by Tom Kerlin
“Build An Ark” Animal Rescue Center
Coosawattee River Resort
Preparations are underway for a volunteer undertaking in Ellijay, Georgia and leading the charge, so to speak, is Lester
Buildings dealer, Jordan Building Construction owner Ed Jordan Lanham.
Lanham, owner of Jordan Building Construction in Brooks, GA, is a certified dealer and installer of Lester Buildings in
Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama. Through that connection he was selected as the contractor in charge of a
project that rivals anything that you might see on some of those television programs centered on re-constructing
destroyed buildings. Ed described it as the TV program “Extreme Home Makeover" on steroids.
When tornadoes struck North Georgia on April 4 of this year, one of the structures that was destroyed was a barn
outside Ellijay used for animal rescue. “Build An Ark Animal Rescue” found its mission in jeopardy. With no shelter and
limited funds for rebuilding, the organization faced an uncertain future.
The shelter not only cared for rescued animals, it used those animals to inspire disabled kids, senior citizens and those
youths who were considered at-risk by the local court system and were sent to the center to care for the animals in
order to fulfill their community service obligations.
That’s when The New York Says Thank You Foundation jumped in to give hope and inspiration to “Build An Ark Animal
Rescue.” Begun in 2003 the Foundation has become one of the nations leading organizations which uses the 9/11
Anniversary to transform a tragedy into a positive, hands-on platform for national volunteer service.
According to its literature, the Foundation sends hundreds of volunteers, not only from New York but disaster survivors
from all across the country, each year on the anniversary of 9/11 to help rebuild communities recovering from disasters.
The Foundation is the group’s way of saying Thank You for all the love and support Americans extended to New York
following the attack on the World Trade Centers in 2001.
This year in addition to 50 New York City firefighters, Ground Zero construction workers, 9/11 Family Members, New
York City school children and many other volunteers from the Big Apple, as well as volunteers from all across Georgia,
survivors from Hurricane Katrina and tornadoes that struck Illinois, Indiana, Texas, Kansas, Iowa and Arkansas will
descend on Ellijay to “pay it forward” by helping rebuild a barn for “Build An Ark Animal Rescue.”
Although Lanham has already been hard at work on the project getting everything ready for the big day, the official
“barn raising” began July 28. Ed has spent his time preparing the site, laying out the building and pouring a concrete
Lanham of Jordan Building Construction, join Lester Buildings dealer Bob Lotspeich of S.L. Construction, Archie MO.,
Lester Buildings of Lester Prairie, Minnesota, New York Says Thank You Foundation, and as many as 1000 volunteers
to construct a 10,000 square-foot barn, including a 720 sq. ft live-in apartment and 288 sq. ft. office, to house the
Rescue organization. The apartment and office will be built to the latest “Green Building” practices.
In addition to constructing the actual building, Lanham and the group will build an outdoor amphitheater in the hill
adjacent to the barn and transform trees destroyed in the tornado into items like fences, benches, signage, and biblical
art-work on stall fronts. An outdoor education pavilion and 2 run-in shelters will also be constructed.
Lanham hopes the project will be 75% completed by volunteer labor. After the big weekend, the remaining construction
should be finished by Jordan Building Construction’s forces within 45 days.
According to Susan Littlejohn, of “Build An Ark Animal Rescue”, the main goal of the rebuilding project is to “strengthen”
the rescue organization “by empowering children and families from the local community of Ellijay, and as far away as the
Atlanta Metro Area to volunteer in this interactive family farm and animal rescue program.”
Jeff Parness, founder of New York Says Thank You Foundation, says New Yorkers “will never forget what the people
from Georgia and small towns all across the United States did” in the aftermath of that terrible day in September 2001.
“Helping rebuild Susan’s barn and strengthening the community of Ellijay is our way of honoring that incredible spirit of
kindness and volunteerism that united our nation on 9/12,” said Parness.
As for Lanham, he says he is proud to be a part of the effort and honored that he was chosen to head the project. He
cannot help but get emotional when talking about the barn raising. “This is what it’s all about,” he says, “giving back to
your community and helping those who need our help.”