Tuesday -- Oct. 30, 2007 -- Famous and not-so-famous builders -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

Tuesday -- Oct. 30, 2007 -- Famous and not-so-famous builders

Garth Brooks assisted a crew installing vinyl siding.


Trisha Yearwood helped prep for installation of siding on a house being built by an all-women construction crew.


Students at San Fernando Elementary already know what their teacher Carly Simons has been doing this week at Habitat for Humanity’s Jimmy Carter Work Project 2007, but Halloween will be a special day for show and tell.

Volunteer Carly Simons, who’s been painting this week, said she needed to show up for work Wednesday in a Halloween costume, so she’s planning on wearing her paint-flecked clothes and JCWP tool belt.

“It’s such a coincidence,” she explained. “In the unit we are working on right now, one of their vocabulary words is ‘crew.’ We are supposed to talk about all the different meanings the word can have. I’ve been teaching this material for six or seven years now, but this year is just perfect. I’ve never before been able to say, ‘I’m on a building work crew.’”

Being able to tell her students that really brings “it all home for me.”

Your Habitat who’s who

Keeping the average volunteer away from celebrities is not a problem at either construction site. Keeping the Blogbuilders team from celebrity spotting is another matter.


Country music superstars Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks stopped by the San Pedro construction site of the JCWP, paying respects to President and Mrs. Carter as kitchen cabinet installation continued around them. Yearwood stuck around to help install siding on a house being built by an all-women construction crew, while Brooks did his share of work around the corner.

Married into the family

Actor Glynn Turman, perhaps best known for his roles on TV’s “The Wire” and “A Different World,” lent a hand, too. His wife, Jo-An, is director of marketing for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles, so he’s pretty sure this will not be his last build. “It’s been a great experience,” he said. “It’s wonderful to work with so many different people in this kind of village environment.”

Lassie, come home
June Lockhart
, the mom on Lassie and Lost in Space, looked very pressed among the construction crowd. She shook hands, greeted homeowners and charmed everyone else.

How-to, Habitat
Karl Champley, DIY Network
home improvement show host, has been wandering the Vermont Avenue site this week with a camera crew, interviewing volunteers and staff and capturing the action for a program on JCWP 2007. Champley appears on the how-to network’s “DIY to the Rescue” and “DIY Inside: The Home Builder’s Show.”

Habitat photographer Steffan Hacker and writer Shala Carlson encountered Champley Monday when we thought we were joining a volunteer-friend for lunch. A few bites into our pasta salad, we realized that we were actually in the middle of a Champley interview. The enthusiastic Aussie asked the duo what they each did for Habitat. He was interested to learn of the organization’s quarterly magazine, Habitat World. (And Shala was, of course, happy to tell him how to get added to the subscription list!) She ran into Champley again and got a hug.

Alex McLeod
, once of “Trading Spaces,” was both building and co-hosting a party for Habitat this week. Her boyfriend’s company, Contessa Premium Foods, sponsored the foundations at San Pedro. The couple are great fans of Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, she said.

Also spotted on site were Karri Turner, of “JAG,” Philadelphia Soul football players Matt Bernstein and Mike Brown; Major League baseball players Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers and Jerry Owens of the Chicago White Sox.

World famous

Sometimes you run into the most interesting people on a rooftop. That happened to photographer Ezra Millstein when a team of folks from Kentucky was helping him hone his roofing skills. His build partner, it turned out, was from a world away: Miss World, Diana Hayden, originally from Hyderabad, India. She now lives in Los Angeles and hosts “Biography” on the History Channel. They chatted away because Millstein knew her hometown from travels in India. This was her fifth build, she said, and like Millstein she favors working the roof. Our photographer assumed she was the current reigning Miss, but he was building with Miss World 1997. “I feel so misled!” he said.

Also misled

Meanwhile somehow folks at the house got the impression that Millstein was a TV star, too – on “Grey’s Anatomy.” We’ve been looking at him carefully and trying to figure out whether he’s McDreamy or McSteamy.

The real celebrity

Homeowner-to-be Barbara Wallace knows what the “sweat” in sweat equity means because as a single mom she’s working those 500 required hours herself. Every Saturday, Sunday, a week of vacation earlier and now she’s on vacation to build this week. She’s been touched by the volunteers who are working on her house. “They’re nice people. They took my family and me out to dinner last night. I was grateful. They treat me like I’m a celebrity.”

That’s what’s famous about Habitat for Humanity.