By Chris Johnson,
Director of Communications
This work brings a lot of joy, and we get to meet some of the most generous people in the world — whether they are giving of their time, money or both. And we had great reason to rejoice this week as a couple of tremendous individual supporters gave tremendous boosts to our ministry in the past week,
First, we got a $40,000 gift from Dr. Richard Semmler to match your donations to our 40 Years in Africa campaign. Dr. Semmler has donated more than $100,000 to The Fuller Center in the past three years and has given more than $1.3 million to charities in his lifetime. And we’re not talking about a Donald Trump here. Dr. Semmler is a math professor who lives frugally and works part-time jobs so that he will have more to give. In fact, the man has NEVER taken a vacation. Amazing! (Read more about Dr. Semmler’s gift here.)
The donation brought great joy as it helps us further our work, as every single donation does. But, like everyone else, our hearts also sank on Monday as we saw images of the devastating tornado that struck Moore, Oklahoma, killing two dozen people and destroying thousands of homes. Our prayers go out to everyone affected by that disaster.
This came the same week Joplin, Missouri, marked the two-year anniversary of an equally massive tornado that killed 161 people and cut a swath of destruction through that city. The Fuller Center for Housing of Joplin formed later that year and dedicated its third new home build this week. The fourth will begin soon. Once the dust settles on such disasters, we would love for leaders in these communities to invite The Fuller Center in for the long-term recovery. We stand ready to help.
Disasters come in many forms. There are the instant disasters that struck Moore and Joplin. Then there are the slightly less instant but equally intense hurricanes like Katrina and Sandy, whose damage led us to the Jersey Shore this year for the Millard Fuller Legacy Build. And there’s the prolonged, less-covered disasters like the foreclosure crisis and poverty housing in general that we address most of all around the world.
We are not a disaster relief ministry. There are many of those, and they do wonderful work. We are a long-term ministry. Whether its helping a Haitian family who lost their home in an earthquake, or giving a hard-working family a chance to own their own home, or making repairs on an elderly woman’s home, we are out there for the long haul — whether it’s well-known disaster sites like Joplin and Haiti, bigger cities like Atlanta and Miami or small towns like Greenwood, Mississippi and Harrison, Arkansas.
Meanwhile, our prayers and best wishes go out to those affected by disasters and the relief agencies who work tirelessly in the immediate aftermath. We also pray for the continued success of The Fuller Center’s long-term efforts to address the hidden disaster of poverty housing. Along with your prayers for the same, we also need your support, through volunteering or donations.
You don’t have to wait for a tornado, hurricane or earthquake to respond to a disaster. America has a housing disaster on its hands. But you can make a difference — today, and tomorrow.