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Legacy Build rehabs several McDonough homes

Deemed a success by organizers


By Melissa Robinson
Contributing Editor 

  Glenn Maxwell steered the wheelbarrow filled with wood scraps down George Lemon Drive. His adult son following in the footsteps of his old man-literally. Maxwell, from Bellaire, Ohio, was part of this year’s Fuller Center Legacy Build held last week in McDonough.

Volunteers with the Millard Fuller Legacy Build, which took place in McDonough last week, end the week with a dedication of House #3 amid cheers and smiles.      Photo by Melissa Robinson

  Maxwell, along with son Steve, made the nine-hour trip from their hometown, to help rehabilitate and repair four houses in McDonough.  A union carpenter for 30 years, Maxwell has been volunteering since 1992, first with Habitat for Humanity and then with the Fuller organization. His work for housing has taken him all over the United States and oversees to South Korea, Mexico, South Africa and Budapest.

  “This has been a great build, but those windows were a challenge,” he said, referring to the brand new windows he helped install in one of the homes. “They have to be just right.”

  The Fuller Center Legacy Build held in Henry County, has been in the works since last November after the Henry County Fuller Center made application to host the event. The Millard Fuller Legacy Build, named in memory of Millard Fuller, founder of both Habitat for Humanity and the Fuller Center for Housing, is an annual internationally recognized time of building to shine a light on the need for simple, decent and affordable housing solutions.

  More than 80 volunteers from 19 states joined approximately 40 local volunteers to rehab and renovate four homes in McDonough, however the work went so well, that volunteers were able to take on a fifth smaller project on a house in the neighborhood. Shane Persaud, president of the Henry County Fuller Center, said that his office received approximately 15 applications and a committee had the difficult task of paring down the list to the four houses for the build.

  “We had to really adhere to the criteria, but it has been a great week, and really went according to plan. It was an exciting week and to see the teamwork and camaraderie has been incredible,” said Persaud.

  Persaud credits the volunteers along with Ed and Tracy Rutherford, active participants from Atlanta who helped steer the build, with the success of the week.

  “The Rutherfords were really incredible. She’s the designer, he’s the builder and they have been so involved. Also, Brenda Barton, who has really helped to organize the volunteers,” said Persaud.

  Barton is the Communications Liaison for the Atlanta Fuller Center

  Leland Burkholder, from Pennsylvania brought his three teenage daughters, Lynell, Lena and Jessica, to participate in the weeklong event. It was Burkholder’s third Legacy Build and he said he brought his children because of the importance of  teaching them to give back.

  “We have so much and doing this (build) helps teach my kids values and to really appreciate what they have,” said Burkholder.

  Merle Graber, along with his wife Susie, were in town from Peoria, Arizona to participate in the Legacy Build. Graber said he began with Habitat for Humanity, participating in his first project in Atlanta in 1988.

  “This year, I feel like I’ve come full circle, back in Atlanta 24 years later,” he said with a smile.     “For us, it’s just about giving back a little for all that God has given us. He’s blessed us in so many ways.”

  Graber said that in his travels and volunteer work, he has come to realize the great need, not only in other countries, but in the United States as well.

  “The need is all over. Here as much as anywhere in the world,” said Graber.

  Volunteers from out of town pay their own way and expenses to participate. Some are retired, while others take time off from work to give back to others. Although many volunteers stay at local hotels, several bunked down at the McDonough Presbyterian Church in McDonough. The church opened its doors to volunteers at no cost, and throughout the years, has often been a place for community and volunteer activities.

  Persaud said that many people, organizations and businesses in the county have stepped up to make the Legacy Build a success. He said students at Henry Middle School, which is adjacent to the building site, collected and donated over $1,000 worth of bottled water to volunteers.

  “It’s just overwhelming the support we’ve received,” he said.

  Volunteers performed major rehabilitation on the selected homes, adding new roofs on several, replacing windows, painting, renovating kitchens and enclosing a back porch on one and building a handicapped accessible ramp. On one particular home, the house was stabilized through hoisting the structure to correct a caving floor.

  “It’s been such a great week for our community and to have these volunteers here with their commitment and dedication to others is just inspiring,” said McDonough Mayor Billy Copeland. “I said it before and it’s so true, that caring for others is a measure of greatness and these volunteers are the epitome of that.”

  Grady Allen, one of the homeowners, who walks with a cane because of bad knees, said he was grateful for the job volunteers did to his house. Most of the homeowners who were able to, participated in the renovations.

  The Legacy Build ended on Friday with a special dedication of each home where homeowners had an opportunity to thank the volunteers and tell what the experience has meant to them. There was also a final service at Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church, located on Racetrack Rd. in McDonough, which was the site of the kickoff meeting held this past January.

  In 2009, the McDonough Project was started by Mark Galley and Shane Persaud, as an organization under the Atlanta Fuller Center. Last year, Henry County became its own covenant partner of the Fuller Center, becoming the Henry County Fuller Center for Housing, Inc.

  Persaud said he hopes to keep the momentum going from the Legacy Build and would like to take on projects throughout the year, fulfilling the mission of the Henry County Fuller Center.

  Copeland echoed those sentiments and would like to see the work continue on behalf of McDonough residents in need of assistance on their homes.

  For more information on the Henry County Fuller Center, visit or find them on Facebook.



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