Clark County ministry helps dream of owning a home come true

So what does the Clark County Fuller Center for Housing do?

That’s the question I get asked the most as the Fuller Center’s new executive director. The best answer I can give is that everything we do is centered around the concept of “home.”

The safety of “home” is what helps us make it through our day, through our week, through a tough trial. In fact, the longing for home is what helps many make it through this life.

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The Fuller Center is a nonprofit Christian ministry that seeks to use sacrificial love and giving to eliminate substandard housing and poverty — one house and one family at a time.

We do this in one of two ways.

The first way is new home construction. The Fuller Center builds simple, decent, energy-efficient new homes in low-income neighborhoods that need more homeowners and less renters. This allows us to keep the price low. We’ve built 57 houses in 27 years (the first 25 years as a Habitat For Humanity chapter), using mostly volunteer labor and donated or discounted materials.

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The second way is through our “Save A House, Make A Home” program. This is where we apply the above construction plan to remodeling an existing home.

We then choose a hard-working, deserving low-income family and make their dream of homeownership come true. We currently serve 48 families in our program.

Many of our partner families had given up on that dream. Their income levels were too low for banks to understandably take a risk on them. But we believe God uses and honors risk-takers.

In fact, the Fuller Center is currently seeking one of these low-income, hard-working families to put in a home in the Lagonda Avenue area of Springfield. If you know of someone who has worked hard all their life and needs a big break, but has never gotten it, have them call (937) 325-2514 for more information.

There are a variety of loan options we use, but normally we qualify them for zero-interest loans on our zero-profit homes.

RELATED: Housing center gets new leader, looks to retool in 2017

To enhance and teach the ownership/partnership part of our program, we ask each adult member of the household to do 250 hours of what we call “sweat equity,” up to 500 hours per household, before they can move into their home.

We also work with our partner families to teach them how to be homeowners — before, during and after the mortgage process.

The goal is to show God’s love to a world that needs to see it and His economic principles in action.

We are a lot of things to a lot of people. But what we are can be summed up in four labels. We are:

1. Faith-driven: We do all we can, then get out of the way and let God do the rest.

We are also unapologetically ecumenical. We welcome all faiths to our cause, and also those with no stated faith.

2. Locally-based: We believe the best people to help local people are local people who know the community and its people the best.

3. An “enlightened charity”: When our homes are finished, they are already “paid for” as far as we’re concerned. So when our partner families make their affordable monthly payments, the money goes into building or rebuilding homes for other low-income families. So in a way, our beneficiaries become donors.

4. Volunteer-driven: Yes, we need to raise funding. Every non-profit has to in order to survive, and thrive. But our volunteers are truly our greatest asset.

From construction volunteers to store workers at our ReUse Store, 259 S. Wittenberg Ave. in Springfield — where we sell recycled building materials and home décor at drastically discounted prices to help support our ministry — volunteers are absolutely integral to us. And cherished. If you’d like to learn more about volunteering, call me at (937) 325-2514, ext. 303.

Our financial support comes from a variety of sources, based on the generosity of individuals, businesses, foundations and churches.

Our goal is that they see God’s love in all that we do.

Kermit Rowe is the executive director at the Clark County Fuller Center for Housing.

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