Fuller Center for Housing in need of volunteers to complete local home build

Nonprofit's cross-country 'Bicycle Adventurers' lent a helping hand during stop in Detroit Lakes

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Jim Velde, local Fuller Center for Housing chapter president, at left, works with cyclists traveling through Detroit Lakes on June 21, 2022, as part of the Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure. The cyclists participated in a build day for the local chapter's home project on Dean Street.
Rebecca Mitchell / Fuller Center for Housing
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DETROIT LAKES — A local family of four will soon have a new place to call home, thanks to the Detroit Lakes chapter of Fuller Center for Housing... but to finish the project in time for fall, the nonprofit is in need of volunteers to help on "build days."

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Tom Thibeau, of Bangor, Maine, removes siding from the Detroit Lakes Fuller Center house project on Dean Street on Tuesday, June 21, 2022.
Rebecca Mitchell / Fuller Center for Housing

Every Monday, Thursday and Saturday this summer, until it's complete, builders will be hard at work on the new home, which is located on Dean Street.

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Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure volunteer Carrie Daiker adds siding to the exterior of the home on Dean Street in Detroit Lakes on June 21, 2022.
Rebecca Mitchell / Fuller Center for Housing

"It’s a nice three bedroom house," said Jim Velde, president of the local Fuller Center chapter. "It was donated to us from a family in Detroit Lakes that lived on East Shore Drive."

The land did not come with the home donation, however, so the chapter secured a new location at 396 Dean Street; the building was moved to its permanent location in early June.


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The house donated to the Detroit Lakes chapter of Fuller Center for Housing for its latest home project was moved from its original location on East Shore Drive to its permanent home on Dean Street earlier this month.
Beth Pridday / Fuller Center for Housing

"We made it into a rambler," Velde said. "The new family’s just tickled to death to be able to move in as soon as we get it finished. We hope to get them in there by Labor Day.

"We’re tweaking it up quite a bit on the outside, with new siding and new shingles on the roof; on the inside, we're fixing up some cosmetic things. We’ll fix up the yard and get it back to growing some grass again; it’s all ripped up now."

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Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure support team members Pam VanHoose, left, and Cindy Hepp, center, work with local volunteers at a Fuller Center for Housing project on Dean Street in Detroit Lakes on June 21, 2022.
Rebecca Mitchell / Fuller Center for Housing

Build sessions will take place from 5 to 7:30 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays, and 8:30 a.m. to noon on Saturdays. Volunteers are also needed to bring snacks, though all slots for this service are filled for the month of July, according to a Wednesday, June 29 post on the Fuller Center's Facebook page.

Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure makes stop in Detroit Lakes

Earlier this summer, the Fuller Center's annual Bicycle Adventure fundraiser made an overnight stop in Detroit Lakes during their 10-week trip cross country, traveling 3,900 miles from Oregon to Maine to raise money and awareness for the fight against poverty housing.

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Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure riders (front to back) Rolff Christensen, Steve Dobbs and Ron VanHoose ride between Fargo and Detroit Lakes on June 20, 2022.
Rebecca Mitchell / Fuller Center for Housing

A group of 17 cyclists arrived in Detroit Lakes on Monday, June 20, after a 61-mile ride from Fargo. After an overnight stay hosted by First Baptist Church, they spent a full day working on the local Fuller Center home on Tuesday, June 21.

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Fuller Center for Housing leaders and Bicycle Adventure volunteers work on a home project in Detroit Lakes on June 21, 2022.
Rebecca Mitchell / Fuller Center for Housing

The group then attended the Fuller Center's Tuesdays in the Park picnic fundraiser at the Detroit Lakes City Park.

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Fuller Center for Housing Bicycle Adventure participants and local home build volunteers (from left) Ron VanHoose, Daryl Olson, Pam VanHoose and Tom Thibeau stopped by the Detroit Lakes Fuller House chapter's Tuesdays in the Park picnic fundraiser at the City Park in Detroit Lakes on Tuesday, June 21, 2022.
Vicki Gerdes / Detroit Lakes Tribune

Four members of the group — Tom Thibeau of Bangor, Maine, Daryl Olson of Centralia, Washington, and Ron and Pam VanHoose of Nashville, Tennessee — sat down for an interview with the Detroit Lakes Tribune during the picnic, then spent another night in town before heading back out on the next leg of their journey on Wednesday, June 22.


