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!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Day Two Q & A

Jessica Burkholder
Richfield, Pa.
Youngest volunteer, age 10
Why did you come to the build?
I wanted to come here because it doesn’t seem right that people don’t have homes. It’s just wrong. People need to have a place to live. And a place to sleep. I’m glad that I can be a part of that. It’s really cool.

What is your favorite part of a build?
I like interacting with the people best. And making more friends. None of my friends at church came but now everyone here’s like family. It happened pretty quickly. So that was cool.

What does home mean to you?
Home is a place where you make memories. A good place to live. Just a special place. You’d much rather be home than anywhere else. You make memories with your family, you laugh, you cry and stuff. But that’s part of life. And home’s where it all happens.

Naomi and Mary Sue Lehman
Shipshewana, Ind.

Why did you decide to come to the build?
Naomi: I decided to come with my husband. He loves to do carpentry work and he just wanted me to go along and I like helping out. I like it. It’s a good feeling to help people.

Mary Sue: And meet new people.

Naomi: I’m not as much of a new people meet-er.

Mary Sue: Well I’m not either. But my husband is.

Naomi: Our husbands are brothers and a new person isn’t a new person long with them. But I’d rather work in a corner somewhere by myself. I don’t mind meeting new people but it’s just…I’m not like our husbands.

What’s your role this week?
Naomi: We’re helping in the kitchen. I would like to get out there on the job one day, painting. At least one or two days of that. I hope I get to do that.

What do you like most about being here?
Mary Sue: It’s good to see how people get together and everybody pitches in and helps.

Naomi: I really appreciate the hospitality and the friendliness of the south.

Mary Sue: Yeah, the people are really, really friendly.

Naomi: And just working together to make a big project light. Many hands make light work. I think that’s nice. It’s something I enjoy in our own community. Everybody works together and gets a big job made simple. So I guess that’s what I like about being here.

What does home mean to you?
Naomi: Home means family and comfort and relaxing.

Mary Sue: Friends.

Naomi: Home is really special. I’ve lived there all my life. My parents grew up in Indiana, and my grandparents. Our community, togetherness, working together, church-- that’s a big part of home. If anybody needs help, why, our community is always right there to help.

Mary Sue: Helping each other, yeah, that’s a big one.

Naomi: I have four kids, so that’s home. The youngest is 12.

Mary Sue: We have three girls and 18 grandchildren. So they’re all special, we really enjoy them. Home’s just a good place to be.

Naomi: That’s right. As much as I enjoy this I would not choose for this every month. Just because of the being away from home. Too much of that is—you miss out on family togetherness if you’re away too much. So once in awhile this is okay. This is only the second day so I haven’t missed my family that much yet, but I’m sure by the end of the week I will be ready to go home.

Mary Sue: I like traveling but, going back… [smiles].

El Salvador building houses this week as part of MFLB

While the 300 or so volunteers work to build six homes this week in Lanett, dozens more are going up around the world. Fuller Center El Salvador is working on 10 houses in the village where the Millard and Linda Fuller Blitz Build took place last year. The village has since been renamed Villa Millard and Linda Fuller by the governing committee of the village.

A team of volunteers works hard on one of 10 homes that will be worked on this week in El Salvador and part of the Millard Fuller Legacy Build.

Volunteers can pour the cement walls for a home in only one day.

Women working with the Many Miracles sewing project that partners with Fuller Center El Salvador to build a sustainable community--not just homes.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Day One Q & A

Jacob Battle

Americus, Ga.

Board Member

What’s your favorite part of a build?

Meeting the people, the volunteers, the homeowners--and being able to work alongside of them. And meeting old friends.

What do you think of when you think of Millard Fuller’s Legacy?

I think of all of the things that Millard accomplished throughout his life. I think we should do everything within our power to make sure that his legacy goes on and on. I think of all the millions of people that are being helped day by day by his vision and his obedience to God. I don’t think we could do too much to keep his dream alive.

What does home mean to you?

A place that is neutral from the everyday rat race. A place where children are able to be given opportunities to develop, to become what God would have them to be. Home is a place where there’s love and security.

Nashua Chantal

Koinonia Farms, Ga.

Volunteer and crafter of the Greater Blessing Box

What’s your favorite part of a build?

It’s about three days into the build where I feel that I’m comfortable, I know where everything is. I’ve met the homeowner and get to talk to them more. And then I’m starting to joke around with folks. And feeling comfortable about what I’m doing.

Because at first, you’re just feeling everybody out. Asking people a lot of questions and when you get all that out of the way you start to become more like family after awhile. The next couple of days in the week that you’re there you just bond. It’s something you can never forget.

What do you think of when you think of Millard Fuller’s Legacy?

I didn’t know much about Millard when I met him, but it didn’t take very long to know Millard because his spirit is openness. He absorbs everything right away and remembers you the first day.

