Photography by Alex Anton
On Saturday, July 20, 2019, on a secluded, wooded lot in a Weeki Wachee neighborhood, a relatively new-to-the-area nonprofit organization dedicated to providing affordable workforce housing broke ground on their first residential construction project. Alongside several community members, local businesses and elders from Community Church in the Wildwood, The Fuller Center for Housing Nature Coast (FCHNC) ceremoniously began construction on a new home for a family in need in Hernando County.
The Fuller Center, headquartered in Americus, GA, is a nonprofit organization which was founded in the Spring of 2005 by the same couple who founded Habitat for Humanity. The Fuller Center’s mission centers on communities coming together to construct homes for those in need with the ultimate goal of the recipients paying back the costs on terms they can handle. According to their website, “A fuller Center home is not a handout, but a hand up.”
The foundation was brought to the Nature Coast by several former employees of Habitat for Humanity’s Hernando County ReStore. The core of the team consists of Rich Massa (CEO), Denise Damianakes (CFO), Marina Edwards (Community Relations Director) and Christi Muise (Community Development Director) as well as a board of directors. Roughly six months ago, Rich Massa began working with the idea of establishing FCHNC and on May 1st that plan became a reality. Within 60 days of establishing the organization, they had their first family and subsequently procured the first lot for a home.
In line with the mission of the Fuller Center, the construction of the home will be accomplished via strategic partnerships with several area businesses, all chipping in to accomplish the amazing task of providing a place to live for a family whom until now found themselves bouncing around looking for steady living accommodations.
One of the major sponsors of the project and the provider of the seed money to get the construction up and running is Community Church in the Wildwood (CCW). When Rich approached the elders with the idea of FCHNC, they not only saw an opportunity to do great things in their community but also had the perfect candidate for the first family. Nathan, a father of a special needs daughter and construction day laborer, has been involved with CCW for seven years. The Elders of the church knew Nathan was in need and were able to provide the perfect solution to his troubles.
The organization’s first groundbreaking ceremony kicked off with some inspiring words from Mr. Massa:
“Honestly, this is exactly what this is all about. This is not about Fuller, not about the shovels. It’s about a community coming together and being able to change the direction of somebody’s life, a family’s life, that might not have had an opportunity…. It’s being able to take the individuals and give them the opportunity they might not have got before.”
Once the dirt was thrown and the shovels replaced, Nathan spoke about the gracious charity being undertaken on his behalf. A construction worker himself, he was asked if he would be assisting in the building of the house to which he replied with humor: “oh yeah, I got to. It’s what I do.” As the ceremony was drawing to a close, Nathan and his daughter Lindsay were visibly overjoyed with what was happening. Nathan considers himself “very blessed, thankful” for the support which is being shown and is looking forward to getting the project moving forward.
Community sponsors for FCHNC’s current project include The Atlas Group, TDR Community Development, Southern Sky Solar, and Bayside Trailer Trash.
FCHNC is always looking for more community support in the form of monetary support as well as volunteers to assist in the home building projects.
To get involved, please go to their website (https://fullercenter.org/nature-coast/