By Dean Palmer
PILOT MOUNTAIN — In a transition that is now well under way, the organization formerly known as the Pilot Mountain Area Habitat for Humanity has become the Surry/Stokes Fuller Center for Housing, Inc.
Stephanie Johnson is a former board member and family selection committee chair of the PMAHFH group who is now serving as chairperson for the Surry/Stokes Fuller Center. According to Johnson, the decision to transition to the new organization came about earlier this year.
The former group had been forced into a “freeze,” she explained, due to its inability to meet the requirements of the Habitat for Humanity International parent organization. With the limited land and other resources available, Johnson said, the small rural group was not able to keep up with the required number of housing starts expected.
Some members of the former group found an answer to their dilemma in the Fuller Center, a newer organization started by Millard Fuller, founder and former president of Habitat for Humanity International. While sharing Habitat’s focus on building homes, the Fuller Center also offers a program for restoring existing homes. Local volunteers found the latter option an ideal way to help with local housing needs while working with limited resources.
Dubbed “The Greater Blessings Program,” the effort focuses on homes owned by residents lacking the funds or physical ability to maintain a state of minimum repair. Examples of repair projects might include homes with missing bricks or siding, foundation issues, plumbing or electrical problems, broken windows, leaky roofs or a needed handicap ramp.
The program is available to Surry and Stokes County residents with need. Once repairs are complete, the Surry/Stokes Fuller Center works with each homeowner to help them structure an affordable repayment plan. All of this is done without charging interest, without the use of a mortgage and without requiring the title to the property as collateral.
“I believe the Fuller Center is better suited for rural areas,” Johnson noted. “These smaller projects can be accomplished with less commitment of time and resources. This will allow us to work with our available resources with a different level of expectation.”
Formed in 2005, the Fuller Center is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization with covenant partners in 70 communities and 16 countries. While each local organization signs an agreement to work in partnership to build or renovate houses for families in need in their agreed area, all fundraising, construction and family selection is done on a local level.
The Fuller Center was formed after Millard Fuller was removed from the Habitat for Humanity International board due to significant differences in vision and philosophy. However, both groups continue to share a similar purpose and have worked together on frequent occasions.
According to Johnson, the Surry/Stokes Fuller Center is now in the process of building a new board and is seeking both board members and committee members in all facets of service.
“We’re looking for volunteers,” she noted, “that are excited about the opportunity to provide the necessary improvements for safe, secure homes. We’re looking for people who want to help people and families who need it.”
Surry/Stokes Fuller Center is taking applications from Surry County and Stokes County residents whose homes are in need of repair and who are physically or financially unable to meet those needs. An immediate goal is the completion of a first project by the end of the current year.
“We recognize that these are hard times for people,” Johnson said. “Not a lot of people can afford even a no-interest loan on a new home. We want to help people stay in their own homes, homes that may have fallen into disrepair maybe because they haven’t been able to afford upkeep. We want to help.
“And we’re still looking at the possibility of building in the future,” she added, “as more people and resources become available.”
Anyone wishing to apply for home repair may request an application by mail at P.O. Box 671, Pilot Mountain, NC 27041.
Anyone with questions concerning the Surry/Stokes Fuller Center or wishing more information on becoming a board member, committee member or volunteer may call 710-1321.