Groups help Fuller Center build ramps, make repairs for veterans in Louisiana

Groups help Fuller Center build ramps, make repairs for veterans in Louisiana

(Photo: Vietnam veteran Joe Simms Stafford’s home in Independence, Louisiana, was flooded in August 2016.)

With the help of a group from First Presbyterian Church of Rumson, N.J., the Ginger Ford Northshore Fuller Center for Housing built a ramp for an Army veteran in Hammond, Louisiana, on Friday, and then teamed up with volunteers from Rebuilding Together and Charter Spectrum to build a ramp and make repairs for a Vietnam veteran in Independence, Louisiana, on Saturday.

Ginger Ford Northshore Executive Director Tamara Danel reported live from the scene Saturday in a video that you can view here. Meanwhile, the Hammond Daily Star reported on both of the projects — click here for the report on Friday’s work and click here for the report from Saturday. Below are a few photos from the two days of work:

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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

 

 

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

Disabled Army veteran says becoming homeowner “a dream come true”

Disabled Army veteran says becoming homeowner “a dream come true”

Gavin Billbe is a disabled Army veteran who never thought he would have the opportunity to own his own home, but thanks to one of The Fuller Center for Housing’s newest partners — the Community Mission of Minersville, Pennsylvania — and the generous donor of a vacant property that just needs a little fixing up, Billbe will soon have a dream fulfilled. WNEP-TV has a new report on how a pastor’s determination to help the homeless have decent places to live through The Fuller Center’s affordable housing ministry has given Billbe an opportunity he never thought possible until now:

VIDEO: K’Hairi’s Christmas Wish Build dedication in West Point, Georgia

VIDEO: K’Hairi’s Christmas Wish Build dedication in West Point, Georgia

(Photo: Carla Ross hugs her house leaders Charlie Thell (left) and Tim DuBois as 7-year-old son K’Hairi looks on during the June 23, 2017, dedication of her new Fuller Center home.)

A few months ago, we told you about K’Hairi, a 7-year-old boy who suffers from sickle-cell and asthma and asked Santa Claus for one thing every Christmas — for his mother to have a decent place to live.

A couple of weeks ago, we told you about that wish coming true in earnest as volunteers began raising the walls on a new Fuller Center home for K’Hairi and his mom — Army veteran Carla Ross — in West Point, Georgia, at the start of a two-week blitz build that brought the community together in ways they will never forget.

Today, we are sharing a video we received from our friends at the Chattahoochee Fuller Center Project featuring the dedication ceremony for their 37th house. Congratulations to Carla Ross, K’Hairi, CFCP Executive Director Kim Roberts, house leaders Tim DuBois and Charlie Thell, West Point Mayor Steve Tramell, and the many other volunteers and supporters who came together to make this project possible!

Military, federal workers can support Fuller Center through Combined Federal Campaign

Military, federal workers can support Fuller Center through Combined Federal Campaign

Continuing a 55-year tradition of supporting nonprofits across America, the annual Combined Federal Campaign is now under way. The CFC encourages military personnel and federal employees to support charities through automatic payroll deductions.

Once again, The Fuller Center for Housing is participating in the CFC. Those wishing to support The Fuller Center’s work — which often includes helping veterans have simple, decent places to live through new home construction and existing home repairs — can look for the nonprofit’s member No. 32548 in the CFC’s list of approved charities.

The Fuller Center is a Christian affordable housing ministry that practices enlightened charity, working in partnership with its homeowners rather than treating them as charity cases. Fuller Center homeowner partners work alongside volunteers to build and repair their homes, contributing sweat equity and then repaying the costs of materials over time, on terms they can afford to pay with no interest charged and no profit made. They are givers themselves instead of charity recipients as their repayments go into a fund to be recycled in the local community by helping others get a similar hand-up. While some charities claim to offer a hand-up instead of a handout, it is the very essence of how The Fuller Center operates.

“Veterans have pride. They don’t want anybody looking down on them with pity. All they want is a fair opportunity — and I can speak to that as a 21-year Marine myself.” — Lee Jeter, Executive Director of the Northwest Louisiana Fuller Center for Housing

For Lee Jeter, a Marine Corps veteran who now runs the Northwest Louisiana Fuller Center for Housing (one of the more than 70 Fuller Center covenant partners in the U.S.), that hand-up principle is important to him and the many veterans with whom he has worked to build homes in Shreveport and Bossier City.

“That’s what every veteran wants — every veteran wants to have some skin in the game, so to speak,” Jeter said. “They’re not used to people just giving them anything. They want to earn their keep. Veterans have pride. They don’t want anybody looking down on them with pity. All they want is a fair opportunity — and I can speak to that as a 21-year Marine myself. All they want is an opportunity to prove themselves. That’s all they need — and that’s what we’re providing — that opportunity to become whole again.”

The Fuller Center encourages the CFC’s generous donors to take a close look at any charity before choosing to support it. The Fuller Center meets all 20 standards as a member of the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance and has received the highest-level Platinum rating for transparency from GuideStar. In fiscal year 2016, 86 percent of all expenditures went to the ministry’s work in the field.

“We are proud to partner with our families and with the thousands of good-hearted federal employees and military personnel who serve our great country,” Fuller Center President David Snell said. “We are honored to provide an avenue through which caring people can provide a helping hand to their fellow Americans in need — a helping hand that uplifts and empowers families and individuals.”

President Snell adds that before giving to any charity, donors should do their research and encourages everyone to learn more about The Fuller Center’s mission, principles, history and financials by viewing and/or downloading the ministry’s latest 8-page case statement at this link.

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