Written by: Rebecca Mitchell

When I first envisioned this evening, I thought the high of it all would be getting pie with my parents. Boy, was I wrong. The evening turned into something far more beautiful, and it still included pie.

All of us on the cross-country ride headed to the local Fuller Center surplus store for dinner, where Lee had cooked red beans and rice for everyone. As dinner was wrapping up, Henry had people share about their build day experiences. Michael, the construction manager, received praise after praise for leading the group on the build site. But the care of every Fuller Center member we met was amazing, especially Renee.

From the moment we met Renee it felt like we knew her our whole lives. She welcomed us with not just a handshake but a hug. She ran back and forth from the store to buy us a bounty of food. She catered to our every need and when we did the smallest of tasks she said thank you to us.

After the dinner Lee made us, we divided into two different vans, and those of us in Renee’s van had the pleasure of getting a tour around Shreveport. As we drove through the neighborhood we just listened, amazed by her extensive knowledge of the area. She told us story after story, all with care and enthusiasm. She drove us past the lot where she grew up and mentioned a few stories of her life and friends there. But this wasn’t even the most amazing part of our tour.

We drove to Hope Hill, the location of some of the first Fuller Center homes, and Renee pointed to the houses that they had built. Then something remarkable happened. As she was talking about people’s homes they would see her and come out to talk. They actually knew Renee and she knew them. They would talk to each other like old friends for a brief moment and then we would go on a little further and meet the next one. The Fuller Center houses absolutely stood out amongst all the houses we saw on the tour for their cuteness and charm. My heart swelled as I looked at these beautiful homes and realized how amazing it is to be associated with the Fuller Center in the small way that I am. And the tour wasn’t over there. We went to the veterans’ homes across town as well and, unsurprisingly, Renee knew their stories too. The people and their stories.

Renee, seeing you interact with the community members in the tour of the Fuller Center houses was the highlight of my time in Shreveport. The relationships you have built with every one of those people is incredibly beautiful. I can now truly see how the Fuller Center does not just build homes and leave the homeowners to figure out life. There is such care given, and you are a shining example of that Renee. This is the heart of the Fuller Center operation and I loved seeing a few beats of how it all works. Thank you God for putting every single one of us in that van and for the heart you have given Renee.

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