(Photo: Robin Pierre is set to become the next executive director of The Chattahoochee Fuller Center Project, just seven years after become a Fuller Center homeowner herself.)
This dedication day one of new beginnings — for homeowners and leaders
OPELIKA, Alabama — When three new homeowner partners receive Bibles and the keys to their homes as today’s Millard Fuller Legacy Build dedications begin at 3 p.m. CDT, it signals a new life for themselves and their families. They will know the joy, empowerment and security that having an affordable home brings.
Robin Pierre knows exactly how they feel.
Robin and her husband Max came to Alabama from Salem, Massachusetts, in 2015 to live with her father after the couple fell on hard times. They thought it would be a temporary stay, but they fell in love with the area.
“We just loved it from day one and decided we were going to stay here and make it our home,” she said. “The people are so friendly here. They welcomed us with open arms. And we love the weather here. We love being in the South. We really do.”
It was not long before she met Chattahoochee Fuller Center Project Executive Director Kim Roberts. Before long, she was volunteering with the CFCP.
“My first job volunteering was at the women’s build, and I learned how to do the soffit,” Pierre said of the material that covers the underside of a roof overhang.
(The 2015 Lind-A-Hand Women’s Build honored Fuller Center co-founder Linda Fuller. See more photos from the build at this link.)
The next year, the Chattahoochee Fuller Center Project hosted the Millard Fuller Legacy Build, where they would build three new homes in Valley, Alabama. They also were going to flip a property in adjacent Lanett and make it like-new. Roberts told the Pierres that they could become homeowner partners in that project if they wished. The couple was ecstatic.
“Being a homeowner, it meant the world to me,” Pierre said before taking a moment to compose herself and wipe away tears. “I was a homeowner back in Massachusetts before we fell on rough times.”
She and Max dove into the rehab process alongside Legacy Build volunteers and house co-captains Bob Pack and Chuck Lee. It was a huge leap from installing soffit.
“I was thrown into the wolves, and that’s how I learned,” Pierre remembers. “It was amazing to see how the houses were built and how they did the flip at the same time. They made the flip almost brand new like they did the houses.”
Max and Robin, who celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary in May of this year, are proud to still call that “flip” home. Since then, Pierre has been a fixture in the community as Roberts’ assistant. She has helped Roberts organize countless builds and projects while also helping the Chattahoochee Fuller Center Project’s ReUse Store thrive. The store’s proceeds go directly to the CFCP’s construction fund.
The 2023 Millard Fuller Legacy Build, however, will be Pierre’s final one as an assistant. She will be replacing Roberts, who is stepping down as executive director of the CFCP following the build, though she will remain involved as she focuses her efforts on working with existing Fuller Center homeowner to ensure their continued success.
Pierre says she’s learned from the best.
“The main thing I’ve learned from Kim is how to love the Lord more and how to work with families, how to work with the volunteers and just how to come out of my shell,” she said. “I’m slowly coming out of my shell because I’m very quiet and low-key. I was very quiet. I wasn’t one to go up to go up and start talking to people or introducing myself.”
During her years assisting Roberts, she saw up-close the passionate leadership skills that helped the Chattahoochee Fuller Center Project become The Fuller Center’s No. 1 builder of new homes in the United States. One of the three homes dedicated at this week’s Legacy Build will be their 80th new home. Because of that success, Pierre sees no need to reinvent the wheel as she fills Roberts’ legendary shoes.
“I just want to keep The Fuller Center going just as Kim did and follow in her footsteps,” she said. “I just want to keep going forward and building and get these families the affordable housing that they need.”