused on one word: wanted.

“God doesn’t need us — He wants us,” Rodney said. “God didn’t need anybody here — He wanted these people here to show up to work. What a powerful word. We’ve seen all these people come out because they wanted to, because they love God. … It’s awesome just to be a child of God and just to know that there are people who love you.”

RELATED LINK: Valley Times-News editorial — “Millard Fuller would be proud of the CFCP”

Friday dedication day photo gallery:

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Red-hot build week has Chattahoochee Fuller Center Project nearly done with 40th new home

Red-hot build week has Chattahoochee Fuller Center Project nearly done with 40th new home

It’s been brutally hot for the dozens of local volunteers working on the new home for Carmen and Rodney Lott in Valley, Alabama, this week. You can imagine what the heat must feel like for house leaders Barry and Amy Stuck of Pennsylvania. Or, you can read Wayne Clark’s outstanding article in the Valley Times-News about the build that began with a slab on Monday, June 18, 2018. On Friday, June 22, volunteers, supporters, leaders and friends will gather at 3 p.m. to dedicate the Chattahoochee Fuller Center Project’s 40th new home build. We will have a complete follow-up report on the milestone build next week at FullerCenter.org.

Valley Times-News Article

Hospital employees building “Christmas present” for co-worker’s family

Hospital employees building “Christmas present” for co-worker’s family

Last month, volunteers turned an empty lot in West Point, Georgia, into a standing house with walls, a shingled roof, windows and doors. It was phase one of a two-week effort. Phase two begins this Monday as volunteers from East Alabama Medical Center-Lanier work all week to apply the finishing touches to a home for one of their own — Ruthshun Hall and her three daughters.

The home is the 38th new home project for the Chattahoochee Fuller Center Project and sits next door to its 37th, a home completed earlier this year during another two-week build for an Army veteran and her son who suffers from sickle-cell anemia. The house captain for the upcoming week of work on house No. 38 is none other than the city’s mayor, Steve Tramell, a veteran of many such projects with The Fuller Center.

“It’s my Christmas present,” Hall told the LaGrange Daily News. “I’ve always wanted to have a house that would one day be mine. It’s such a blessing to be able to own a home.”

Construction on the CFCP’s 39th new home, meanwhile, is scheduled to begin in February in nearby Valley, Alabama — also in partnership with an EAMC-Lanier employee.

The LaGrange Daily News has an excellent article on the Chattahoochee Fuller Center Project’s efforts at this link.

How an ailing child’s Christmas wish became a home for the holidays

How an ailing child’s Christmas wish became a home for the holidays

(Photo, from left: Homeowner partner/volunteer Robin Pierre, homeowner partner and Army veteran Carla Ross and Chattahoochee Fuller Center Project Executive Director Kim Roberts with K’Hairi outside the Ross’ new home in West Point, Georgia.)

K’Hairi has been going in and out of hospitals all eight of his years, just a fact of life with sickle-cell anemia and asthma. Coming home from the hospital used to mean going back to houses that were in terrible condition, exacerbating his health issues.

Yet, when K’Hairi would crawl upon Santa’s lap at the mall every Christmas, he did not wish for anything for himself — not for toys, not even for his sickle-cell to be wiped away. He simply told Santa that he wanted his mother, Army veteran Carla Ross, to have a good home.

Fortunately, Fuller Center for Housing supporters managed to do what Santa Claus could not. In June of this year, dozens of volunteers came together over two hot weeks in West Point, Georgia, to build a simple, decent, energy-efficient home in partnership with Carla and K’Hairi. With the exception of outstanding Minnesotan house captains Tim DuBois and Charlie Thell, it was a virtually all-local effort from the tri-city communities of Lanett and Valley, Alabama, and West Point.— three adjacent cities along the famous Chattahoochee River. Lanett, by the way, is the hometown of The Fuller Center’s founder, Millard Fuller.

“I wanted The Fuller Center to be the one to step up and give him that wish,” said Kim Roberts, Executive Director of the Chattahoochee Fuller Center Project, one of more than 70 local Fuller Center partners across the United States, in addition to 20 more around the world. “He deserved that wish. What a Christmas wish!”

“It was a lot of work — a lot of hard work was put into it,” Ross said recently as she reflected upon those couple of weeks in June and settling into the home in the weeks afterward. “But it makes you appreciate it more.”

“We were very blessed on this build — just to see K’Hairi’s smile. I think this is going to change his life, and it’s going to help his family.” — Kim Roberts, Executive Director, Chattahoochee Fuller Center Project

Ross has worked multiple jobs and been furthering her education since leaving the Army. She is not the type to look for a handout, which made her an excellent fit to partner with The Fuller Center for Housing. Homeowner partners not only must contribute sweat equity in the building of their homes, but they also must repay the costs of materials on terms they can afford — at zero-percent interest with no profit made — into a Fund for Humanity to help others in her community get the same hand-up. In fact, Ross’ home was the 37th new house built by the Chattahoochee Fuller Center Project, and she can see those payments at work right next door today as CFCP broke ground on house No. 38 earlier this week.

“It’s not given to you,” said Ross, echoing a feeling many military veterans have expressed about preferring a hand-up from The Fuller Center over a handout. “It’s not free. The labor doesn’t cost anything, but it’s not free. But we don’t have to pay all the extra stuff and interest. We’re just paying for the house itself. That’s exciting.”

“Our veterans deserve a decent place to live,” said Roberts, who added that a $25,000 grant from Home Depot helped make this project possible. “Home Depot loves our veterans. If it wasn’t for our veterans, we probably wouldn’t be standing here today being able to speak what we want to say. I thank Carla for that — and for being a wonderful mom to K’Hairi and taking very good care of him.”

