Friday, September 4, 2009

Final Q & A: Linda Fuller

This photo by Cris Lappin shows Linda between Gresham Brooks and Sue Meadows Auchmuty. Brooks' new home was sponsored in honor of Auchmuty.

What has been your favorite thing this week?

It’s difficult to say because EVERYTHING has been awesome. Extra special have been being with so many energetic personal friends and Fuller Center builders. Also, I have been rooming with my incredible daughter Faith who has organized an awesome communications team. I am simply one member of her team…working with photos. That’s another favorite thing – there have been literally thousands of pictures made this week by volunteers Christine Lappin and Mary Lou Johnson. By working with photos and posting them on the Fuller Center website, I can see what is going on at all of the houses without moving farther than my computer.

What do you think of when you think of Millard’s legacy?

I believe we have sensed Millard’s presence and enthusiasm with us this week. It was so contagious that enough people have caught this incurable condition. It’s called the Theology of the Hammer and it will live on and on. Abraham Lincoln said: “In the end, it is not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” Truly, Millard put every ounce of life in his years to help those needing a hand-up…and, he inspired millions to do likewise.

What does home mean to you?

No matter where I travel or how long I stay at a beautiful place, I am always so happy to get back home. Millard especially loved being home because he traveled more than I. When we built the “home of our dreams” on six wooded acres on a lake, it was a perfect retreat for us. We found joy and relaxation working together in the yard or clearing brush. Standing around a fire at sunset with soot on our faces was some of our best times to fall deeper in love. Since his death, I have planted flowers in the yard…for him. I have the privilege of working in his study. So home is where I live and also work. My beautiful black shorthair cat, Pepe, is my snuggly companion. How very blessed I am to have such comfort, love and beauty around me at home.


Six homes and eight Greater Blessing projects will be dedicated at 2 p.m. this afternoon.

Homeowners, project coordinators, and many other wonderful people involved in this week's success will be speaking. Included in the lineup: David Snell, Linda Fuller, Seth Kujat, Darren Kelley, Bill Scott and more. Bibles and Greater Blessing Boxes will be presented to homeowners and their families.

Mayor of Lanett, Ala., Oscar Crawley will be speaking.

Read more about the homeowners here.

Don't miss any stories, videos or photos.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Day 4 Q & A

Shakeil McCants
Lanett, Ala.
Homeowner, House # 22

What’s been your favorite part of the build so far?

Actually my favorite part was having them put those walls up on Monday. We came on Monday and we were standing on just foundation. And so actually seeing the walls go up and it all come together, within a couple hours? I’ve never seen that done before. So that’s my favorite part of the build.

What are you looking forward to most about having a home?

Raising my kids up in it. I’ll be able to say I have stories to tell them about this house. I actually built this house. I’ll be able to tell them details about it instead of wondering who had it first and how they took care of it.

What does this home mean to you?

I’m very blessed by this home. I wasn’t supposed to get a home this time. To actually get a chance? It means so much to me. I’m just ready to get in it. Especially at Christmas time. I’m excited to get in, put the Christmas tree up and everyone will sit around and we’ll hear the Christmas story. First getting my kids and letting them come in, like, my little girl. Let her choose which room she wants. A room without my son. I’m ready to put them in rooms by themselves.

David Snell
Fuller Center for Housing President
Colorado Springs, Colo. / Americus, Ga.

What’s your favorite part of a build?

There are folks here that have been coming to builds for years and years and years. And it’s almost like a class reunion of people that you really like. I like being spending a week surrounded by these good and decent people. The old-timers and the new comers who are so willing to give their time and energy to make this dream come alive.

What do you think of when you think of Millard’s legacy?

The elimination of poverty housing. It’s not just his dream. It’s a dream we all share. And honoring his legacy means continuing to pursue the dream.

What does home mean to you?

Home. Home is a sacred place. Home is where we nurture our family. Family is just the basic building block of life. Home is where you nurture that. And having a decent home that you’re comfortable in, and safe in, and protected by allows a family to nurture itself. That’s really what we’re doing. We’re creating a place where children can maximize their opportunities. A place where they can come home and study in comfort. Where the family can grow and develop.

In Woodland Park, Colo. there was a habitat affiliate. When you come into town they had Burmashave signs (a series of signs, and there would be a series of sayings). It said: “Teller County family has a home. Needs a house to put it in.” I just think that is so cool. So the house is a place where you build your home.

Darren Kelley: Project General Manager

by Lise Greene

A little boy and his seven siblings grew up on a sharecropper’s farm in Riverview, Alabama. Their father, a textile worker, was poor in dollars but rich in character. The family thrived in the four-room house despite the lack of amenities such as indoor plumbing. And the boy, Darren Kelley, learned from his parents that self-esteem does not preclude accepting help. When Santa arrived one Christmas in a truck, the Kelleys received food and gifts with gratitude. Darren still remembers his new coat and shoes.

Now it’s Darren’s turn to give – to the people of the Chattahoochee Valley. A resident of West Point, Georgia, Darren was already active on the City Council (Mayor Pro Tem and chair of two committees) and in his church. He was also a Habitat for Humanity volunteer and member of the board. When he retired in 2006 from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Lynda Spofford approached him about local housing needs.

“I saw the need right here,” said Darren. “People felt trapped and hopeless, and my heart was bleeding for them.”

