Six years after completing its first house in Carroll County, the Greater Carroll County Chapter of the Fuller Center for Housing is nearing completion of its second home and gearing up to start a third.
The Fuller Center for Housing is faith-driven and Christ-centered, and the group promotes collaborative and innovative partnerships with individuals and organizations in an unrelenting quest to provide adequate shelter for all people in need worldwide. Just as it did six years, the Carroll Chapter of the Fuller Center has relied heavily of the work of Building Trades students at Carroll County High School for the second home, which is being constructed on Hanging Tree Road.
The first home was built on the campus of Carroll County High School and moved to Crestview Drive when it was near completion. The second home has actually been built at its final destination on Hanging Tree Road, which organizers say added extra meaning.
“The Fuller Center couldn’t be where we are at right now with this if it wasn’t for what the school system has done,” said Carroll County Board of Supervisors’ Chairman Robbie McCraw, who also serves on the Carroll Fuller Center’s Board of Directors. “This is the second house. The first one they built behind the school. And it was great and it was done in a timely manner. But we lost an element of what the Fuller Center is after. The Fuller Center is after community involvement and we lost that element with it being there. This has worked out amazingly well. God puts people in places and makes things happen for a reason.”
In this case, McCraw said the Fuller Center received a blessing in disguise when the original property for the Hanging Tree Road house had to be tossed due to some issues that made it unfeasible. It put the local chapter about 10 months behind to obtain the property on Hanging Tree Road.
“But the blessing we got out of getting this piece of property is we got two other pieces of property close by all ready to go,” McCraw said. “And we also have another set of walls that is ready to go that was gifted to us last fall, so we have another house ready to go. It is close enough to where they can use it.”
CCHS Building Trades students began working on the second home last October until Christmas break. Their work resumed in March and continued on until almost graduation. The goal is to have the home ready for its new family by the start of the 2018-2019 school year.
“The work they have done has been outstanding. When they came in here, it was pretty bare,” McCraw said of CCHS students. “And these walls were built offsite. They were stored for almost two years and so they were probably not all plum and probably not all straight, so they had some work to do. It was a job.”
The third Carroll Fuller Center home is set to begin construction by the end of October. The group is currently accepting applications for that home. Potential applicants must meet certain income guidelines and must also go through a credit check.
“Those are about the only two requirements there is,” McCraw said. “If someone qualifies for a home and their credit is not the greatest, we have some credit counseling to help them get that improved. There is a process that goes through that is handled afterward where we will come in if they have questions or if they have problems or issues with anything going on with the house. We try not to leave them hanging.”
While a solid foundation is already in place for the local chapter, McCraw said the group needs more community involvement. The Greater Carroll County Chapter of the Fuller Center for Housing has its own Facebook page that is monitored regularly, as well as a website (https://fullercenter.org/hillsville-virginia). People interested in joining or helping the organization may also call Robbie McCraw at (276) 233-3374 or the local Fuller Center chapter directly at (276) 733-2385. Organizers ask citizens to please leave a voicemail if calling that number.
Hands-On Work For CCHS Students
Carroll County High School Assistant Principal Roland Hall said he is very proud of how the shop looks at the high school. It used to have 40-year-old equipment, but Building Trades instructors like Justin Quesenberry and Vance Leggett have worked extremely hard to get it upgraded.
“I got a real nice text from Justin the other day when he went to Virginia Tech and he said our shop is nicer. If our shop is nicer than the Tech shop, we are alright,” Hall said. “And I appreciate these guys being willing to come out and do live work like this. These guys do tremendous work. I am a fan of live work with CT. So many programs now are pushing the modular work and modular programs where you sit in front of a computer screen and you learn. I don’t know, I guess I am a little more old-fashioned than that. I like the live work in all the programs.”
Quesenberry said the level of work CCHS students have done on the Fuller Center home far exceeded the college-level work he witnessed recently at Virginia Tech.
“We went there and their students were doing an end table and creating signs,” Quesenberry said. “And I am thinking, ‘Well, my students have been wiring a house and putting in a panel box and the college-level students are building an end table.’”
McCraw said that kind of hands-on work in the field is great for students because it allows them to determine if this is a career path they actually might want to pursue.
“You can sit and look at a computer all day but if you don’t have your hands around it you don’t know if it is something you want to do or not,” McCraw said.
He noted that the Fuller Center was founded by the original founder of Habitat for Humanity after he noticed Habitat was beginning to drift away from its original mission. The Fuller Center is a lot smaller organization but has stayed true to its founder’s plans, he said.
“And we would love to get a lot more people involved. The first house was great. It has got a single mom and her kids in it and they are happy,” McCraw said. “That is the whole idea behind Fuller – to provide affordable housing for everyone. And it is not handed to them. The family has to provide sweat equity. And we carry an interest-free mortgage for them that is put into escrow and they have to make their payments. I am excited about what our potential is and I am excited we can help the schools and excited for what they do. It gives you a purpose and that is what is good about it.”
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN