Turning the page from Birmingham to Haiti -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

Turning the page from Birmingham to Haiti


Former President Jimmy Carter, accompanied by his wife, Rosalynn, and Habitat for Humanity International CEO Jonathan Reckford, talks with AmeriCorps members on the build site in Birmingham. © Habitat for Humanity International/Ezra Millstein


Carter challenged the volunteers and homeowners in Birmingham to join the Carter Work Project again next year in Haiti. © Habitat for Humanity International/Ezra Millstein

By Phillip Jordan

In the early morning sunlight Friday, Ted Harville stood in his family’s new backyard, talking about family, faith and the future with Jimmy Carter.

“I just turned 49,” Harville told the former president. “If you were 49 years old right now, what would you do here?” Carter placed a hand on Harville’s shoulder and said, “Well, I can tell you that I’d take care of my wife, I’d keep going to church, and I’d stay involved with Habitat.”

“I can do that,” Harville replied.

By day’s end, the Harvilles were among 28 partner families who had received a blessing and a Bible from the Carters, as the 27th Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project concluded in Birmingham, Alabama. But for the Carters—and for Habitat—the journey continues.

After dedicating the Wylam Oaks neighborhood Friday afternoon—where volunteers had just finished the last six homes in a new 37-house community—Habitat for Humanity International board chairman Ken Klein announced the location of the next two Carter Work Projects.

Destination 2011 and 2012: Haiti.

“We think it’s very, very fitting that next year we do the Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project in Haiti,” Klein said, eliciting a cheer from the crowd. “And this is rare, but to show how committed we are to this, the 2012 Carter project will return to Haiti as well.”

Carter has traveled to Haiti eight times in his life, including trips to monitor elections and to promote public health initiatives with The Carter Center, and on a peacekeeping mission in 1994. “I think Habitat has a chance to have one of its most exciting adventures—and most successful adventures—with this very needed project in Haiti,” he said.

After Habitat Greater Birmingham’s CEO Charles Moore passed a pair of ceremonial trowels over to Claude Jeudy, Habitat Haiti’s national director, Carter moved to the microphone for a final challenge: “And we hope to see many of you in Haiti next year,” Carter said.

For now, there is still time to celebrate what was accomplished in Birmingham and around the United States this week.

Phillip Jordan is a writer/editor for Habitat for Humanity International