Sunday, March 4, 2012

Henry County Middle School a symbolic backdrop for U.S. site of 2012 Legacy Build

Submitted On March 01, 2012
Chris Johnson, Director of Communications
Fuller Center for Housing, Inc.

The middle school years are among the most transformative in people's lives. It's a time that boys and girls are shaped into the men and women they will become.

That's why it's fitting that Henry County Middle School sits squarely in the middle of the area that will host the U.S. portion of the 2012 Millard Fuller Legacy Build, an event that will be transformative for the McDonough, Georgia, neighborhood known as Blacksville.

"A decent house environment can help students have a certain pride and confidence about themselves that can spill over into the school setting," says Dr. Kimberly Anderson, principal of Henry County Middle School.
Among those keenly aware of how Henry County Middle School provides a symbolic backdrop for the Legacy Build is Dr. Kimberly Anderson, the school's principal since August 2010.

“The middle school years are very crucial in the development of a child,” said Anderson, a St. Louis native who has spent 19 years in the education field and holds a doctorate in school improvement from the State University of West Georgia. “That is why it is important for us to focus on the social, emotional and educational needs of our students.”

Among those whose job it is to help meet the needs of those students is Pamela Carter, the executive director of Communities in Schools of Henry County, an affiliate of the statewide Communities in Schools program that aims to increase student achievement and reduce dropout rates. Her office is tied to Connecting Henry, where Shane Persaud is the Youth Development Program coordinator in addition to leading The Henry County Fuller Center for Housing.

“What I'm hoping to do is bring some resources that are in our community to the schools, not just Henry County Middle or Henry County High but all 50 schools that we have in the county,” Carter said. “We have more than 40,000 kids that go to school in Henry County. My job is to come in and try to provide those level one services -- which is to make sure kids have basic clothing, they have food, they have utilities on at home, all of those necessities that many of us take for granted. My job is to make sure that I reach as many of those kids as possible in the schools and make sure that those services are available to them.”

Both Anderson and Carter appreciate what Persaud and the Henry County Fuller Center have done for the Blackville area since 2009 and know how much of a difference the Legacy Build can make this year.

“Shane has been quite instrumental with what I do through Communities in Schools because he works with me as the program manager for the Youth Work Force,” Carter said. “What Shane has done has put him in a position where he's a lot of times in that community, what they call the Blacksville community, because a lot of our kids come from that area. So he's in the homes. He actually sees the condition of the homes. He really has the heart for that community and for helping to renovate some of those homes because he sees some of the issues that they have there.”

Though he is an architect and leader of a Christian housing ministry covenant partner, Persaud's passion is in building communities more than houses. He stresses the “holistic approach” of The Henry County Fuller Center's work in the area.

“It's about the families and about the children of our communities,” Persaud said recently as he walked along Holly Smith Drive, which runs between the school's main entrance and a few of the homes that will be repaired as Greater Blessing projects. “If we can provide better services for them, then we can give them the tools that they need to excel in life.”

That's music to Anderson's ears as she aims to continue boosting performance at the school.

“My vision for Henry County Middle School is for it to become a high-functioning middle school with strong community partnerships,” she said. “Since the school is the heart of the community, it is important for all stakeholders to come together to help support the academic and emotional needs of students. This is important because the well-being of the community helps to make up the school and vice-versa.

“A decent house environment can help students have a certain pride and confidence about themselves that can spill over into the school setting.”


Carter, a former teacher at Henry County Middle School where one of her eighth-grade language arts students was current Atlanta Braves superstar slugger Jason Heyward, believes that the Legacy Build will enhance pride in the neighborhood and help overcome negative perceptions that aren't true.

“The principal even said she has had some people come to her and say, 'I know you have something to deal with over there because your kids are illiterate. They can't read.' And she said that her heart dropped because her kids CAN read,” Carter said. “Dr. Anderson has a lot of good things going on in her school. It's what they think about that particular area. That whole area needs to be beautified and have a sense of pride for that area again.”

And a sense of pride is crucial to the development of middle school-aged kids.

