Prior to May of 2009 I had never heard of The Fuller Center for Housing. That may sound strange to some, but it’s true. I also did not know that Millard Fuller and his wife, Linda were the founders of The Fuller Center, and they also started Habitat for Humanity in 1976. I always thought Jimmy Carter did, and so do many other folks that I talk to. I did know about Habitat and many, many moons ago as part of my Architectural Internship, I signed up to “do Habitat” as part of my architectural internship- the education of an Architect starts with a 5-year degree, 3 years of internship, community service hours, and nine (9) tedious State Exams ranging from Structural Design, Site Design, Construction Documents, etc. I remember that I did not have fun that first Saturday. I remember is that it was cold and rainy, and I just wanted to get my volunteer hours over and done with! Little did I know that I was being prepared for something much, much bigger.
Around the same time in 2009, I was trying to build my design firm, Building Design Partnership, LLC. I was also just getting familiar with Face Book. This is how I got connected with the Young Professions of Henry County and through Face Book is how I met Mark Galey, President of the Atlanta Fuller Center for Housing, Inc. Mark and I exchanged some emails and we finally met face-to-face at the Atlanta Motor Speedway at an RV/Home Remodeling Show one Saturday. We swapped business cards and chatted a bit about design projects that we both completed. He mentioned that he was working on a volunteer project in Henry County and asked if I would like to be a part of it. I must have said “yes” and I was about to get a crash course in “Fullerism”.
Mark and I met on Saturday; he called me on Sunday evening to let me know that we were having a kick-off meeting on Tuesday at Wesley Way UMC. I showed up and met a few Board Members of the Atlanta Fuller Center (Dot Norman & Cheryl Leverett-Lide),Tony Rogers of Wesley Way and Mr. Andy Calhoun. Needless to say, I had never met any of these folks before. New partnerships began that day, between Fuller Center, Wesley Way UMC , Wesley Chapel UMC, local businesses and volunteers. Approximately 150 volunteers through the River of Life Group were heading our way. We had to find the projects, review applications from the families , approve them and we had only 6 weeks to do so! Mr. Calhoun knew of a few residents who needed home repairs and he went to work immediately. He gave us the names and addresses and the Fuller Center started knocking on doors during the evenings.
It took a lot of work by the Family Selection Committee and a lot of phone calls. But, about a week before our volunteers were expected in McDonough, we had a total of 16 projects to work on. Mrs. Miller’s house was on the list and it was the one project that would test my Faith. Upon completion of this "extreme makeover", which lasted from Mid-May to September 5th, I realized that there was more to "giving back" and that I could use my God-given talents to make a difference in other people's lives, especially after experiencing the transformation that happen on this project. Every time I drive by 185 Old Griffin Road it serves as a constant reminder of what can be accomplished when a community can pull together and be a part of something greater than me and you. I heard those very words being said at The Grove just yesterday, as I sat and listened to my friend Chris Lockhart say "There is something greater than me".
During the events of Project McDonough I was invited to be on the Board of Directors for the Atlanta Fuller Center. Being on the board allowed me to work very closely with all the committees and it has given me the education I needed for setting up a Henry County Fuller Center covenant partnership. In August 2010, we launched the covenant partnership with 11 board members who have been a part of this movement from the very beginning, and who give their hearts and passion to the cause. I could not ask for a better group of people who are always finding ways to give back to their community. I am very proud and extremely honored to be working alongside our volunteers who believe in what we are doing, and donors who support the work of the The Fuller Center.
I invite you to be a part of our movement; a movement that WANTS change.