Pamela Hawley's Interview with Millard Fuller, founder of Habitat
for Humanity& The Fuller Center for Housing
Pamela: Millard, you've accomplished so much in your life. What has
driven you in your service?
Millard: Values and passion. This work that I do is my passion. Human
beings were created for a purpose. Thoreau said (paraphrase) "So many
people live lives of quiet desperation." I am not one of those people. I
feel blessed to do what I do. I am here to help my neighbor. And that's
natural for everyone, it's the human motivation to express concern, caring
and love in tangible ways.
Pamela: How has this view translated into your work of building homes?
Millard: We say to our families and the world: We have a place for you. We
have a decent, secure place for you to live and have an abundant life.
We have a "greater blessings box" which helps pass on the good. We go and
do the work with someone, with the family, and the Fuller Center puts up the
money. I think putting a mortgage on people is a hard methodology. So
what we have done for you is a gift. We want to give you the opportunity to
give back as you are able, but it is not a legal commitment. So we have a
box you can give to help another person have a home, too. It's spiritual
accountability. It is being enthusiastically accepted.
Pamela: Millard, it sounds as If you are rapidly building the Fuller
Center. How does it differ from Habitat for Humanity?
Millard: To me, this work is a spiritual calling. We need to outreach to
the desperately poor. We go to do the work first. We put up the money. In
the U.S. it's about $55,000-$75,000 to build a home. Overseas it's about
$4,400, between $2,500-$5,500. We have 78 homes, 26 completed, and homes
in Congo, El Salvador, Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, among others. We keep it
grassroots and simple. I want our local partners to have even more of a
voice in the process.
Pamela: You've already lived a devoted life and done so much good for
others. What do you see for yourself in the next 5-10 years?
Millard: If I have another 8-10 years of being active, we will turn this
organization into a big one. It's great because we're going a lot faster
than the first time.
Pamela: Mr. Fuller, thank you so much for your time and sharing your
passion and vision. Is there any advice you have for me?
Millard: Well, I'd say live simply. We're getting too rich. Clarence Jordan
was a mentor for me in this way. In my case, we were millionaires before we
were 30. And it came at a price. It's a lonely place. Your family could
leave and you could have a lot of money, but it's not a very rich life. So
we need to fundamentally and drastically change our lives. Stay close to
your values, live it in every way you can.
Pamela: Mr. Fuller, you are an inspiration and thank you for all the
lessons learned. For anyone who would like to support the Fuller Center,
please click here to show your support for The Fuller Center housing projects all over the world.
Photo credit: The Fuller Center for Housing, Millard Fuller speaking to a crowd of volunteer builders in Manila, Phillipines