“They become much more aware of how people view them, how they view themselves and how they view their families,” Anderson said. “Further, peers become much more important to this age group, which in turn helps to influence how they see themselves and how they may view their families. During the middle school years, it is very important for students to feel like they fit into the social environment.

“I feel that what students are exposed to during the middle school years, in particular, helps to shape who they will be as adults.”

That's why Carter believes there's no time like the present to improve the community around the school.

“One thing that we do through Communities in Schools, as well as through our work with Connecting Henry, is trying to break some of these generational curses, breaking the cycle,” she said.

And nowhere in Henry County does that cycle of curses need breaking moreso than in the Blackville area.

“It's like a forgotten community,” Carter said. “They know it's there, but it's not on their radar. This could really change the image and give the individuals who live in that area some pride.”

View the video below to see Henry County Fuller Center President Shane Persaud discuss the upcoming Legacy Build while standing outside Henry County Middle School.

Legacy Build 2012 - A Preview With Shane A. Persaud from Henry County Fuller Center on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Henry County to Host Legacy Build in '12

It is with great pride and honor that the Henry County Fuller Center for Housing  announces that it will be the host location for the fourth Millard Fuller Legacy Build in 2012.  David Snell, President of Fuller Center and Director of US Field Operations Kirk Lyman-Barner opened up discussions with the Covenant Partner earlier this month to see if we were willing to accept the invitation.  We are excited to say that we accepted that invitation  with open arms!! The 2012 Millard Fuller Legacy Build will take place Sept. 9-14.

The Millard Fuller Legacy Build, named in memory of The Fuller Center and Habitat for Humanity founder Millard Fuller, is an annual, internationally recognized week of building that brings attention to the need for simple, decent and affordable housing.

Some very serious strategic planning and fundraising will take place over the next few months with the help and support of staff members from the Americus Office. They will be working very closely with our Board Members and Committee Members to ensure a successful build.  During that time our Site Selection and Construction Committees will scout around McDonough, Hampton, Stockbridge and Locust Grove in order to identify an appropriate work site that will support somewhere in the vicinity of  200 volunteers for a period of 1 week. Many of those volunteers will be flying in to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and will staying at local hotels and motels in Henry County.  Others will be coming into town with their RV's or staying with friends or family. They will  be frequenting many of our local food establishments and shopping at our local stores during their short stay here.

Similar in scope to the work we completed in Summer 2009 under the Atlanta Fuller Center and in 2010, we will be looking to partner up with some of our local churches, businesses and organizations.  If you would like to  partner up with the Henry County  Fuller Center please email us at

We will be looking to recruit local contractors who are willing to take on the role of house-captains or team leaders. Give us a call at 678-551-0800. We would love to hear from you.  To learn  more about what is being planned i n Peru follow the following link - Dates set for 2012 Millard Fuller Legacy Build.

To learn about the Fuller Center for Housing please visit To learn more about your local "chapter" visit

Shane A. Persaud, President/Volunteer
Henry County Fuller Center for Housing, Inc.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Volunteers Pitch In To Help Tornado Victims

Monday, May 2, 2011

Special Photo Henry County Emergency Management Director Don Ash helped to clear fallen trees and other debris from a home in Spalding County, during a clean-up effort in the aftermath of recent tornadoes in the area.
By Jason A. Smith

More than 40 Henry residents gathered in a neighboring community over the weekend, to assist victims of storms that ripped through portions of the Southeast, including the Southern Crescent area.

Local volunteers went to School Road in Spalding County Saturday, to clear debris left by the recent tornadoes. Henry Commission Chairman Elizabeth "B.J." Mathis, spearheaded the endeavor. The team of volunteers she took to the area worked for about six hours, she said.

"The house we spent the most time on, was a couple who had no homeowner's insurance," Mathis said. "We were able to completely clear all the trees from their yard, and put them along the roadway for Spalding County Public Works to pick up later. Some of them were so large, you couldn't reach your arms around them."

Mathis said the volunteers were split among different areas in Spalding County, as well as Lamar County, which was also affected by the tornadoes.

