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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Couple in Lanett, AL having an “indescribable” experience at Legacy Build

Couple in Lanett, AL having an “indescribable” experience at Legacy Build

Two years ago Max and Robin Pierre relocated from their home in Massachusetts to the town of Lanett, AL to be closer to Robin’s father.

Shortly after moving to Valley, Robin’s father introduced her to Kim Roberts, director of the Chattahoochee Valley Fuller Center Project. The two became fast friends, and Robin began volunteering with the Fuller Center before and after her job at Circle K.

“The first home I helped build was the Women’s Build last year and it was phenomenal,” says Robin of her involvement with the Fuller Center. The 2015 build in Lanett, AL was staffed by an all-female crew, who built a home from the ground up.

Meanwhile, her own home was in disarray. “One of the rooms is completely covered in mold and I’m a severe asthmatic,” described Robin. “The living room leaks when it rains, and the floor is soft from the termites. The ceiling is ready to fall down in a couple spots,” continued Max.

After being a volunteer for nearly a year, things began to change for Robin. After hearing that the Pierre’s were in search of a new living situation, Kim realized she had a possible solution in a Fuller Center home that was in need of rehabilitation.

“We filled out the paperwork to see if we qualified and we were approved for it, so it’s wonderful. I’m amazed,” Robin expressed.

The rehabilitation of the home is a project for volunteers during this week’s annual Millard Fuller Legacy Build. Among the crowd of volunteers around the home is Max Pierre himself, cutting wood, hammering nails, and taking it all in.

Watching his home’s progress has been remarkable for Max. “Its kind of indescribable, watching it come from what it was to what it is now and what I know it is going to be. I know we’re getting the keys on Friday but it’s going to be a shock once that happens. I can’t believe it.”

Several Legacy Build volunteers talk about their week of Christian service

Several Legacy Build volunteers talk about their week of Christian service

Dozens of volunteers from across the nation are working in unseasonably hot Valley, Alabama, this week to help four families have simple, decent places to lie during the 2016 Millard Fuller Legacy Build. Actually, it’s the second half of a Legacy Build double-feature as a dozen Armenian families got new homes during the international portion of the Legacy Build in July.

Some of these volunteers come from the local Chattahoochee Valley community, which includes adjacent Lanett, Alabama, Millard Fuller’s hometown. Most are from out of state and include expert builders and enthusiastic less-skilled friends and family. Others have come after getting acquainted with The Fuller Center’s affordable housing ministry through the Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure or the Fuller Center Global Builders program.

But all are here to put faith into action. As Millard liked to paraphrase from the Bible — “Faith without works is as dead as a doornail!”

Meet several of the volunteers who spoke with us about putting their faith into action this week:


 

A.J. Jewell
A.J. Jewell, left, has been a house leader on multiple Fuller Center builds.

A.J. Jewell (left) has been a house leader on multiple Fuller Center builds. We asked A.J. why he chooses to spend such an intense week working to help others.

We get the satisfaction of helping somebody, of helping God’s people in need. We’re getting to spend some God-given time helping God’s people in need and that’s what life is all about — helping each other through this thing that we call life.


 

Douglas Wall
Douglas Wall (center) is a night-shift nurse at East Alabama Medical Center-Lanier who showed up on site Tuesday morning after learning about the build from a hospital email.

Douglas Wall (center) is a night-shift nurse at East Alabama Medical Center-Lanier who showed up on site Tuesday morning after learning about the build from a hospital email. We asked Douglas what led him to show up out of the blue on Tuesday.

I used to work with Habitat before, and it’s been a while since I’ve gotten to do this. This is really exciting, and I’m happy to be here. It brings back great memories, and it’s beautiful weather. I’m thankful to be here with great people, building houses. It’s really fun. And it’s very well-organized — The Fuller Center has done a great job organizing this build.


 

Chuck Lee
Chuck Lee is a house leader on the rehab project of the build, along with his friend Bob Pack. We asked Chuck why he volunteered to help lead the rehab project when many volunteers prefer to build a new home.

Chuck Lee is a house leader on the rehab project of the build, along with his friend Bob Pack. We asked Chuck why he volunteered to help lead the rehab project when many volunteers prefer to build a new home.

Of course, I come with Bob Pack, and he is really the leader, and we just really enjoy doing the rehabs versus the new houses. I kind of like it because I learn new things that I can take back home. I guess I can identify with it as far as doing the rehab and repair work. I just enjoy it.


 

Susie Graber
A veteran of multiple Fuller Center builds at the age of 81, Susie Graber is always happy to be working on a home. We asked her what keeps her — along with husband Merle and several other family members — coming back for more Fuller Center builds.

A veteran of multiple Fuller Center builds at the age of 81, Susie Graber is always happy to be working on a home. We asked her what keeps her — along with husband Merle and several other family members — coming back for more Fuller Center builds.

I guess it’s just being around other people that have the same desire to serve. It’s just a good feeling to have the homeowners be so happy with their house. It’s just a blessing that the good Lord gives us that we can do this and the health that we can still do it. I’m just thankful that I can still do a little bit. Every little bit helps. A decent home to live in is so important.


 

Dan Bosovich
Dan Bosovich (right) talks with homeowner Max Pierre, whose house is undergoing major renovations this week. Dan is also a dedicated Global Builders volunteer, so we asked him why he also enjoys his international volunteering, as well as working here in the U.S.

Dan Bosovich (right) talks with homeowner Max Pierre, whose house is undergoing major renovations this week. Dan is also a dedicated Global Builders volunteer, so we asked him why he also enjoys his international volunteering, as well as working here in the U.S.

These are people and places you would never meet or see. I would never go to Armenia if it weren’t for The Fuller Center and being able to help these people. It’s just a great experience. But we’re still helping people in the United States. You see how those people live in these other countries, and they don’t have all these modern conveniences. It just gives you a great perspective on how other people live in other parts of the world. It helps you as a person get a better idea of what’s going on outside of the little area where you’re at all the time.


 

Karen “Toolie” Warkentien
Karen Warkentien (right) poses with friends Eddie and Nicetas Proctor at the Legacy Build. Better known as "Toolie," Karen started as a volunteer but now also serves as a member of The Fuller Center's International Board of Directors. We asked her about why it is important for her to continue volunteering while also serving as a board member.

Karen Warkentien (right) poses with friends Eddie and Nicetas Proctor at the Legacy Build. Better known as “Toolie,” Karen started as a volunteer but now also serves as a member of The Fuller Center’s International Board of Directors. We asked her about why it is important for her to continue volunteering while also serving as a board member.

You’ve got to lead by example, and the way to do this ministry is by getting your hands dirty — and coming out and meeting homeowners and working together and communing with other folks who have the same goal. We’re going to give a hand-up to some deserving families this week, and it’s going to be a wonderful experience.