Square Foot Ministry and many helping hands are bringing Ms. Derryll back to Church Street

Ms. Derryl Anderson (with Rick Halbert) looks on as her new home receives finishing touches. Photo/City of Fayetteville, Ga.
Ms. Derryl Anderson (with Rick Halbert) looks on as her new home receives finishing touches. Photo/City of Fayetteville, Ga.

Derryll Anderson grew up on Church Street next door to the church and across the street from the park. Over the years, she moved away but remained active in the heart and soul of Fayetteville. This spring, she will return to Church Street thanks to help from Square Foot Ministry and an army of friends and loved ones, who not only donated money toward her new house, but who also helped physically build it.

Fayetteville-based Square Foot Ministry has been doing this for decades: helping people build their own home when they would otherwise not be able to afford it. In fact, their first-ever build was on Church Street, just across the street and down a bit from where Ms. Derryll’s is currently under construction. So, while it is a homecoming for Ms. Derryll, it is a homecoming for Square Foot Ministry as well.

Some may recall that Ms. Derryll’s life story was highlighted in a special Black History Month video produced and published by the City of Fayetteville in February 2023. Then, she told how her parents met and settled on Church Street, her father building their family home by hand. The Anderson Family was influential, not only among Fayetteville’s Black population, but also among the wider community. Ms. Derryll has carried that legacy with her over the decades while serving as a community activist, elections poll worker, voter registration advocate, and Fayetteville Planning & Zoning Commission member.

These days, Ms. Derryll works part-time as an information clerk at Fayetteville City Hall, greeting all who enter and assisting those in need of direction.

Over the last few years, work colleagues learned of Ms. Derryll’s housing needs, and they helped her connect with Square Foot Ministry. Julie Brown, the City’s Planning & Zoning Manager, was particularly helpful in garnering support from fellow staffers and coordinating the City’s involvement in the project.

After a round of fundraising and volunteer recruiting, Square Foot Ministries located the perfect plot of undeveloped land on Church Street. That plot was owned by Fayetteville First United Methodist Church, which caught the vision for what Square Foot Ministry was doing in bringing Ms. Derryll back to Church Street, so they gladly sold the land.

Along the way, Trilith Development, QTS Data Centers, Walton Communities Fayetteville, the Fayette County Democratic Party, and the City of Fayetteville came on board as project partners. Dozens of other local organizations have also contributed to the cause.

“Ms. Derryll is special to Fayetteville, and it is gratifying seeing the community come together like this to help her,” said City Manager Ray Gibson. “Quite a few of her coworkers from the City helped frame up the house during the two-day build Square Foot Ministry hosted, and we all had a great time working together. If we all woke up every day with the goal of positively impacting someone’s life, the world would be a much better place.”

Gibson noted that Ms. Derryll’s house build has the added significance of being the start of another wave of revitalization in store for the historic Church Street community.

“Ms. Derryll’s house will be the first one on the left as you enter Church Street from the downtown side, and it is one of two new homes to be built on that piece of land currently under construction,” Gibson said. “City leaders have been meeting and communicating with Church Street residents for the last couple of years to develop plans to continue to make meaningful improvements for these residents, many of whom have lived there for generations.”

Ms. Derryll’s new home is expected to be ready for move-in by early May, and planning for the second house next to it has already begun. Square Foot Ministry leaders say they hope to have that second home built and occupied this year as well.

For more information about Square Foot Ministry and their home projects, visit https://www.squarefootministry.org/.