I can just see that this is starting to take off now, the legacy. It’s starting to spread. It’s even spreading into Habitat. Millard started both [Habitat and the Fuller Center]. We’re part of both organizations. And Koinonia, that’s where it all started from. And his what he started is so big.

He always talked about the mustard seed. Everything rests within the branches giving the tree strength. In Millard’s legacy, I think the roots come from Habitat, the trunk from the Fuller Center, the branches are the affiliates, and the leaves of the tree of course are the volunteers that come from everywhere. Every year, just like autumn, they go back home, the leaves fall and then become refreshed as spring comes, and summer comes, and more volunteers come. The tree is just getting flourished with new enthusiasm. That’s what a build creates every year.

With a lot of prayer and dedication, Millard created something so huge that everyone’s taking part, we’re all learning from the legacy. Wherever we go we’re teaching folks how to do it on their own and they’re getting it. And a community starts to develop their own type of build.

What does home mean to you?

It’s a place of comfort and security. If you have children, it’s for their well-being to have something--their own room, being warm in the wintertime and cool in the summertime. If they can bring their friends home to something nice, they can feel proud. I think that helps their self-esteem to continue on their journey.

Otherwise if they didn’t have any of that, that’s where they’d fall into the cracks. Building that home we become part of their family--maybe just in our memories, but we gave them something, and they gave us something to appreciate when we go back to our home.

Monday: The day of wall-raising

Last night was the big Legacy Build Kickoff Celebration. You can read about that here. And find pictures here.

Volunteers showed up by the hundreds, one group had matching bright green T-shirts made. Others were dressed in their Sunday best.

Highlights from the event included the first public showing of the trailer to the Millard Fuller Movie, a seven-minute film about Millard's legacy, and the announcement of legislation that intends to rename a portion of Highway 29 "The Millard Fuller Memorial Highway."

The MFLB blog will be featuring one or two people each day to give readers a feel for the event. Look for a Q&A from a special volunteer later today. For now, enjoy some pictures from yesterday.

These volunteers from Neimond's Independent Church in Pennsylvania won't get lost in a crowd.

Debbie Tollett received a Habitat Home many years ago. Now she volunteers for the Fuller Center. Here she's standing with Wayne Hall, who served as the House Captain for her house.

Fuller Center Director of Special Programs Ryan Iafigliola gives it right back during the passing of the hard hats. Local girl and boy scouts helped with the offering which collected $4,000.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

And it begins!

The Millard Fuller Legacy Build Kickoff Celebration is mere hours away! Hundreds of attendees are climbing into their vehicles right now to head to Valley, Ala. (And we hope they all carefully checked that their ETA is 3:30 Eastern Daylight Time. Click here for directions.)

As you eagerly anticipate this big event, take a minute to check out these photos of the building and other activities that have already begun in preparation for the arrival of the 256 volunteers today and tomorrow.

More updates to come after the Celebration today. And follow for live updates during the event.

Volunteers bring supplies to construction site.

Volunteers prepare food for those who've already been building.

Foundation has been poured on all of the homes.

Friday, August 28, 2009

It's almost here!

Volunteers, board members and coordinators are arriving in Lanett, Ala. already today and tomorrow to take care of early preparations for the Millard Fuller Legacy Build. President David Snell is heading over at noon.

The real rush, of course, will hit on Sunday where about 1,000 are expected to attend the Legacy Build Kickoff Celebration. The Valley Community Center (Sportsplex) employees are working hard to set up the gymnasium.

Former President Jimmy Carter's Secret Service visited Wednesday to familiarize themselves with the premises. President Carter spoke with a paper in La Grange and said he'd do anything to honor the legacy of Millard Fuller. He'll arrive Sunday after attending tomorrow's memorial service for Ted Kennedy.

Other media is catching wind of the event also--The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer and The Americus Times-Recorder both made announcements. Look for more coverage of the worldwide, 100-house dedication week begins!

It's a rainy day in Americus and about 70 degrees in Lanett. Forecasters are predicting a partly cloudy week in the mid-80s. It looks like it could be a beautiful week for the 246 registered volunteers to build.

In the photo above you can see the volunteer tent is already up and ready. All we need now is the volunteers. Travel safe and oyee!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Jimmy Carter speaking at kickoff celebration

The weeklong Millard Fuller Legacy Build is almost here and it looks like it will begin with a bang--and keep getting better from there!

The Fuller Center just announced that former president Jimmy Carter will be speaking at the Legacy Build Kickoff Celebration, Aug. 30 at 3:30 p.m. (Eastern Daylight Time). Carter was a great supporter and friend of Millard Fuller, believing in his vision beginning in the early days of Habitat for Humanity.

The celebration will also feature Morris Dees, founder of Southern Poverty Law Center, and Millard's old business partner from his pre-Habitat and Fuller Center days. Dees will tell stories and share memories of his days with Millard.

Check back often as the build gets closer and all week long during the build Aug. 30-Sept. 5. We'll keep you updated with stories and announcements as the week of building houses for six families in Lanett unfolds.