The adventure started at Seaside, Oregon, on May 21, and was set to end in Portland, Maine, on July 31, said Thibeau, noting that by the time they were finished, they would have traveled "a little less than 4,000 miles."

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Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure participant Daryl Olson rolls through the hills of North Dakota on June 17, 2022.
Rebecca Mitchell / Fuller Center for Housing

Thibeau, Olson and the Van Hooses all planned to be with the group for the entire cross-country trip, though some joined the bikers later in the journey, and others would leave before reaching the end.

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Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure cyclist Laverne Nakai rides on a windy day in North Dakota on June 15, 2022.
Rebecca Mitchell / Fuller Center for Housing

"We'll put our back tires in the Pacific and the front tires in the Atlantic," Olson said.

"We're traveling through all the states that border Canada and the Great Lakes," Thibeau added, noting that they would also be making a stop in Niagara Falls.

"We'll get a half day to explore in Niagara," Pam VanHoose said, "though most days we get up early and move to the next city, unless there's a build day scheduled. "

Van Hoose is a member of the group that follows behind the bikers in a support vehicle equipped with bike repair equipment, spare tires, first aid kits and other supplies.

"We make sure they get food and water every 20 miles or so, and help them out if their bike breaks down," she said, adding, "So far, the weather's been pretty good, and no one's been injured."

If a cyclist needs a short rest, they can also ride in the support vehicle for a little while, until they've recovered their energy to continue, Van Hoose said, noting that the participants ride between 50-100 miles each day of the trip.


Their build day in Detroit Lakes was pretty productive, Olson said, noting that they'd managed to strip off the house's old siding (the original structure was donated by an anonymous contributor and moved to the Dean Street location) and added new siding on three sides of the structure before calling it quits and heading over to the picnic.

"This (the Detroit Lakes house) was No. 3 of 7 total builds we'll be doing for the trip," Van Hoose added, noting that while some planned to stay and listen to the free Tuesdays in the Park concert hosted by the Historic Holmes Theatre at 7 p.m., the four of them would probably be heading back to their host homes pretty early, as they would be starting off again at 8:30 the next morning.

In order to participate in the Bicycle Adventure, each of the cyclists was responsible for raising a minimum of $4,900, Thibeau said, with Olson adding that about 97% of the funds raised go directly into Fuller Center housing projects, as their food and shelter along the way is provided by local churches in each community.

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The local Fuller Center chapter's picnic fundraiser will be held every Tuesday through Aug. 30 at the Detroit Lakes City Park, in conjunction with the Holmes Theatre's Tuesdays in the Park summer concert series. Freshly grilled hot dogs and hamburgers with all the fixings will be served up from 5:30 until 7 p.m., when the music starts.

The suggested donation is $5 per plate, with the proceeds going to support local Fuller Center projects like the current home build.

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Musician Eric Reitan performs during a recent Tuesdays in the Park concert at the Detroit Lakes City Park Bandshell, June 14, 2022.
Vicki Gerdes / Detroit Lakes Tribune

Remaining concerts in the Tuesdays in the Park series include the Ulen Centennial Band, Aug. 2; DeMasi Brothers, Aug. 16; Larry Swenson, Aug. 23; and Lakes Area Community Concert Band, Aug. 30. There is no cost to attend, though a free will offering will be taken.

If you go

What: Tuesdays in the Park, with picnic provided by Fuller Center for Housing and music provided by the Historic Holmes Theatre
When: Every Tuesday through Aug. 30, with picnics starting at 5:30 p.m. and music at 7 p.m.
Where: Detroit Lakes City Park (artists will be performing at the bandshell)
How: Free will offerings will be taken for both the picnic ($5 suggested donation per plate) and the concert, with proceeds to support the Fuller Center for Housing and the participating artists.

A reporter at Detroit Lakes Newspapers since relocating to the community in October 2000, Vicki was promoted to Community News Lead for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and Perham Focus on Jan. 1, 2022. She has covered pretty much every "beat" that a reporter can be assigned, from county board and city council to entertainment, crime and even sports. Born and raised in Madelia, Minnesota, she is a graduate of Hamline University, from which she earned a bachelor's degree in English literature (writing concentration). You can reach her at
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