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Volunteers: Building homes is a mission

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Written by
Vickie Welborn 

Source: The Shreveport-Times.com

 

 

 

 

MINDEN — Charlie Park can vividly recall a day in 2006 when he and Millard Fuller sat near a grove of pecan trees on Pine Street and discussed their dream of turning the property purchased in 2002 into a neighborhood of new homes for families who have struggled.

Fuller, the Habitat for Humanity International founder who created The Fuller Center for Housing in 2005, died in February 2009. But his worldwide commitment to help people in need will live on locally through Legacy Acres Subdivision — that former field of pecan trees now transformed into a tree-lined lot for 20 new homes.

The cul-de-sac has been a beehive of activity in recent weeks as a small group of volunteers prepared for the onslaught of the army of 300 more volunteers who will descend on Minden this weekend.

At night, they’ll stay on site, in hotels and at a nearby Methodist encampment. But during the day Monday through Oct. 21, they will concentrate on building eight new houses on Millard Fuller Drive and rehabilitate seven more on an adjoining street.

This is the largest undertaking ever by the Fuller Center for Housing in Webster Parish. Volunteers participated in a “blitz build” in 2005 by constructing a house in two weeks, and in 2008, they put up two houses side by side in less than two months.

“But we’ve never done anything this big,” said Park, Fuller Center of Webster executive director. But almost with military precision, the huge undertaking is planned down to the number of brackets needed for closet doors. Keeping everything on track is the responsibility of construction supervisor Bill Moriarty, who along with wife, France, has been leading such efforts since 1999. The couple’s decision to make volunteer service a lifestyle and mission is a common theme among those who will leave their homes in Ohio, Michigan, Colorado, Florida, Texas and other parts of the U.S. to aid the Minden families whose lack of adequate housing earned them a spot in the Legacy Build.

“We have fun doing it. It’s a purpose to travel; but more than that, we think it’s our mission. God told us to do this,” said South Carolina resident Diane Gravlee, who along with husband, George, has participated in 118 builds in 42 states.

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And you can hardly find anyone more grateful than Shannie Gobert. She and husband, Ernest, moved from Ville Platte to Minden less than two years ago because of her job transfer to Minden Medical Center. They rented an apartment from the hospital, then Ernest lost his para-professional job with the Webster school system consolidation. Home now is with a cousin and four other family members.

The Goberts fell in love with Minden and the generosity of the hospital staff and new friends. So when their application for a new home was accepted, Shannie felt it was an answer to prayer.

“First, the job transfer. Second, the house. No. 3, maybe a baby,” the 31-year-old said with a laugh. “We felt like we belonged here when we moved. We felt right at home. “» We’re so grateful to have been selected. No one owes us this. It’s truly a blessing from God. It’s all part of his great plan for us.”

The Goberts got to pick their floor plan from four offered.

Shannie will take off work next week and join Ernest and the slew of volunteers in building their home. All the prefabricated dwellings will be move-in ready the following week.

All homeowners already have put in their required 500 hours of sweat equity, Park said, but he expects most to be like the Goberts and be on site next week.

Construction of the new houses costs about $360,000 to $400,000. Tango Transport, The Fuller Center and an anonymous donor are sponsoring three homes. Donations are still being accepted toward the rest “to make this whole effort a success,” Park said.

The homes average about 1,200 square feet and cost $55,000. Mortgages are based on how much is spent on each structure.

Fuller Center of Webster is carrying mortgages on 32 of 38 houses built over the past 20 years in the parish. Not all of the payments are made on time, but that’s not unexpected. “Millard Fuller once said if everyone pays on time and pays the entire note, then we’re serving the wrong population,” Park said.

He added: “The only way we’ve got here is by the grace of God. And we’ve certainly felt his grace over the past few months.”

There will be room in the subdivision for 12 more homes to be built at a later date. As far as the rehabilitations on the neighboring street, the homes were selected because of needs ranging from leveling floors, adding vinyl siding or installing insulation.

“There’s always a need, and we’ll be here for God’s people in need,” Park said.

 

 

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Written by demon53

October 17, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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