"The bulk of the volunteers were on Old Hwy 3, in Sunnyside," she said. "Some were over on School Road, at the Christian Women's Center. Additional volunteers were at other homes on the same street, doing similar work. Thanks to three volunteers, we had three Bobcats working on [one] street, and were able to get a lot more accomplished."

Don Dunlap, a business teacher at Patrick Henry High School, was among those who volunteered for the clean-up. He and other members of the Henry team, loaded Bobcats full of heavy equipment, to be hauled away from the site.

There were lots of trees on houses," said Dunlap. "It was amazing, the amount of damage that was done to these homes."

Dunlap said the volunteers' eagerness to help the Spalding community carried over into Sunday. Some of them returned to continue their efforts.

Mathis said Henry's relief effort was sparked by a telephone conversation she had Thursday with Spalding County Commission Chairman Eddie Freeman. "He said the damage was massive, and they couldn't respond to all the areas as quickly as they wanted to," Mathis said.

The tornado entered the southwest corner of Spalding County around midnight Wednesday, heading northeast, said Freeman, in an interview with the Henry Daily Herald last Friday.

Freeman said the destruction was "tremendous," and that an elderly man and his caregiver perished in the storm.

"We have 400 homes that are either, damaged or destroyed, and 14 businesses that are damaged or destroyed," said Freeman.

He added that firefighters from Clayton County came to Spalding to provide assistance, in the wake of the tornado.

Elsewhere in the Atlanta area, Kroger grocery stores are encouraging customers and employees to contribute to tornado-relief efforts, by making donations to the American Red Cross. Customers can round up their purchases to the nearest whole dollar at all Atlanta Division Kroger locations, which include stores in Georgia, South Carolina, northern Alabama and eastern Tennessee.

"Our hearts are with our friends and neighbors in north Georgia, Huntsville, [Ala.], and across the Southeast, who have been devastated by this horrendous natural disaster," said Glynn Jenkins, director of communications and public relations for Kroger's Atlanta Division. "Our customers and communities come together during times such as these, and we are so appreciative. Their generosity truly makes a difference in the lives of so many people."

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Students get lessons in citizenship, service

Article Courtesy Of Clayton News Daily©
Photo by Johnny Jackson
Joni Barlow gives a presentation, using a projector slideshow, as she shares with classmates her experiences in the community service learning course at Patrick Henry High School.

By Johnny Jackson

Joni Barlow was visibly emotional as she shared the lessons she had learned over the past semester at Patrick Henry High School, in Stockbridge.

"Even though you think you don't deserve it, because of the bad things you did," said Barlow. "God believes you do."

This, the student said, is what she takes away from the school's community service learning class. The class is now two semesters old, and has graduated roughly two dozen students, who are progressing toward becoming active citizens and community leaders, according to the school's community service learning instructor, Don Dunlap.

Some did not make it this year, but most did, said Dunlap. He said a dozen of the 18 students who signed up this semester for Patrick Henry's community service learning class, will graduate Wednesday, April 27.

"It's much greater than the sum of its parts," he said. "They really have been transformed in learning about the opportunities in the community for them to give of themselves."

Dunlap said the community service learning class is built on national standards, so students earn academic course credit for taking it. However, it was born out of a collaboration between the school and the Turning Point Church, an 8-year-old, 700-member McDonough congregation.

"It was just an open door," said Turning Point Pastor Michael Turner, as he recalled the process of partnering with the school to provide no-cost mentoring, and volunteer opportunities, to students at the alternative school.

The partnership to build community leaders at Patrick Henry began with a challenge Turner said he posed to his youth minister, Brad Post.

"I sent Brad on an assignment to find out what are the needs of our community," Turner said. "A common thread was a need for teen mentoring. We call it 'Dream Builders' at our church.

"What's cool is that I was this kid in high school," he added. "I came from a single-parent home, and almost every young man here does not have that relationship with their father."

The partnership began during the 2010 Spring Semester at Patrick Henry. Students voluntarily met after school with members of Turning Point and volunteered on weekends for various community service projects.

