Friday, January 7, 2011

Rebuilding the Organization so we can rebuild homes.

It's the most challenging time in the short life of the Fuller Center for Housing -- Iowa Lakes.

We've lost volunteers to relocation and financial struggles.

We've lost board members to health problems and the press of other obligations. This pressure has led to some cracks in our once wonderful communication.

Lisa, the homeowner, and her girls, are still stuck in LeMars, Iowa, paying rent while keeping up on the house payments for the Terril house.

We did some marvelous work in 2009, raised money and got the word out.

2010 was a year of loss -- of board members and volunteers, of time and energy, of everything but hope and faith.

2011 we have to get it back. Alix started high school in LeMars. Mary is two now and building memories in her rented home where, essentially, the family is displaced.

So much of the heavy work is done. We've had amazing in-kind donations of materials. We even have a little money in the bank.

Can we all come together? What we need is a winter of healing and planning and a spring and summer of action so the Jensens can finally come home.

I've had some questions about whether this is just "giving away a house." It is not. First of all, Lisa Jensen already owns the home. Second of all, she will pay us back, over time, in affordable, interest-free payments, for the materials. Third, she will volunteer on a future project.

Our organization is sustainable. It's needed. What we need now is you. Can we heal together from the past year and have 2011 be a year of renewal, of joy, of a celebration when the Jensens move back in?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Help Bring the Jensens Home!

First there was the long winter where the roads to Terril, Iowa were nearly impassable. Then there were the Spring rains that made it muddy. Our homeowner partner, Lisa is in Le Mars with her daughter. Le Mars is down the road 98.7 miles from Terril. That's where the Jensens have been living when there was no affordable temporary housing available here in the Lakes area. Alex spent eighth grade at a new school. Lisa changed her entire plan for schooling and work. Their dog passed away.

We had a board member with cancer. Another is about to become a father for the sixth time. Some have had to take additional jobs or jobs out of town to make ends meet in this economy. One of our leaders has been living with a sustained illness that has caused overarching fatigue and sapped all energy.

It's been a tough year.

Alex is going into high school in the fall. She's been so helpful, so patient, and she made the most of her year as a Le Mars Bulldog by earning the most reading points in her school, and has a giant trophy to prove it. She needs her own room in her own house to display that trophy. She needs to bring her academic and athletic abilities home to Terril-Graettinger High School and make the transition to freshman year with her friends.

Mary turned two and is identifying Tyrannosaurus dinosaurs in pictures and displays. She loves books and is running around like a whirling dervish. She needs the security of being in her own home in her own town as she grows.

Lisa is anxious to put her talent for nursing and heart for the elderly to work here at home, and many assisted living and other facilities are hiring, waiting for someone like her to monitor the medical conditions and brighten the days of our elders.

This family needs to come home. We made a huge amount of progress on the house -- a near total remodel. It just is not quite enough to bring Lisa and her daughters home.

We're committed once again to being at the site each Saturday this summer. Ed Peterson is also committed to being there other times if we have a weekday crew that wants to come out.

We're regrouping, recovering, but we must move forward. The Fuller Center for Housing makes homes decent and livable for homeowners in need. We give a hand up, not a hand-out.

We need volunteers. If you're in Okoboji on the weekends, please consider coming out for part of a Saturday to swing a hammer. Or you could bring us lunch to the site. Or you could write a check for materials and other needs.

If ever there was a family that needed to come home, it's this one.

Bring them home.

Friday, February 26, 2010

New Challenges; New Hope

It snowed and it snowed and it snowed.

Word from the tropics was tragic news when the earthquake hit Haiti January 12. As a housing ministry, the Fuller Center's global organization is getting ready to bring sturdy, affordable houses to Haitians who may never have had that before, and certainly need it now more than ever.

You can read more about efforts in Haiti here:

We hoped to send our executive director, Ed, and more team members to Haiti in March, but severe snowstorms have halted our efforts in our big project house in Terril, and for now, we need to dig out and get going again out there when it's passable and not too muddy.

The good news is, it's mostly inside work from here on out. And as the walls and floors come together on the inside, and the addition takes shape, the Jensen family will have a home to weather all the storms that may come in the future, and all the sunny days ahead, too.

Older daughter Alex will be in high school in the fall. Mary is starting to talk, her impish smile warming worried hearts surrounding her.

