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David Snell: April brings opportunity to volunteer

When Linda and Millard Fuller set down roots in Americus 45 years ago it wasn’t just a move — it was a commitment.
And although their housing ministry took them around the world, they always looked forward to coming home. That commitment took shape in the ‘90s when the Sumter County Initiative strove to eliminate poverty housing in Sumter County. And while a good many houses got built, one of the great blessings from that series of events was the way the entire community came together for a common good. Even those who’d been a little leery about Millard and his work got caught up in the excitement and helped make Sumter County a better place to live.
In 2005, when life changed dramatically for the Fullers, we searched for ways that Millard’s unique talents and boundless energy could be kept at work. He was a young 70 at the time and said that he’d read the Bible and couldn’t find the word “retirement” anywhere in it. He wanted to keep working toward his dream of eliminating poverty housing. Recovery work from the horrific 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami was underway and we thought that with his many international contacts Millard would be a natural to lead the effort. His only question was, “Can I do it from Americus?” He didn’t want to leave home.
Born out of these discussions was The Fuller Center for Housing, a Christian ministry that adheres closely to the foundational principles that Millard and Clarence Jordan were inspired with so many years ago — a ministry that builds houses with, not for, the poor; one that charges no interest and makes no profit; a worldwide confederation of grass-roots partner organizations with little bureaucratic overlay. Millard died suddenly in 2009, but The Fuller Center gave him the opportunity of spending his last years doing what he loved to do the way he was inspired to do it.
Since that time, The Fuller Center has continued to grow and today has covenant partner organizations in 70 U.S. cities and 20 other countries. Millard may be gone, but his dream lives on. One of those covenant partners is right here in Millard’s adopted home town. The Americus/Sumter Fuller Center for Housing continues the great tradition of the Sumter County Initiative. While that effort sought to eliminate poverty housing from the county the sad truth is that the problem doesn’t completely go away and there are families today living in substandard housing right here in Americus.
In April the Americus/Sumter Fuller Center will host volunteers from across the country and some from abroad to make decent housing a reality with more families in need. During the week of April 15-20 two new houses will be built and a number of others rehabilitated. Volunteers from places like Nevada, Minnesota and Rhode Island along with some from El Salvador, Nicaragua and Peru will join with local volunteers in the Millard Fuller Legacy Build. This will be like a family reunion for many of the volunteers who travel from far and wide to be a part of this annual event. We always get a good response when we host things like this here. People enjoy coming to the place where Millard’s great housing ministries were born.
Anyone interested in volunteering for a day or the whole week or who would like to help provide lunches or snacks for the workers will be more than welcome! Learn more at The Fuller Center’s website, FullerCenter.org, or contact Jody Wade at 229-234-4820.