Volunteers sweat through their T-shirts, covered in sawdust and dirt as they dedicated their week to finishing 11 houses for victims of the March 3 Lee County tornadoes.
Construction started Monday and finished Thursday for the 2019 Millard Fuller Legacy Build on the homes, in time for the owners to see them Friday during a series of new-home dedications.
Jim and Tammy Caldwell walked up to the front of their freshly painted little yellow home with mums decorating the front porch to the applause of volunteers.
“Thank ya’ll,” Tammy said to the crowd, trying not to cry. “Thank you. Thank you for being God's arms and legs. He’s good.”
Andy Bailey dedicated the home at 307 Lee Road 38 to the couple and their dog, Ginger. Bailey is with Church of the Highlands, which sponsored the home.
He prayed over the home with the couple and gave them a pink Bible.
“Father we come to you so thankful for all that you have done for us,” Bailey said. “Your extravagant love, your unending provision and your constant walk with us. We thank you father for sending so many to this property with just the right talent and just the right heart to accomplish such an amazing feat.”
David Snell, president for The Fuller Center for Housing, shared another gift: a brand new lawn mower donated by Stihl for the couple.
Tears streamed down Tammy’s face as they entered their new home for the first time. The houses are furnished down to the kitchen appliances.
In addition to Church of the Highlands sponsorship, volunteers and The Fuller Center for Housing, Holland Homes helped build the house.
“With sponsorship and a lot of love from the volunteers, this is the day to rejoice,” said the executive director of the Chattahoochee Fuller Center, Kim Roberts. “So we’ve taken something bad and we’ve made something beautiful.”
Just up the road at 319 Lee Road 38, Suzanne and John Polk waited to see their home. Suzanne has always loved the color blue and so the outside of the home, with its deep blue color and the inside with a blue decorated bedroom, was an added bonus.
“This is the Polk family, and this is a beautiful home,” Roberts said. “And regardless of what the devastation looked like after March 3, look at what it looks like today, because that’s what matters.”
Michael Dilworth, with Dilworth Construction, presented the home to the owners and shared a new purple Bible with them.
“It’s been an honor to work this week for you guys,” Dilworth said. “We serve a restoring God, he promises us restoration and the destruction that we saw months ago was terrible, but God always comes through and this is just an example of that.”
The Polk’s were also presented with a new lawnmower from Stihl, just as each of the new house recipients would be.
“We want this place to be as beautiful outside as it is in,” Snell said.
Suzanne had said she wouldn’t cry but when presented with the new home and the outpour of support from the volunteers, tears slipped down her cheeks.
“Thank you Jesus,” she said as she and John walked through the house.
This home was also sponsored by Highlands Church. Highlands was just one of many sponsors for the 11 homes built.
Other sponsors included Fuller Center International, Episcopal Churches, the Hallmark Channel, Cornerstone Foundation, Rotary District 6860 and Faith Community-Beauregard.
The completion of these homes required a lot of volunteers and many showed up from around the country. Volunteers came from states like California or from other countries like England.
Chris Johnson, vice president of communications for The Fuller Center for Housing, said that at least 29 countries and six states were represented by volunteers at the build.
The Legacy Build saw approximately 300-350 volunteers over the course of the week. Each of these volunteers donated close to 7-8 hours a day, Johnson said.