Changing Lives One Home at a Time

Changing Lives One Home at a Time

We often say, “We’re building a better world, one house at a time.” But The Fuller Center of Housing is about more than building houses. It’s really about people — people in need, people who care and people whose lives are being transformed. Meet two of these people now.

A Christmas wish come true in West Point, GA

K’Hairi used to climb upon Santa Claus’ lap every Christmas and ask for only one thing — not for toys or even for his sickle-cell anemia to be cured — but for his mother, Army veteran, Carla, to have a good home. At the age of 7, in June 2017, he got his wish. It wasn’t Santa but instead dozens of volunteers who came together in West Point, Georgia, to build a safe, energy-efficient and affordable home allowing Carla to focus on caring for K’Hairi instead of living paycheck to paycheck. Before celebrating their first Christmas in the home, we asked K’Hairi what he’d tell Santa he wanted. He replied: “I wish every kid in the world had a good home, too.”

Volunteer Robin, Army veteran Carla Ross, Fuller Center Executive Director Kim Roberts with K’Hairi outside the Ross’ new home.

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 their 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.”

Evelyn, a single mother of two in El Salvador

No matter where you stand on the issue of illegal immigration, you can sympathize with the plight of Evelyn, a single mother of two children who was considering leaving her beloved home country for the United States.

Four years ago in El Salvador, single mother Evelyn Martinez-Palacio found herself in a predicament. She no longer had anywhere to live, and nowhere she found to rent was affordable for her family.

Faced with no other option, Evelyn moved herself and her children into a notoriously dangerous area on the outskirts of their city where they constructed their own home entirely out of plastic and bamboo. With some luck, they came across some steel sheeting and made a roof.

During this time, Victoria, Evelyn’s mother, would care for the children while Evelyn worked at a factory, sewing clothes for export to the United States. Victoria was responsible for all the daily activities, including water retrieval.

Evelyn was weighing whether the uncertain possibilities of a better life in the U.S. would be worth risking a treacherous journey from her homeland. Two years ago, feeling increasingly frustrated with her options, Evelyn came up with a plan to help her family. That plan included illegally immigrating into the United States, leaving her three children behind in the care of her mother.

Thanks to the Fuller Center partnerships in El Salvador, that drastic move was not necessary.

As Fuller Center partners told Victoria that her daughter would be receiving “a good, safe house, where water will work and the kids can play,” Victoria was rendered speechless, and the tears flowed freely.

“She has suffered a lot,” Victoria said of her daughter. “In the beginning, we didn’t even have this house. We had nothing. She has done everything and it has cost her everything.”

It seems that her hard work has paid off as Evelyn and her family moved into their new home this month.

Now embracing her newfound sense of stability, Evelyn has had the time to reflect on the last four years of her life. “The idea of going to the United States, it’s gone now. We’re doing well here and we have a home together. I never wanted to leave my kids. To people who are thinking of going to the United States, I would tell them not to. Every community has opportunities.”

After a successful record of 29 years as founder and President of Habitat for Humanity International, Millard Fuller, with his wife, Linda, created The Fuller Center for Housing to continue their grass-roots and Christ-centered mission of eliminating poverty housing around the world.

The Fuller Center for Housing is an ecumenical Christian organization that bases its work on what Millard Fuller called, “The Economics of Jesus” and “The Theology of the Hammer.” They work, in partnership with people around the world of all faiths and backgrounds, to build God’s Kingdom on earth by improving and transforming lives. They believe everyone deserves a simple, decent, and affordable place to live and they strive to make that possible through the formation of community partnerships in the U.S. and all over the world.

They welcome all volunteers who share their basic belief in giving dignity to all by helping them own a home. They believe Jesus would not want us to place religious requirements on beneficiaries, so they don’t. The Fuller Center for Housing does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, age, gender or sexual orientation.

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