What a difference a week, some hard work and a lot of love can make. Two Springfield families have better lives now because of Fullerstock, a joint project of the Springfield Fuller Center for Housing and Habitat for Humanity. Springfield Baptist Church was the covenant partner for Fullerstock, but several groups pitched in to make this event a success.
Volunteers both young and old, the youngest was 11 and the oldest was 86, showed up to do what they could to make life a little better for the recipients.
At 202 Commercial Avenue, the home of Kenny and Michelle Thompson was given a complete transformation. Construction overseer Chris Brown had his hands full as the house was gutted inside and redone, with much of the work done by volunteers from Isaiah House in Willisburg. They put in 10-12 hour days during the week, even working on a scheduled day off, just to make sure the house would be ready by the Saturday deadline.
Over at 703 Claybrook Avenue, workers battled rainy conditions while building a deck and doing interior work on the Habitat for Humanity house that Christy Key and her family will soon call home. Both locations were beehives of activity last week as each project slowly came together.
Both projects also got some help from a group of cyclists from the Fuller Center for Housing, who are biking from Michigan to Florida in an effort to raise $200,000 for the charity. Springfield Mayor John W. Cecconi took time Wednesday afternoon to recognize the hard work that Isaiah House, the Fuller Center bikers and everybody else involved had put into the projects with a ceremony at city hall, where the mayor presented keys to the city to the Fuller House bikers and members of Isaiah House.
As the Fuller Center bikers departed for Winchester, Ky. on Thursday morning, work continued through the rest of the week. The weather was difficult at times, but workers held their ground.
By Saturday morning, the final touches were being put on the Thompson home as employees of BB&T bank worked on the interior of the Key house on Claybrook. It was a mad scramble on Commercial Avenue as the Thompsons were scheduled to arrive around 1 p.m. At the last minute, window dressings were going up as beds were assembled and appliances put back in their place.
Although things were a little behind schedule, the few extra minutes were worth it when the Thompsons got their first look at their remodeled home.
After a dedication prayer by Terry McIlvoy of Springfield Baptist Church, the Thompsons made their way inside, where they were greeted by members of Isaiah House, who worked tirelessly throughout the week on the house.
The kids all ran to check out their newly decorated bedrooms and Kenny Thompson tried out the expanded doorway to the bathroom, one of the major items on the checklist.
To have seen the house before work started and to see it a week later, it was hard to believe it was the same building. Worn out kitchen cabinets were replaced with a new set donated by Barber Cabinet. Old windows were replaced with new ones and rotted floors were ripped up and replaced.
Kenny Thompson was speechless, but his gratitude was obvious as he spent time with members of Isaiah House in the kitchen.
At the same time, across the city, the Habitat for Humanity house at 703 Claybrook Avenue was being prepared to receive its new owner, Christy Key. Key, who has three children, was busy Wednesday afternoon doing some work on the inside while also checking out work on the Thompson house.
“I’ve been pitching in,” said Key. “I have bruises and scars. I have war wounds. It’s an emotional time. I’ve been emotional for about a month and a half. That’s how long I’ve known.”
Key has lived in the housing authority on Melavin Circle for four years with her three children, son Brandon, age 11, daughter LaDymon, age 8 and son J.D., age 4.
“I need the yard space,” Key added. “J.D. has severe ADHD, so this is a blessing.”
Key got some help from her sister Shawna Hazelwood and cousin Michelle Thompson, but a lot of the work was also done by volunteers. Workers from BB&T Bank pitched in last week by fixing up the interior.
Overall, there was a sense of friendship and compassion at each house during Fullerstock. Each crew seemed driven to go the extra mile to complete their work and they all seemed genuinely proud of what they accomplished.
Key is hoping to be moved into her new home by August 1, just in time for the start of the new school year.
“I don’t know if I’m scared, I don’t what to say,” Key said. “It’s something that I can call my own. By the grace of God, we’ll make it. I’m blessed.”