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'An amazing group of people:' Middle school teachers team up with nonprofit to refurbish house for student and his mother
lanier fuller center velvie project
Volunteers from South Forsyth Middle School and the Lanier Fuller Center for Housing that worked on the project stand on the finished front porch.

When South Forsyth Middle School teacher Linda Ebert noticed one of her students having “to shower at school because he didn’t have warm water at home,” she knew she needed to gather a group of teachers and friends to help the boy out.  

Ebert explained that when the student was in middle school at South, his grandmother passed away and willed him her old house off Old Alpharetta Road.  

Though refurbishing the house took “four long years,” Ebert, along with her coworkers and volunteers at the Lanier Fuller Center for Housing, finally finished the project and handed over the keys to the student, who is now a senior in high school, and his mother.  

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lanier fuller center velvie project
Volunteers stand in front of a dumpster full of gutted house materials. Photo courtesy Linda Ebert.

“That house was such a huge transformation,” Ebert said. “The basement was moldy because there was water standing in it, there were pressure cookers and needles in the yard, I mean, it was just a mess.” 

Ebert explained that when her student’s grandmother passed, “some distant relatives found out and moved in,” squatting in the building and diminishing its structural integrity and safety.  

“[The student] also has pretty severe asthma,” Ebert said. “So there really was no way for him to live in that house even if we’d done some cleaning. It needed to be totally redone.”  

While Ebert said that “the South family” had started the project in 2018, she was certain that it “would have never been finished if not for [the Lanier Fuller Center for Housing].” 

“I really didn’t know if we could all pull it off because it had morphed into such a massive project,” Ebert said. “But, as I told [Chuck Ingraham], he really was the definition of perseverance.”  

Chuck Ingraham, the CEO of the Lanier Fuller Center for Housing, said that it was “an honor and a privilege” to work on the project.  

“We believed our brothers and sisters in faith would provide the fishes and loaves and the Lord would multiply their donations,” Ingraham said.  

The “fishes and loaves” certainly came, and they came in the forms of monetary donations, donations of furniture, services and labor from volunteers ranging in age from 4 to 86 years old.  

The house had to be “gutted” and resealed, it needed new Sheetrock, septic system, windows, landscaping and “so much more.”  

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Kitchen before. Photo courtesy Linda Ebert.
lanier fuller center velvie project
Kitchen after.

Ingraham said that most of the projects were done for a discounted price or for free, and he called each of the service-providers and builders that helped along the way “angels … coming to our rescue.”  

Ebert said that as smaller projects began stacking up into a larger whole, she was feeling some guilt for asking the nonprofit for assistance.  

“I felt so bad because I knew this project was bigger than what they’d signed off on,” Ebert said. “But the Fuller Center just had the heart to do it. The priority of someone else’s wellbeing took precedence over any of the challenges that they faced along the way; it was just amazing.”  

In the past, the Lanier Fuller Center for Housing has worked “on smaller projects,” such as installing guardrails in houses and ramps on porches.  

“They are an amazing group of people with the highest level of integrity,” Ebert said. “To be able to give until they were almost bankrupt and then still just keep giving — that’s perseverance. 

“And they just kept saying that they couldn’t let [the student] down — that was one of the driving forces for the project.”  

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lanier fuller center velvie project
Mattresses were donated by Fred's Beds, and bedroom furniture was donated by different SFMS employees. Photo courtesy Linda Ebert.

She said even though many items were donated, and services were discounted, many members of the nonprofit decided to “dip into their own money” to continue funding the project.  

“For them to be underfunded in a community as affluent as ours is just sad,” Ebert said. “I wish the community could experience what they’ve done and are willing to do.”  

While Ebert’s student and his mother will have a “wonderful, safe and secure home” to spend the rest of their days in, Ebert reemphasized the “amazing help” she and her South family received from the Lanier Fuller Center for Housing, and she encouraged those that could donate time or money to get involved in any upcoming projects.  

“It really is a shame that more people don’t know about [the Lanier Fuller Center],” Ebert said. “They’re such an amazing group of people — and retirees at that. Truly amazing.” 

For more information about the Lanier Fuller Center for Housing, visit