The Long Wait for Home

Published 10:33 am Wednesday, October 14, 2020



A long held dream may soon become reality for a Vienna couple and their handicapped son.

Laura and William Grace and Nicholas Hooks hope to have a house built for them soon so they can escape the government projects.

They have been waiting a long time.

“It’s been three years since we first applied to Habitat for Humanity,” Laura Grace said. “Three years, that’s a long time.”

The wait was made longer when Habitat for Humanity ousted founder Millard Fuller and a contentious legal fight followed. Finally after lots of negotiation, it was agreed that although it could no longer operate as Habitat for Humanity, it could carry on as the Fuller Center for Housing.
      But there is the matter of money.

All recipients of Fuller Center assistance must contribute a certain amount of their own money.

“My niece down in Florida got together with some of her friends,” Laura said. “They made a ‘GoFundMe’ site and raised a lot of money. “

But fundraising has taken a big hit.

“We’re a poor county,” Fuller Center director Melissa Langford said. “We have raised quite bit — from community donations and the sale of a house that we had — but I could breathe easier if we had a little more than what we need.’”

  There has been progress, Langford said, The lot has been surveyed and as soon as the foundation is inspected, the construction can begin.

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Beal-Shephard tries to weather the storm over City HallBy Neil B. McGahee Managing Editor Cordele City Commissioner Vesta Beal-Shephard was elected in 2001 to represent the people of Ward One. By all accounts, she has done a very good job of relating to the citizens living in her ward. Recently, however, a dark cloud has settled over City Hall. From the first day of his term, newly-elected commission chairman Joshua Antwan Deriso began taking verbal snipes on social media at some of the other commissioners. Shephard says she just ignored it at first but on April 9, Deriso posted on Facebook “…It was much anticipated for Comm. Rainey to be against change. Comission (sp) Shephard fights against me the hardest…does not know much about government at all…She needs to be voted out next year 2023.” A few days later, he posted live saying …“I am totally over the games, the political stuff…a lot of people want to make what I said about Commissioner Shephard something about disagreement with Commissioner Shephard. It was her ignorance and short-sightedness…not able to understand what we can do as a government. “When there were people in charge that didn’t look like us…white people… she didn’t question anything. Since I became chairman, she has blocked everything…you don’t know what you are doing; you don’t know what you are talking about.” Shephard winces as she listens to Deriso. “I don’t do drama and I don’t do pettiness,” she said. “I refute everything he has said about me. I’m not angry with Josh; I am somewhat disturbed that he has targeted me, a citizen of Cordele; a black female…he accused me of loving white folks. Well I do love white folks, and brown folks and black folks — Haitian, Jamaican, Indian, Cuban, Mexican — I have no discrimination to anyone. My job is to facilitate for people in this ward and when I vote, I vote my conviction.” Shephard said she doesn’t know why Deriso has such hard feelings against her. “It’s so sad, I have to say that I never saw it coming,” she said. ”But I have to voice my opinion.” But one sad thing has evolved from this. “This is the first time I have been discriminated against by a fellow commissioner,” she said. “I used to invite people to my home if they had a problem. But I had to stop that. If you want to meet with me, we will have to go to a public area or to my office at city hall. I am going to keep my distance for the simple reason that I don’t want to endanger myself.