Dunlap said the school began to implement the class during the 2010 Fall Semester. The Patrick Henry instructor said he has seen some students transform from apathetic individuals, into community-oriented citizens who value and care for other people in need. For those students, he said, the community's needy become less like distant objects, and more like three-dimensional people worth being helped.

"I talk about our students graduating and becoming good, contributing members of our community. I think that's the goal of education," said Dunlap, of his motivation to create the partnership.

Some students, like Jon Wilson, Trey Johnson, and Kameron Thacker, acknowledged the obstacles they were asked to overcome in order to become better citizens. Many of them related to the community leaders who were invited to speak to the class this semester.

"Everyone has a purpose in life, even though you don't see it at the moment," said Thacker.

Henry County Board of Commissioners Chairman Elizabeth 'B.J.' Mathis and Stockbridge Mayor Lee Stuart spoke of their respective pasts in the youth ministry and the military, and what inspired them to become public servants.

"We learned that the choices you make now affect your future. And if you're passionate about something, you'll do it for free," noted student, Brandi Hargis.

Students freely volunteered their Wednesday afternoons to listen to the community leaders. On weekends, they helped to repair homes through the Henry County Fuller Center for Housing.

"It's more than a community service class," declared student, Ashley Swint. "You learn a lot more than that."

Click here to read a little about Don Dunlap

Click here for Turning Point Church on Facebook

For PHHS On Facebook Click Here

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Meet "Big Red"...

Trailer Donated to the HCFC by Ms. Joyce
A few weeks ago I was carrying on business as usual, and as I walked over to Ms. Joyce's desk (she volunteers over at Connecting Henry), she looked up from her computer and said to me in her sweet southern voice, "I noticed that y'all were looking for a Trailer for the Fuller's not an enclosed one but I believe I have a 4x8 in the garage that y'all can have. It's just been sitting there for God knows how long."  - I almost spilled my coffee!

Thanks to the wonderful and generous Ms. Joyce Rodgers, the Henry County Fuller Center now has a small trailer that we can use to load up with tools and building materials as we head over to our next project(s).  In the short time that I have lived in Henry County, I have met some of the most passionate & caring people who are always looking out for you and always looking to make a difference in their own way.  And if you know this family, you know that the apple does not fall far from the tree! Both Ms. Joyce  and Denese have been the HCFC's biggest supporters and cheerleaders from Day One. We would like to say THANK YOU to the Rodgers, from the bottom of our hearts!

For more information about Fuller Center and the Henry County Fuller Center, please visit and

Shane A. Persaud
(678) 699-2308 or
President/Volunteer, Henry County Fuller Center for Housing, Inc.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Stockbridge teen benefits from Henry County Fuller For Housing, Inc.Center

Article courtesy of Henry County Times©

Jacob Adams with 4-year-old sister Avery enjoy a day out at Stone Mountain.

By Cristy Smith
Staff writer

Most all of us know what it is like to be a teenager eager for more independence and so badly wanting to inch further and further away from the nest. But what if you were a teenager unable to walk?

Jacob Adams, 14, was diagnosed before birth, with Spina Bifida, a condition where the backbone and spinal canal do not close, and he has never known that independence.

“He is unable to go outside by himself, and he has to crawl to get to his bathroom,” explained Carrie Adams, Jacob’s mom.

But thanks to the Henry County Fuller Center, a non-profit housing organization, and the employees from the True Value Regional Distribution Center in Jonesboro, Jacob now has a direct route from his bedroom to his bathroom. A wheelchair friendly door was added to Jacob’s bathroom entrance from his bedroom, handicap bars were added to the bathroom, and a wall-hung sink in the kitchen that he can access easily, and a 10’ by 10’ deck with ramp were constructed on the rear of the Adams’ home.

Henry County Fuller Center volunteers partnered with the True Value employees this past weekend to upgrade Jacob’s home to American Disability Act (ADA) standards.

Not only does Jacob have to go through extreme measures to do what most would consider being simple tasks, but it has also been taking a toll on his body and even more importantly, his spine, making this project that much more urgent. These additions will give Jacob more independence and lessen the stress on his spine.

