Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Fred Blackwell

I had a minute in between assignments today so I stopped by the Fuller Center office to chat with Fred Blackwell who will be moving into one of the homes built during the blitz on Alston Street.

Fred was busy, just like the rest of the staff, going over the final registration paperwork and answering phones as volunteers call in for information.

As he worked Fred shared with me that he was a Vietnam veteran of the U.S. Navy and that although he had been married, he became homeless after his wife passed away in 1988. Starting in 1995, he spent six years living on the streets in Texarkana. Finally in 2001 he came to live at the VA hospital in Shreveport as part of the homeless program there. After a year of working on the program and volunteering in the mailroom, the VA offered Fred a job as a mailman. He jumped at the chance and was soon living in a small apartment in a downtown high rise and working full time.

Just six years removed from the streets, now Fred will own his own home and live in what he calls a good neighborhood, the kind of neighborhood he grew up it. After he gets settled in his new home he plans to travel to New York and move his older sister, who is confined to a wheelchair, to Shreveport so she can live with him.

Even though he had knee surgery less than a week ago and is still on crutches, Fred says he plans to work at the registration or first aid stations during the build. When asked about volunteers leaving their own homes and families to travel across the country and build his home, he simply says "Where else would it happen but America?"

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