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A niche in their hearts

Work on the JCWP build site begins early—and often at a moment’s notice.

“We got called at 5:55 this morning to come and help with food service,” says Priscilla Banghart of St. Joseph, Mich. “In my creative writing class, I have to write about a ‘moment in the week,’ so I think I’m going to write about that call!”

Priscilla Banghart straightens up the food tent in Benton Harbor after a busy on-site breakfast.

Pricilla and her husband Bruce have had perhaps the most important, if easy to overlook, job on the site—filling volunteers and homeowners with the protein they need to make it through a busy morning of pounding nails, laying down shingles and doing many other physically taxing jobs around the site.

The Bangharts are longtime supporters of Habitat. They have built with the Collier County affiliate in Naples, Fla., and Bruce is part of a “Thursday crew” of men who meet for breakfast and then spend the day working on Harbor Habitat houses. This same crew helped with pre-building for the Jimmy Carter Work Project, producing many of the homes’ walls and all 20 porches.

“Being St. Joseph residents, we do have feelings of empathy for the Benton Harbor community,” Priscilla says. “I taught school in Benton Harbor, so the town has a real niche in my heart. We want to do anything we can to help change the lives of those who have such a struggle.”

Priscilla and Bruce are just two examples of how faithful locals are using the Jimmy Carter Work Project as a chance to lend a hand in their community. For them, the project is a way to do something about the decay and lack of opportunity that have overrun Benton Harbor.

“And it’s great for people who like to pound nails!” Bruce says.

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