Jimmy Carter Work Project 2007 Opens with Sights, Sounds of Los Angeles -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

Jimmy Carter Work Project 2007 Opens with Sights, Sounds of Los Angeles

President Jimmy Carter welcomes thousands of volunteers to the 24th annual weeklong build bearing his name.

For a few moments during the opening ceremonies of Habitat for Humanity’s Jimmy Carter Work Project 2007 on Sunday, Oct. 28, the volunteers, partner families, donors and supporters gathered at the Port of Los Angeles became the very building materials and tools they will wield in the construction week ahead.

Urged on by conductor Steve Sidwell and members of the Hollywood Film Chorale Special Effects Choir, the ceremony audience mimicked the sounds of the saws, hammers and cement mixers they will employ this week. Their construction chorus will swell throughout the coming days at JCWP construction sites in the communities of San Pedro and Harbor Gateway and dozens of A Brush With Kindness house-rehabilitation projects in the surrounding neighborhoods.

The special effects choir provided much of the soundtrack for the kickoff celebration, which officially opened the 24th annual JCWP. As the sun set in spectacular Southern California fashion, coral clouds streaking the darkening blue, a line of luminaries took to the stage to celebrate the beginning of a week of affordable-housing work and awareness-building.

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’s Paige Hemmis served as host, welcoming special guest speakers Habitat volunteer and Grammy Award-winning artist Ricky Martin, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Los Angeles Councilwoman Janice Hahn. Hahn announced that she and her city council peers had declared Monday, Oct. 29, Jimmy Carter Day in Los Angeles, and Villaraigosa proclaimed JCWP 2007 “a great demonstration that this really is the City of Angels.”

“This is a special week,” the mayor said, “because we get to do something not everybody gets to do. We get to reach out and lift up one family at a time.”

Members of the Hollywood Film Chorale Special Effects Choir perform.

Speaking of the positive effects of creating simple, decent, affordable housing and of the metro area’s immense need, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles’s Erin Rank told the assembled crowd, “You’re making generational change with generational impact on the lives of these families.”

Added Habitat for Humanity CEO Jonathan Reckford, “As we draw attention to these issues and create affordable housing opportunities together, I wish for each of you a rewarding, safe, uplifting and meaningful experience this week.”

The opening ceremony festivities ended as they began, with those gathered rising to their feet to honor the event’s most famous volunteers, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, former first lady Rosalynn.

“Habitat has meant a lot to me personally for the past 24 years,” Carter said, recalling projects from South Korea to last year’s event in Lonavala, India. “Those families that receive keys to their homes at the end of the week, we all weep together; we have been just as blessed. And you will see that at the end of this week.”