Community Renewal partners
with Fuller Center
on El Salvador Blitz Build
Click here to see photos from the El Salvador blitz
For release: Dec. 1, 2008
Community Renewal International partnered with The Fuller Center for Housing during the recent El Salvador Blitz Build in which 16 strong houses and countless strong relationships were constructed in one week.
Community Renewal's David Westerfield worked with the Fuller Center during the week to help tell the story of renewal in a remote, impoverished region of the country. Some families there have been living in houses with scrap plywood and plastic garbage bags for walls and nothing more than dirt for a floor.
The new houses have a concrete slab foundation, cinder block walls, running water, electricity and a tin roof that will not leak. Family after family cried in gratitude at the house dedications, saying never in their boldest dreams did they imagine owning such a nice house.
"You see how a house changes their lives. They get such a boost," said Mac McCaslin, a prison minister from Indianapolis who also helped with the two previous blitz builds in Shreveport, La.
"If we all reached out and helped our neighbor, think how fast this world could turn around. And everyone is our neighbor."
Newspaper photographer Shane Bevel, who also helped with the Shreveport builds, and his new bride, Frances, went on the El Salvador blitz for their honeymoon. He now works for the Tulsa World.
"I recently bought my first home and a lot of people have probably worked harder than me and still don't have a home. I don't think that's fair," Shane said.
"This is a way to show appreciation for what we have, and the new life we are starting out on, by helping someone else start a new chapter in their life."
Teen-age brother and sister Robert, 17, and Lisa Corsi, 19, of Oceanport, N.J., brought youthful enthusiasm and energy to the El Salvador blitz build.
"This is a chance to see the world and how other people live. And it's a real good way to help out and make a difference," Robert said.
"You hear about the poverty in other countries like El Salvador, but you don't understand it until you see it. Now everything I complained about back at home seems so trivial."
Community Renewal's partnership with The Fuller Center started soon after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast in 2005. Since then, a total of 33 houses have been built as part of the Building on Higher Ground initiative in Shreveport's Allendale neighborhood. Five more houses are under construction.
"Our partnership with Community Renewal is wonderful. We build houses and Community Renewal builds community. We will leave the world better than we found it," said Millard Fuller, founder of Habitat for Humanity and founder and president of The Fuller Center for Housing.
Community Renewal International is a nonprofit effort to restore safe and healthy communities through caring relationships. Founded in 1994, Community Renewal reaches at-risk youth through Friendship Houses built in impoverished neighborhoods, strengthens education through the Adult Renewal Academy, partners with The Fuller Center for Housing and connects caring partners who turn their neighborhoods into safe havens of friendship and support.
Contact: David Westerfield, director of communications