2010 Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project: Gala -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1
2010 Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project: Gala
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter joins the Blind Boys of Alabama on stage as they perform their last song during the gala celebration honoring the Carters. (c) Habitat for Humanity/Steffan Hacker
Event program (.pdf)
This tribute was possible because of the generosity and commitment of the sponsors below and countless volunteers and supporters who believe in Habitat’s mission of ending poverty housing and building a world of hope.
The Dow Chemical Company
The Home Depot Foundation
American Bankers Association
The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation
The Coca-Cola Company
Duke Energy Corporation
Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas
Hunter Douglas, Inc.
James E. and M.A. Rogers
John and Nina Toups
Rheem Sales Company
Stanley Black & Decker
Jim Copeland and Debbie McFarland
National Association of REALTORS
J.C. Penney Company, Inc.
Latham & Watkins LLP
Mortgage Bankers Association
Nissan North America
The Honorable Bonnie McElveen-Hunter
DLA Piper LLP
Shaw Industries, Inc.
J. Ronald Terwilliger
Reginald Van Lee
Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco
Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta
Thrivent Financial for Lutherans
Edington, Peel & Associates
Karen Clark & Company
Honor the Carters and clap your hands
By Susan Stevenson
If you really want to say something about the need for affordable housing on World Habitat Day, get two Jimmy Carters onstage to sing “If I Had a Hammer” in front of a crowd of well-dressed fans.
The first Jimmy Carter, the former president, joined the legendary blues-rock band Blind Boys of Alabama, whose lead singer is also named Jimmy Carter, for a rousing rendition of the Pete Seeger and Lee Hays classic at a Washington, D.C., gala honoring President Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, for 27 years of service to Habitat for Humanity.
The singer Carter, in his 70s, and the statesman Carter, who just turned 86, got the crowd off their seats for justice, freedom and “love between my brothers and my sisters all over this land.” It was five minutes of history hobnobbing with history.
A crowd of about 500 had weathered a rainy Washington evening to honor the former president and first lady at the World Habitat Day gala Monday evening that also marked the first day of the 27th Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project.
Earlier, Mr. and Mrs. Carter had been on a build site in Washington, D.C., to build, pose for photographs with volunteers and homeowners, and attend the lunch that officially launched Habitat for Humanity’s Shelter Report 2011—Housing and Health: Partners Against Poverty.
The event—called “Thanks a Million! A gala salute to the life and service of our most famous volunteers Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter”—gave Carter supporters and Habitat for Humanity International a chance to express their special regard for the Carters’ years of inspiring others to work for affordable housing through their annual Carter Work Project. The Blind Boys of Alabama highlighted the evening at the Andrew Mellon Auditorium on Constitution Avenue, across from the National Mall.
Tom Brokaw narrated a special video salute titled “The Carters: Simple, Decent Volunteers,” which told the story of the Carters’ work with Habitat around the world. Touched by the story, the crowd gave the Carters a sustained ovation.
President Carter responded that such tributes “are embarrassing to me, because it’s all the volunteers who really do this,” but that Habitat was a “transforming thing” and “every year we get more out of it than we put into it.”
What he had learned from the project that he wanted everyone to understand was “respect for the homeowners.”
You might go by a slum or a dilapidated house and think the people who live there are not like you or your family or friends or grandchildren, he said. But “they are the hardest-working people on the project.” And on the last day of every Carter Work Project, when homeowners get the keys to their new houses, “we all weep,” Carter said.
Carter wanted everyone to know that Habitat homeowners are “just as intelligent, just as hard-working, just as ambitious as you are, and their family values are just as good.”
Among the speakers was Shaun Donovan, secretary of Housing and Urban Development for the Obama administration, who lauded both Carter and Habitat for Humanity. He cited the place-based focus on housing during the Carter presidency, saying, “It is the model he developed that we are scaling up today.”
Donovan also stated that the revitalization of South Bronx in New York City, starting in the late 1970s, was made possible not simply by private developers or government investment, but by a “third sector” of philanthropies, nonprofits and community development corporations that leveraged dollars and became innovative housing developers and important civic institutions.
That third sector, Donovan said, was key to rebuilding neighborhoods after the recession and housing crisis.
“There is no better example of what the third sector can achieve than Habitat for Humanity,” he said, applauding Habitat’s “shifting strategy from building houses from scratch to fixing them up” in order to reclaim neighborhoods.
Christopher W. Williams, of the United Nations Human Settlement program of UN-HABITAT, credited Carter’s support with helping to launch UN-HABITAT and helping to expand the grassroots approach of Habitat for Humanity.
“Thank you, Mr. President, for supporting the two Habitats,” he said.
Speakers also included Dr. Esther Brimmer, an assistant secretary of state, and Jonathan Reckford, chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity International. Linda Fuller, co-founder of Habitat for Humanity with her late husband, Millard Fuller, was at the event honoring the Carters and was greeted with a standing ovation as well.
Country music superstars Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks, who have built with the Carters during several projects, sent a special thank-you video to the Carters and event sponsors. The Home Depot Foundation, Dow and Lowe’s were sponsors, as well as many other companies.
The gala raised $1 million toward launching a Habitat fund recognizing the Carters’ commitment. The fund will allow special projects in their honor.
This year, the Carter project is a World Habitat Day event and takes place in six U.S. cities: Washington, D.C.; Baltimore and Annapolis, Maryland; Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota; and Birmingham, Alabama. World Habitat Day is the first Monday in October—a day set aside by the United Nations to call attention to the need for affordable housing worldwide. Habitat for Humanity affiliates throughout the world planned more than 300 events to call attention to the day this year.
Susan Stevenson is director of Program Communications for Habitat for Humanity International.