Melissa Merrill and 35 other cyclists peddled 50 miles Wednesday, spent the night in Houston and then woke up Thursday to help build a house.
The group was part of the Fuller Center for Housing spring ride on the Natchez Trace with Parkway Baptist Church feeding them and letting them sleep in their Family Life Center.
“We started in Nashville and stopped in Tupelo to help renovate a house,” said Merrill, of Americus, Ga. “I love cycling and I love helping people improve their homes through the Fuller Center. This ride lets me do both.”
The group started out March 15 from Nashville and was in Houston five days later. The trek is called the Bicycle Adventure Natchez Trace Spring Ride and is a fundraiser for the Fuller Center.
The Fuller Center for Housing is a non-profit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry dedicated to eliminating poverty housing worldwide. They form partnerships with local organizations and seek to build or repair homes for the impoverished.
The group drove to Greenwood Thursday to build 22 sets of steps for Katrina Trailers that have been refurbished and will be distributed to people around the state.
“The bicycle adventure is The Fuller Center’s single biggest fundraiser, having generated more than $700,000 in the past five years for the fight against poverty housing around the world,” said Merrill. “This is our second year for the Natchez Trace Spring Ride. We’ve got people who will ride from Savannah, Ga., to Vancouver, B.C., this summer to raise money for the Fuller Center.
Merrill stressed the Fuller Center is not a handout but a hand up.
“We seek to develop these covenant partners in the community and stay in contact with them and help them year after year,” she said. “There is always a need for safe and affordable housing. We would love to do this again next year and maybe work on a house in this community.”
In the United States alone, almost two million people live with a hole in their roof, 3.7 million live with broken windows and 2.5 million live in a house where the foundation is crumbling beneath them. Just over one million people live without complete plumbing facilities.
The Fuller Center was started in spring of 2005 by Millard Fuller and his wife Linda, who co-founded Habitat for Humanity in 1976. The Fuller Center is a Christ-centered, faith-driven organization witnessing the love of God by providing opportunities for families to have a simple, decent place to live.
The group that peddled through Houston last week was made up of cyclists from 11 states and they come from a variety of backgrounds.
“We will finish up this 400-mile ride Saturday in Jackson, and the Natchez Trace has been beautiful and the ride has been great,” said Merrill. “The best part is when we are finished we will have built a better life for somebody.”