Minden Press-Herald

Wednesday
Oct 01st

Claiborne Parish needs more ‘Blessings’

The Fuller Center for Housing Greater Blessings Project in Claiborne Parish is in need of volunteers and expertise to help give those who can't afford a decent place to call home.

While the organization does not have the funds to build new homes, they are receiving some funds to repair some areas of homes badly in need.

The Rev. Russell Grigsby, president of the board, said they have many projects that need to be done, but they just don't have the volunteers needed to complete them and the ones they do have are physically limited in some areas. Some of those projects include roofing, repairing structural damage, kitchen cabinets and electrical work.

"We have a number of projects, and we've put a couple of articles in the paper, but no one has come forward," Grigsby said. "We want this to be a community project, because many of our board members are not able to climb roofs, they're not able to carry heavy materials or even the expertise that we need to do some of these projects with."

He told the story of a woman whose roof desperately needs to be replaced. He said she had 10 or 12 buckets throughout her home to catch water when it rains, "and because we didn't have a roofer or someone with the expertise, we tried to tar the roof, but that didn't work to well. So, we put a tarp over it until we can get back to her.

"If it does rain again, maybe it won't rain into her house," he continued, "but that's only a temporary fix."

Currently, they have six or seven qualified applicants, but they don't have the funds or the manpower to complete them. Fuller Center for Housing of Claiborne Parish has also had three complete homes donated to them, but they don't have the funds to move them. They have two homes in Homer and one in Haynesville that need to be moved. And once that's done, Grigsby said, the homes will need plumbing and electrical work done to hook them up.

It costs about $10,000 each to move each home, Grigsby said.

The organization is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, which means any monetary donations are tax deductible.

The Greater Blessings Project began a few short years ago, and at first, had some trouble getting started. They were only raising enough money to do small repairs, but as word got around, donations began picking up. However, this year, donations have been down, which means they aren't able to do as many repairs as are needed.

For many years, Webster's Fuller Center for Housing was accepting donations from citizens in Claiborne Parish. Grigsby and others in the community saw a great need right here at home. And in Claiborne Parish, more so, needs a program like this, because Claiborne is a rural parish and tends to have a higher low-income population.

"Over the years, we've had a handful of volunteers come from Claiborne Parish and we've had some donations from Claiborne Parish," Charlie Park, executive director of the Fuller Center for Housing of Webster Parish. "They have given to this ministry before and we encourage them to give to their local organization."

Not only are they in need of volunteers and monetary funds, but the board is seeking new ideas on how to raise money to make these repairs. They recently hosted a bake sale, which brought in a decent amount, Grigsby said, but the need is so much greater than what one fundraiser could bring in.

The Fuller Center for Housing Ministry actually began as Habitat for Humanity in 1976, founded by Millard and Linda Fuller. The idea was to begin a Christian ministry to give people safe, decent housing.

According to their website, www.habitat.org, the "concept that grew into Habitat for Humanity International was born at Koinonia Farm, a small, interracial community outside of Americus, Georgia. Koinonia Farm was founded in 1942 by farmer and biblical scholar Clarence Jordon."

The website continues, "The Fullers first visited Koinonia in 1965. They had recently left a successful business and an affluent lifestyle in Montgomery, Alabama to begin a new life of Christian service."

At this farm, the Fullers and Jordan developed the concept of "partnership housing," centered on those in need of decent shelter. They worked side by side with volunteers to construct simple, decent houses.

Building expenses are paid for through a revolving fund called "The Fund for Humanity." The fund's money comes from the new homeowners' house payments, which are no-interest loans provided by supporters and volunteers. Funds also come from fundraising events as well as generous donations from the communities.

This program is not a handout, but rather a hand up.

"What the poor need is not charity, but capital, not case workers but co-workers," reads to the mission statement. "And what the rich need is a wise, honorable and just way of divesting themselves of their overabundance."

The volunteers who build the homes are those in need of repairs on their own homes or are receiving a new home. This idea is called "sweat equity" in which volunteers or potential Habitat homeowners and their families work on other homes in need. They also work on their own homes when construction begins.

Habitat for Humanity International is worldwide, with ministries in many countries as well as right here in the United States. The name changed in 2005 to The Fuller Center for Housing, which is currently building and renovating homes in 14 countries and 64 communities in the United States, according to www.fullercenter.org.

For more information, to volunteer time or expertise, or to make a monetary donation, please call Grigsby at 265-9266 or Jeffery Rhone at 205-8399. The Fuller Center office is located at Believers Worship Center in Homer, but meetings are held at Homer City Hall.

 

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