One of the most persistent myths we hear at Habitat for Humanity is that that former president Jimmy Carter founded our charity. Although that is not true, the Carters have been highly-dedicated volunteers of our organization for the past 35 years. Throughout his time in the White House, Jimmy Carter used his platform to shed light on the amazing work Habitat does. After, the Carters became even more involved, leaving behind a legacy of impact, with no sign of their work with Habitat slowing down anytime soon.
How’d it start?
The Carters’ journey with Habitat began in 1984, in Americus, Georgia. Co-founder Millard Fuller asked then-president Carter to visit Habitat’s work site, and after hopping on a bus to get there, he experienced one of the most remarkable days of his life. The Carters quickly realized that the missions of our organization closely aligned with their own, and a long-term partnership with Habitat blossomed.
Time as president
Jimmy Carter used his platform as president to bring some much-deserved attention to the work Habitat was doing in their local communities.
Just a few months after their first build, the Carters led a Habitat work group to New York. The build project was serving 19 families in need of a decent place to call home. This marked the inaugural Carter Work Project.
“I’m not sure the world would have found out about Habitat if President and Mrs. Carter in 1984 hadn’t gotten on that bus and taken a group up to New York to do that first big rehab project,” said Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International.
Building a legacy
Carter Work Project
The Carter Work Project is an annual week-long event that takes place in a different location each year. Their project has spread across the globe, working in places like the Philippines, and even here in the Greater Toronto Area!
Since the project’s debut in 1984, it has drawn the participation of over 103,000 volunteers who have worked side by side with the Carters to build, renovate or repair 4,331 homes in 14 countries.
Check out a full-sized map of these locations here.
What are they doing now?
As Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter are aged 94 and 91 respectively, you might think their age might start to slow them down. But not the Carters. Despite holding the title of oldest living U.S. president, Carter hasn’t opted to hang up his tool belt yet.
Most recently, in August 2018, the Carter Work Project completed its milestone 35th build in Indiana. They built and repaired 41 homes, creating a community built on love.
Before they even had the chance to kick their feet up from their 2018 build, the Carters announced they will be taking their work to Nashville, Tennessee this coming October.
The Carters are motivated by their desire to help in the face of housing issues that are becoming increasingly urgent. According to a 2017 housing report from the Davidson County’s mayor office, more than 200,000 residents are unable to afford the cost of housing. The Carters are working to tackle this crisis.
With no signs of their work slowing down anytime soon, it’s doubtful the Carters even have the word “retirement” in their vocabulary. It’s people like them that truly embody the Habitat spirit. When we work together with the goal of increasing affordable housing for hardworking and deserving families, we can move mountains.
Read more about the Carter Work Project here.
Become involved with Habitat HM and see for yourself how our work builds dedicated volunteers like the Carters. Sign-up to volunteer in under 30 minutes here.
See which build projects Habitat HM is working on here.