Twenty-three new homes and 11 rehabs later, all the Chattahoochee homeowners know Darren, the project's General Manager, and call him when something goes wrong – and it does. “This work is a teaching and training opportunity for both homeowners and volunteers.”

Darren’s professional expertise is in “the foundation and below” – water, sewer, and sediment control. He learned above-ground construction from experienced volunteers like AJ Jewell, Keith Schuler, and Barry Stuck.

Darren graduated from the University of Alabama and met Donna on a blind date. They love spending time with their family – two sons, their wives, and three granddaughters.

“I’m a little bit of Millard Fuller, my father, my family, and everyone else in my life,” said Darren. “I’ve tried to take the best from them and blend it into myself.”

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Day 3 Q & A

Ashley Brooks, 15
Lanett, Ala.
Homeowner Gresham Brooks’ daughter

What's your favorite part of the build so far?

My favorite part of the build is the roof. I like how they’re doing the roof. It is taking the longest, but I like it. It’s big and that’s my favorite.

I haven’t been able to get up on the roof. It’s been raining. The roof is kind of slick. I’ve been helping sweep. I’ve been nailing things up for if a hurricane comes through—nailing equipment up in the house.

What does home mean to you?

It means a lot. I’m very happy about the home and I’m looking forward to moving in. It’s our first time having just a home, a real home. It’s ours and I’m very happy.

What are you looking forward to the most?

My own room. I want my own room. It’s my first time having my own room and my privacy, so I’m very happy about that too.

Michael Markle
Family Selection Chair Chattahoochee Fuller Center Project
Lanett, Ala.

What's your favorite memory of Millard Fuller?

My first thought was not of an event, but of Millard's smile. Millard could accomplish more with one smile than most people can in an entire workweek in the way it would empower others and motivate them to positive action when combined with his enthusiasm.

But truly it was more than that. Whenever I think of Millard I am reminded of the scripture in the gospel of John where he (John) is attributed to referring to himself as "the one Jesus loved" or "the one Jesus loved most." People sometimes chuckle a little when they read this verse thinking it somewhat arrogant in its assumption. However, I have always believed that had we been in Jesus' presence each of us would have considered ourselves "the one Jesus loved most." I think Jesus would have had that ability to make whoever he was with feel most loved with an awareness that he would do the same for the next person without feeling jealousy or animosity.

This is what I remember about Millard. When he spoke to you, you felt singled out as though you were the most important person in the room at that moment and you wanted to do all you could to help him accomplish his goal--to eliminate poverty housing. you knew he would treat the very next person the same way, and the next and the next. It did not make you feel slighted or jealous when he moved on, just part of a great energy with an amazing commission in the true spirit of Christ.

What is your favorite build memory?

I have two favorite build memories and both are quite simple and from my first build in Shreveport, La. The first is a picture I have of myself taken with Millard, Linda and Glen Barton in front of the renovation house to which I had been assigned. The second is when my house captain Jim Tomasack told me I could help re-shingle the roof. The roof was not high and had virtually no pitch, but nailing those shingles down with a pneumatic hammer was an exciting and empowering experience for me. I can imagine no other time in this middle-aged woman's life when I would have had the opportunity to help roof a house much less use a pneumatic hammer. It was thrilling for me and a service for someone else.

What does home mean to you?

I try to live my life in service to others. Home for me is an indulgence. It is where I can relax, feel secure, exercise my creativity and allow myself to feel some control over my environment. It is my nest.

Guest Blogger: Jery Huntley

It’s the Same, But It’s Different…

Jery Y. Huntley, Vinyl Siding Institute, President

Here in Lanett, Alabama at the Millard Fuller Legacy Build VSI’s Certified Trainers and I are getting the job done because we’ve got the BEST volunteers around us! And it’s the same as other blitz builds and it’s different too.

What’s the Same:
  • Millard Fuller’s vision
  • A fantastic, emotional ceremony to start us off
  • Confusion that leads to intense purpose and teamwork
  • The feeling of being loved and needed
  • The regulars: Bob, Mimi and son Bob, Merle and Susie Graber, LeRoy Troyer, Mark Butler, Willie, and lots more
  • Too many know-it-alls who don’t, but they are teachable
  • Struggling to eat healthy
  • Mud
  • Beautiful exhaustion at the end of the day
What’s Different:
  • No Millard (and I emotionally restrain myself here)
  • New faces, from 26 states
  • More families in need than ever before

I feel privileged to be here for Millard and Linda and fulfilling their vision. Linda, Faith, and everyone are doing a great job --- as are the rest of the Fuller Center staff and everyone on the site. Once more, I have memories to take home and the excitement is already building for the next blitz.

International Covenant Partners and the MFLB

Almost half of the 100-home Millard Fuller Legacy Build event is happening with the Fuller Center's international partners. While six homes are erected in one week here in Lanett, 50 homes are being built or dedicated this week around the world. In addition, five Greater Blessing projects will be completed or dedicated.

The countries involved are:
Armenia - 10 homes
Democratic Republic of Congo - 6 homes
El Salvador - 10 homes
India - Trivandrum - 1 home
Nepal - 5 homes
Nigeria - 4 homes
Peru - 10 homes
Republic of Congo - 4 homes
Sri Lanka - 5 homes

Check out the pictures sent this week from India Trivandrum Fuller Center!