“Jacob has scoliosis and has had a complete spinal fusion where they straighten the vertebrae and insert a rod and wiring which is tough on his spine… usually it’s just a portion of someone’s spine that this is done to, but this had to be done to his entire backbone,” said Carrie. “I really worried about him crawling from his bedroom to the bathroom.”

Now that Jacob is able to get himself around, his 4-year-old sister Avery will not have as much fun pushing him around in his wheelchair inside the house.

“Avery really enjoys pushing her big brother around and helping him out,” said Carrie. “Even though they’re 10 years apart they are very close.”

The modifications made to his room and bathroom have Jacob enjoying his teenage independence and has allowed him more time to do activities like watching wrestling, listening to music, playing guitar and drums, playing on his PlayStation and facebooking.

“Jacob keeps telling me he loves his new bachelor pad,” laughed Carrie. “It really is quite amazing what they did. It’s perfect.”

According to Shane Persaud, President of the Henry County Fuller Center, anyone living in substandard housing is eligible to apply for assistance from the organization.

For more information on The Henry County Fuller Center, to inquire about a housing application, or to become a volunteer, visit their website at or

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

True Value regional distribution center gives Henry County a big boost in volunteers

Fuller Center for Housing Henry County is helping 13-year-old Jacob, right, become more independent with its work at Jacob's home this Saturday.

The Fuller Center for Housing Henry County already had big plans this weekend – a roof repair in McDonough, Ga., and a project to make a Stockbridge home more accessible for a wheelchair-bound 13-year-old named Jacob.

Shane Persaud, director of the Henry County covenant partner, said Tuesday he is still drumming up funds for the two projects. But Persaud doesn't expect to expend a lot of effort trying to find volunteers to work this weekend.

The volunteers found him.

The True Value regional distribution center in nearby Jonesboro, Ga., contacted the Henry County FCH and said they were looking to do some volunteer work as part of the company's Day of Caring.

They called the right place.

“It's a huge deal,” Persaud said. “They are going to send 40 volunteers our way Saturday. So we're gonna split them up – send 20 to the roofing project and 20 to the ADA project.”

Persaud made that statement about 4 p.m. By 5 p.m., the number of volunteers looked to be around 45, according to Tony Carver, warehouse superintendent at the distribution center.

"The company has had the Day of Caring for a while, and we've been looking to get the distribution centers involved," said Carver, noting that other efforts to find volunteer projects garnered little response before someone told him they had heard UPS had enjoyed good working experiences with the Fuller Center. "So we called the Fuller Center, and they were very responsive."

Carver said that Persaud seemed overwhelmingly delighted with the volunteerism offered by the True Value RDC.

"I think Shane was expecting maybe 25 or 30," Carver said with a chuckle. "I've been pleasantly surprised with the participation. It looks like we'll have around 45, which is almost 50 percent of our workforce here. Coming out on a Saturday in the heat with kids starting school and some employees having to take kids off to college and such, I'm just real happy with the participation rate."

The family partnering to have the roofing work has informed Persaud that they would have family and friends do the work of tearing off the old roof Friday so that volunteers can get straight to work putting on the new roof Saturday.

“I got a good quote today (on the shingles),” Persaud said. “And I'd think with 20 volunteers and maybe 10 on the roof and an air compressor gun that we ought to be able to get that new roof on in two or three hours.”

As for the ADA project in Stockbridge, the team will be tackling three tasks: adding a kitchen sink at wheelchair height, widening a bathroom doorway and refitting the toilet, and building a wooden deck that is level with the ho and has a ramp.

“At 13, he's becoming more independent,” Persaud said of Jacob, who suffers from a fused spine and was supposed to be undergoing surgery Tuesday. “They have a concrete back deck now with about a 12-inch dropoff. We're going to replace it with a wooden deck flush with the main floor so that he can more easily get outside.”

Headquartered in Chicago, True Value Company is one of th world's largest retailer-owned hardware cooperatives with more than 5,000 independent retailers. The Fuller Center for Housing would like to thank the company and its generous team in Jonesboro for their outstanding support.

For more information about True Value, click here.

Want to get involved with Shane Persaud and FCH Henry County or donate to this weekend's work? Click here.