Fullers humbled by growing support - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Fullers humbled by growing support

February 12, 2005

Americus- It's seems there's no stopping Millard and Linda Fuller's supporters. The rallies are getting larger, the petitions are getting longer, and for many the fight to get them re-instated has really become personal.

Charlene Cunningham is thankful every time she opens her front door.

"I needed a decent home for my children to stay in and be raised in the way I wanted them to be raised," says Cunningham.

In 1994 she became a homeowner, something she says wouldn't have happened without Linda and Millard Fuller. In her home she cherishes a photo and dozens of signatures of the volunteers who helped build her house, including the Fullers.

"There will be no Habitat without Millard. There won't be a Habitat," Cunningham says.

She was just one of about 150 other supporters at a second rally for the Fullers. This time organizers say they wanted to send a message by holding it right across from Habitat's headquarters.

Marilyn and Barry Dobson were in for a surprise when they rolled into Americus Saturday morning.

"We heard about the international headquarters being here and we thought we'd spend the day, and maybe get some more information about Habitat because we're starting one in our little hometown," Barry Dobson says.

The Canadian couple never expected to find out the Fullers had been ousted and a support rally was in progress, but still they're hoping some good will come out of all the negative attention the organization is getting.

"That is a surprise and we hope that this will have no detrimental effect on the international and on the local chapter as well," says Barry Dobson.

"A lot of our friends still aren't aware of what Habitat for Humanity is and sometimes if you take a story like this maybe it will turn into something positive in the long run," adds his wife Marilyn.

The Dobson's say the situation hasn't marred their view of Habitat, but Cunningham isn't so sure.

"They may keep the name or whatever but everything in Habitat when Millard and Linda aren't there is going to change. It's going to change and I think the Lord will see to that. It's not going to work the way they think it is because it's God-given," says Cunningham.

Cunningham has volunteered since she received her home 11 years ago and even works on the Habitat homeowner selection committee. Now, she says if the Fullers aren't re-instated she isn't sure whether she'll continue to work with the organization.

So far more than 3,000 supporters have signed a petition being circulated around Americus and more than 1,800 have signed the online version. Supporters have planned a prayer vigil for the Fullers next Saturday at 10 AM. It will be held at Boone Park in Americus.

Millard Fuller says he's humbled by all the support he and his wife Linda are receiving.

Fuller did not attend Saturday's rally but met with a group of supporters after it had ended. He and his wife also met with Marilyn and Barry Dobson, who are starting a Habitat chapter in Orillia, Canada.

Fuller says he's overwhelmed that so many people are championing his fight to be re-instated.

"I'm grateful for the thousands and thousands and thousands of people who have come forward and expressed their support in this time of crisis. It has been so heartwarming. It has been something that has touched our hearts in ways that are difficult to describe," says Fuller.

Fuller says he's had no contact with board members since being fired, but prays for a reconciliation. Even if the board decides not to give him his job back, Fuller says he'll continue to carry out his vision of building homes for the needy.

Posted at 6:45 PM by elaine.armstrong@walb.com