Finding ways to become an integral part of a community is key to your success as an independent home improvement retailer, and working with an organization that serves your community and uses the skills and products available through your business could be a natural fit.
The Fuller Center for Housing, which strives to eliminate poverty housing through building and cleanup projects, offers service opportunities that complement what home improvement retailers offer.
About the Organization
“Originally, Millard, who was a dynamic speaker, intended to merely use his connections and talents to travel the country raising money for Habitat affiliates,” says Chris Johnson, director of communications for the nonprofit organization. “But that all changed after Hurricane Katrina hit and he was asked to come to Shreveport, Louisiana, and help house refugees from the disaster.”
That same year, Millard was asked to help build safe homes in Nepal, which led to more construction and The Fuller Center for Housing was born.
A Different Approach
So what makes the Fuller Center for Housing different from other nonprofits? Johnson says it’s partnerships.
“With a lot of organizations, the phrase ‘a hand-up instead of a handout’ has become almost a meaningless cliche, but that approach is a core principle for us,” Johnson says. “Our homeowner partners are not given homes or free repairs. They work alongside our volunteers and repay the costs of materials on terms they can afford, with no interest charged and no profit made.”
Through The Fuller Center for Housing, homeowners’ payments go into a fund to help others in their area have simple, decent homes.
“We’ve found that when people work for what they have, they tend to appreciate it more,” Johnson explains. “These principles go back to a Christian theologian named Clarence Jordan. He preached that ‘what the poor need isn’t charity, it’s capital; not case workers but coworkers.’ We believe his statement from the 1960s remains true.”
An Important Partnership
“[Cardwell] thought NRHA’s focus on independent retailers and The Fuller Center’s grass-roots focus would be a good match,” Johnson says. “He was right. In 2014, we had our annual conference in Indianapolis, and the relationship has truly taken off since then. Several covenant partners across the nation have developed strong ties with local retailers, and a lot have benefited since then from a $1,000 matching grant program that results in $2,000 that covenant partners then spend on materials from local, independent hardware retailers.”
Covenant partners are local Fuller Center affiliates. Both NRHA and The Fuller Center work together to encourage retailers to get involved by donating materials or volunteering on worksites the local partners initiate.
“We’ve been associated with The Fuller Center for Housing since 2011 and have found it to be a great way for our entire industry, including wholesalers, manufacturers and independent retailers, to come together in their communities and help their neighbors,” says Bill Lee, president and CEO of NRHA and chairman of the board of directors for The Fuller Center for Housing.
How to Get Involved
If you are looking for a way to get involved and help those living in your community, then The Fuller Center can help you, Johnson says.
“We’re not just empowering families; we’re empowering entire communities,” Johnson says. “We encourage our covenant partners to get to know their local retailers and let them know how they can help. But that’s a two-way street, and we’d love to hear from local retailers who come to us and want to know what they can do.”
To find a local Fuller Center partner, go to FullerCenter.org/locations.
“If you are looking to get involved in your community and help, I would encourage you to look into The Fuller Center for Housing,” Lee says.