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Childhood Lessons Learned

Faith Fuller is extremely passionate about her work. She knows no other way to work. She’s her parent’s daughter…

In 1965, Millard and Linda Fuller were living the American Dream. Millard, a lawyer by trade, was a self-made millionaire, and the couple lived in a big house with two young children. But there was discontent. Linda was lonely and emotionally isolated, a casualty of her husband’s entrepreneurial drive. With his business prospering and his marriage teetering on the verge of divorce, Millard’s health and integrity soon began to suffer. Something had to give.

After some soul-searching, Millard reconciled with Linda and renewed his Christian commitment. Determined to find a new focus for their lives, the couple sold all of their possessions, gave the money to the poor, and moved to Koinonia Farm, a Christian community near Americus, Ga. Not long after, Faith was born, a child of the reconciliation, as she puts it.

But Faith wasn’t the only result of the reconciliation. The couple had a fourth child, Georgia, and an idea. The idea was to build modest houses on a no-profit, no-interest basis, thus making homes affordable to families with low incomes. In 1976, this idea became known as Habitat for Humanity International.

Today, Faith Fuller is senior producer in the four-person video department at Habitat for Humanity, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this month with a week-long celebration/conference in Indianapolis. She travels around the globe, Sony VX1000 in hand, documenting the organization’s homebuilding efforts, which have benefited an estimated 500,000 people in 79 countries. But Faith Fuller doesn’t work at Habitat because of her parents. She works there in spite of them.

“I was working in TV news, but I wanted to get out of that because it made me a bit cynical and it didn’t have much meaning for me,” says Faith, who spent seven years as a general-assignment reporter and weekend anchor in South Carolina after graduating from Florida State University with a communications degree. “I never, ever, ever wanted to work for Habitat, partly because I don’t want to be known only as Millard Fuller’s daughter. But when I was home for Christmas after I left the station, everything just sort of clicked.”

The organization needed a video professional to help document its efforts in Africa, and Faith couldn’t deny herself the opportunity. The position combined her love of travel — to 40 countries in four years, as it turned out — and telling stories with video. And — most importantly — it stirred her passion.

“I can’t imagine doing something I’m not passionate about. There’s this real sense in my family that you shouldn’t do anything for money. You need to do what you’re doing for the passion,” says Faith, just as Millard and Linda must have told her countless times. “It’s instilled so deeply in me that I can’t imagine living any other way.”

She’s so devoted to this notion that she says there may come a day when she leaves Habitat to pursue other passions. In fact, she plans to take a sabbatical from Habitat this fall to begin production on a documentary video about Koinonia Farm, the spiritual birthplace of Habitat for Humanity and her childhood home. After that, who knows? The only thing for sure is that she will follow her heart wherever she goes.

“That’s my philosophy in life,” she says, “and you never know where you’re heart’s going to take you. But if you truly listen to your heart and you’re not afraid to leave a job, I think you’ll have a much more fulfilling life.”

Cody Holt is managing editor of Video Systems.

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