Not only is Ross’ zero-interest mortgage payment hundreds of dollars less than that for which she could rent a substandard property, but she will someday own the home outright. As theologian Clarence Jordan (a mentor to Millard Fuller) once said: “What the poor need is not charity, but capital; not case workers, but co-workers.”

Another financial benefit is that new Fuller Center homes are extremely energy-efficient. With K’Hairi’s health issues, they cannot allow their home’s air to become thick, muggy and stale in the Georgia heat. Ross understood the home would be energy-efficient, but she still experienced reverse sticker shock when she got her first utility bill this past summer. She was certain she had been undercharged by the power company.

“There was a $300 difference,” she recalled. “I was like, ‘Are you sure this is for the whole month?’ It’s a really big difference.”

The Ross build provided a spiritual lift for the entire community. For Roberts, seeing K’Hairi’s wish come true and the community support that made it happen is the kind of positive story that makes the daily struggles of running a nonprofit worthwhile.

“It was just amazing to see the way the local community came out to support this — just to give K’Hairi a decent place to live,” Roberts said. “You know, when you feel bad or are sick, you need a decent place to lay your head. We wanted K’Hairi to have that.

“We were very blessed on this build — just to see K’Hairi’s smile,” she added. “I think this is going to change his life, and it’s going to help his family.”

Of course, now that K’Hairi and his mother have a simple, decent home to spend the holidays, he is free to ask Santa Claus for something else this Christmas. When asked what will be on his wish list this year, K’Hairi thought for a moment and then responded earnestly:

“I wish every kid in the world had a good home, too.”

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Click here to support K’Hairi’s new wish

 

 

Legacy Build homeowner partner gifted house full of new furniture

Legacy Build homeowner partner gifted house full of new furniture

When 86-year-old Bertha Moore learned she had been selected to partner with The Fuller Center for Housing to build a new home at September’s Millard Fuller Legacy Build in Valley, Alabama, she was thankful to be in line for a safe home to replace the problematic home where she had lived for the past 62 years. When the home was dedicated a week later and she soon moved in, she was emotional, grateful and believed this was as good as it gets. The blessings, though, have kept coming for a woman who has given so much to her community. Now, she has a home full of new furniture, courtesy of a furniture store owner, Jeff Fulghum, who also happened to be one of the volunteers who spent a week helping build her new home as one of her house captains. The LaGrange Daily News reports on Fulghum’s generous gift at the link below.

Complete LaGrange Daily News story

WRBL-TV reports on final day of 2016 Millard Fuller Legacy Build in Valley, Alabama

WRBL-TV reports on final day of 2016 Millard Fuller Legacy Build in Valley, Alabama

Three new homes and one major renovation were dedicated on Friday — the final day of the 2016 Millard Fuller Legacy Build in Valley, Alabama. In this report from WRBL-TV, homeowner partner LaTonya Whitlow talks about her week of building, while 16-year-old Jasmine Luedi discusses what it meant to spend a week of building to honor her grandfather, Millard Fuller.

 

 

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Valley Mayor Leonard Riley happy to see Fuller Center volunteers transform land

Valley Mayor Leonard Riley happy to see Fuller Center volunteers transform land

The lots where volunteers are building three new homes for families during this week’s Millard Fuller Legacy Build in Valley, Alabama, were eyesores not long ago. They once were home to dilapidated trailers and then to weeds. Now, three beautiful new homes are rising in the hot Alabama sun.

This build was made possible in large part by the donation of the three lots by the City of Valley. We talked with Valley Mayor Leonard Riley and Chattahoochee Fuller Center Project Director Kim Roberts today about how working together is benefiting local families:

 

 

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A chat with retired A.M.E. Bishop Preston Williams, 2016 Millard Fuller Legacy Build volunteer

A chat with retired A.M.E. Bishop Preston Williams, 2016 Millard Fuller Legacy Build volunteer

More than 1,500 people, including dignitaries such as former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, helped celebrate the work of Bishop Preston Williams last year when he retired from the ministry — including election as President of the Global Council of Bishops of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 2006.

Hailing from the little South Georgia town of Willacoochee, Bishop Williams would go on to help another South Georgian rise to a presidency of his own as he served on the Inaugural Committee for President Jimmy Carter in 1976. His work would take him to Atlanta, Africa and, in his most recent post, South Carolina, as Presiding Prelate of the A.M.E.’s 7th Episcopal District, covering most of the state of South Carolina.

He always has had a heart for helping people have decent places to live. While serving as Senior Pastor at Atlanta’s Allen Temple A.M.E. Church in the late 1990s, he worked with the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development on the renovation of more than 600 Atlanta-area apartment units. Before that, he served as pastor of Atlanta’s St. Paul’s A.M.E. Church for 16 years, where his many accomplishments included leading the building ofa new Family Life Center and a 33-unit apartment complex used to house homeless mothers and their children.

So, it was a blessing — but not necessarily a surprise — to see the Bishop swinging a hammer with dozens of other volunteers at the 2016 Millard Fuller Legacy Build in Valley, Alabama, this week. In fact, while he may be retired from the ministry, his dedication to Christian service continues to grow, and he was in Valley to glean insight and inspiration from Fuller Center for Housing leaders as he looks to the future.

We spoke with the Bishop this morning about why he and his son, physicist Arnold Andre Williams, decided to help build homes at this year’s build. Here’s a video of our 3-minute chat today:

 

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