1993: A close encounter in Canada

My first and most memorable experience working with President Carter was in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in 1993.

As a house leader, my focus was on the house I was responsible for, and one day during the lunch presentations, I quietly slipped out of the tent to return to it. As I walked, I was joined by another volunteer who asked me how my house was coming along. To my surprise, it was President Carter.

He said how impressed he was with how well the project was organized and how so many Canadians are committed to the work of Habitat. It did not take long for the Secret Service to place themselves between President Carter and myself, but he didn’t miss a beat, and we carried on chatting about things like Canada’s strict building codes and something close to his heart: fishing in Northern Manitoba.

When we reached the house President Carter was working on, I quickly realized his focus was now 100 percent on the task at hand, and I continued to my house with a real sense of honor to have had that opportunity.

In 2000, I had the privilege of participating toward the end of the Carter Work Project in Plains, Georgia. Since I had arrived late, I did not receive the volunteer package that included orientation materials, a souvenir cap, T-shirt, etc., but it wasn’t long before one of the volunteer coordinators found me and offered me one. I learned later that Mrs. Carter had heard about a volunteer from Canada who had arrived late, and she wanted me to have her package. I was unfortunately not able to personally thank her, but this is just another example of how generous and considerate the Carters are.

I look forward to future opportunities to work alongside President Carter and his life partner, Rosalynn, and I am certain their legacy will be a key part of this valuable ministry for generations into the future!

— Terry Petkau, Habitat Canada building services director

ALSO IN 1993: More than 1,100 volunteers joined President and Mrs. Carter for this first Carter Work Project totally outside of the United States. The week saw the construction of 18 houses in Winnipeg and 10 houses in Waterloo.