Volunteers feel special allure of 30th Carter Work Project
NEW YORK CITY — A special sense of history permeates the 2013 Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project in New York City. Thirty years after it began, the project is back in the boroughs. Everyone involved seems aware of the milestone and awed by the opportunity to celebrate it with service.
Actress Emily Bergl left the comforts of Hollywood for a hot, humid attic in Queens, where she spent her Monday measuring and scoring drywall. Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter’s middle son, Chip, and his wife, Becky, worked alongside Bergl and two longtime volunteers, Sherwood and Marsha Kirk.
Andrea Nangle, a National Service program specialist at Habitat for Humanity International in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, took mission leave to volunteer at this year’s project. The AmeriCorps alumna spent all day Monday trimming insulation. “I like being here this year, when the Carter Project is coming back to where it all started,” she said.
Beth Goffe works as an administrative assistant to the head of sales at PepsiCo in New York. The PepsiCo Foundation is donating all the soft drinks for the weeklong build, and so many employees were interested in volunteering, the foundation had to hold a lottery. Goffe won the chance to do manual labor for a day, and she was enjoying every minute of it Monday. “I love it!” she said. “It’s the first time I’ve built with Habitat, but it will not be my last. President Carter is such a great man. He’s the first president I really remember being aware of. It’s so special to be here doing this.”
LeRoy Troyer has been to 28 Carter Work Projects. The only two he missed were the first two, which were in New York City in 1984 and 1985. “I wasn’t here then, but I’m here now,” said the 75-year-old architect from South Bend, Indiana. Troyer is the supervisor on a two-story house renovation in Queens Village, where the former president and his wife will join volunteers to build on Friday.
“Jimmy and Rosalynn really helped build Habitat,” Troyer said. “We’re all so grateful for that. They really helped bring awareness of our work to the world.” Troyer was on the board of Habitat for Humanity International back in the early days of the organization and remembers when the affiliates only numbered about 75. Now, Habitat works in every U.S. state and in more than 70 other countries. “It’s amazing to think back on where we started,” he said.
— Teresa K. Weaver
82-year-old gets help with repairs in Denver’s Globeville
DENVER, Colorado — Beatrice Treviño sat in a big, brown recliner in her living room Monday, listening to the bulldozer rumbling in her front yard.
“This house is going to look a lot better,” she said, smiling. “It’s going to be beautiful.”
Volunteers with the Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project are restoring Treviño’s home this week, adding a front porch, putting in new windows, replacing screen doors and repainting the exterior. Hers is one of 15 homes that volunteers are repairing in Denver’s Globeville neighborhood.
The blue-collar neighborhood, which has a fascinating history as a smelting town, was already in decline when Treviño and her husband moved into their home in 1965.
“People said, ‘Why are you buying there? There are projects there,’ ” Treviño recalled. “I told them, ‘They are people just like us.’ ”
Treviño worked for 25 years at Plus Poultry, cutting up and packaging chickens and turkeys. When she got home from work, she’d fix up the house, repairing the leaky roof and taming the weedy yard. But Treviño is 82 now and recovering from a bout with cancer. Her husband died in 1996.
Keeping up the house is no longer within her power. That’s why the volunteers’ help this week is so crucial.
Treviño doesn’t want to leave her home — “I really love my house,” she says — and she doesn’t want to leave her neighborhood.
“This is a beautiful, good neighborhood.”
Just a few blocks from Treviño’s house, on the site of the former Stapletown Projects, Habitat is building 11 new townhomes. The work site buzzed with activity Monday as a giant crane lifted sections of roofs onto three townhomes. Volunteers wielded hammers and paintbrushes, getting the other townhomes ready for move-in.
Reflecting on all the changes in her community, Treviño beamed. Habitat, she said, “is the best thing that could happen to Globeville.”
— Soyia Ellison