In celebration of President’s Day, we’d like to acknowledge the 39th President of the United States, Jimmy Carter. James (Jimmy) Earl Carter, Jr., has been a powerful advocate in support for affordable, decent housing for all.
In March of 1984, when he was jogging by the New York City Habitat build he thought to himself, “Rosalynn and I should come up and give them a hand.” Ever since that day, President Carter resonated with Habitat’s mission of helping families achieve their dream of homeownership.
President Carter and Mrs. Carter realized Habitat’s mission aligned with their values – they understood the need for families to have a stable, affordable foundation to grow. With this, President and Mrs. Carter formed a partnership with Habitat for Humanity and have been building to improve homes through the Jimmy & Rosalyn Carter Work Project.
Although Carter is most known in the world for his notable accomplishments as the President of the United States, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, the Governor of Georgia, and more, in Habitat’s world, President Carter is known as our most famous volunteer. Over the course of 30 years, President Carter has inspired millions of people in 14 countries while working alongside more than 104,000 Habitat volunteers to build, renovate and repair 4,390 homes.
“We have the ambition to share some of our good fortune with others. Habitat gives all of us an opportunity which is very difficult to find. To be able to reach out and work side byside with those who never had a decent home, but work with them on a completely equal basis.” Carter says.
“I’ve learned that these new homeowners are just as hardworking and ambitious as I am, their family values as just as good as mine, and they want the same things for themselves and their children as I want for me and mine. What Rosalynn and I have seen time and again is that when people become homeowners, their dignity and self-respect increase dramatically. Because they’ve worked so hard themselves to complete the home, they become filled with a new pride that inspires them to reach for other things that they previously considered out of their grasp, such as an education.”
“We know this because we often revisit Habitat sites where we have built in the past in order to see what has happened to the homes and the neighborhoods. Never have we seen a Habitat home with graffiti on the walls or a broken windowpane that wasn’t repaired or a lawn that wasn’t mowed. People who build and pay for their own homes are proud of what they have accomplished, and they don’t let their homes deteriorate.”
“You can see this pride in the faces of the partner families on the day that they receive the keys to their new home. They know that they aren’t being given a handout but a hand up, because they have done their share of the work and they will be paying their share of the cost. Participating in this ceremony, especially when you have helped in constructing the house, can be an overwhelming, emotional experience.”