Lisa, the mom, looks forward to getting back to her community and to working with the elderly in assisted living and long term care homes. That's where her heart is, and she's great at it. Their series of temporary houses have worn on them, and we plan to work through the upcoming spring to get them into their house and enjoying their back porch by summer.

Can you help? Read about our beginnings and donate through the Fuller Center global organization here:

Contact Ed at 712-441-5437, email us at, or write us at P.O. Box 27, Fostoria, IA 51340.

Watch this video to learn more about the Fuller Center for Housing:

Friday, October 2, 2009

October 17! It's a Party! Be there!

Here's the deal: we received a generous grant from Lakes Area Land Trust to do the kitchen at our project house in Terril! Yay! Rock on! The challenge: if we don't complete the project by November 30, the money goes away. You wouldn't think that would be such a big deal, but we work one day a week, Saturday, and sometimes it is just the homeowner, Ed and me at the project site.

We need to get it together.

I thought my volunteer recruitment efforts were fruitless until today when I received not one, but two amazing emails!

1) The Spencer Women of Today are coming out to volunteer for us.
2) A new volunteer has come up with a fantastic promotion idea -- Tag, You're It -- to recruit more volunteer teams.

Tag, You're It is still in developmental stages, but basically we will promote it through the media and different industries around town, starting with Rhonda as a health care professional, will recruit teams from their employer or industry. Health care might tag auto sales, auto sales might tag restaurants, restaurants might firms...until we have a whole community coming to their neighbor's aid.

That's what the Fuller Center for Housing -- Iowa Lakes is all about. Volunteer labor, donated or at-cost supplies, more livable housing and better neighborhoods throughout the Iowa Lakes.

Are you ready to be tagged? You're it.

Step up -- show us what we're looking for!

Monday, September 21, 2009

A year...

I just realized it's been a year since I started this blog. We had such hope and uncertainty a year ago. We have some now, but we're believing, hoping, enduring, celebrating, and most of all...doing!

Another Grant!


FOSTORIA -- The Fuller Center for Housing (FCH) -- Iowa Lakes was awarded a grant from the Lakes Community Land Trust to complete the kitchen at the project house in Terril, Iowa. FCH -- Iowa Lakes is the local covenant partner of The Fuller Center for Housing, a non-profit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry dedicated to eliminating poverty housing worldwide. By forming partnerships with local organizations, The Fuller Center provides the structure, guidance and support that communities need to build and repair homes for the impoverished among them.

The grant from Lakes Community Land Trust will allow FCH to complete the necessary wiring and plumbing work for the Terril house's kitchen, as well as install cabinets, purchase appliances, and and install flooring. The work will be completed by local volunteers working side by side with Lisa Jensen, the homeowner. "The Fuller Center for Housing was founded by the same family and on the same principles as Habitat for Humanity," Ed Peterson, FCH-Iowa Lakes Executive Director, said. "We don't give hand outs but rather a hand up to homeowners in need of repairs and remodels to make their homes livable."

FCH is also committed to working renewably and economically -- repurposing used or leftover materials when possible. The kitchen sink, refrigerator, lighting and cabinets have all been purchased from the ReNew store, a reclaimed building materials store in Spirit Lake.

"Donating to the Fuller Center for Housing is a wise choice for anyone's charitable funds," Amy Peterson, FCH-Iowa Lakes board secretary said. "We always work with low overhead and make the best use out of each dollar donated. We do all we can to treat our donors well and they can be confident that their donations are going toward mission, not miscellany."

The project house in Terril, Iowa began early in 2009 as a near-total remodel. Lisa Jensen, the homeowner, is a single mother of two daughters who had no one to help her repair and renovate her house. With donations from individuals and grant funds from two local organizations, the project has made substantial progress over the summer. However, more donations and volunteer hours are needed during the Fall to bring the project to completion.

"We've been very blessed and are very grateful for the support we have received from the community," Amy Peterson said. "We have hope we will continue to grow and develop in the year ahead."

Monday, August 31, 2009

We have a grant! Yay!

Fuller Center Iowa Lakes -- we have had the love of the global organization, our friends and family, and God (not necessarily in that order.) Now we have the love of the greater community as well. FCH-Iowa Lakes received a grant from the Dickinson County Endowment! Praise! Thanks! Wow! Yay! Now that we're legit, isn't it time you came out to volunteer?

Life is Good!