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Rosalynn Carter and CNN Anchor Break Ground on HFH Mental Health Partnership House

Rosalynn Carter and CNN Anchor Break Ground on Habitat for Humanity Mental Health Partnership House

AMERICUS, Ga., Nov. 6, 2002 – Former First Lady and Vice Chair of The Carter Center Rosalynn Carter will make remarks at a ceremonial groundbreaking for DeKalb County Habitat for Humanity’s “A Partnership to Open Doors” house in Atlanta on Thursday, Nov. 7 at 4:30 p.m. (EST). Daryn Kagan, anchor of “CNN Live Today,” will serve as host for the groundbreaking.

The partnership with Habitat for Humanity (HFH), the National Mental Health Association (NMHA) and the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) promotes greater public understanding of the needs of people living with mental illness and the role that stable housing plays in recovery. Two other “A Partnership To Open Doors” houses were built in Fort Worth, Texas in November 2001 and in Indianapolis in July 2002.

“For many years, I have worked to help improve the quality of life for people with mental illnesses. And for many years, Jimmy and I have been building homes with Habitat for Humanity. Now these two causes are coming together in an exciting new partnership,” said Carter, who serves as chair of The Carter Center Mental Health Task Force and is the honorary chair of the “A Partnership To Open Doors” steering council. “Because of Habitat for Humanity’s great success in building thousands of homes with low-income families, we believe that, while increasing opportunities for homeownership, we can decrease the stigma associated with mental illnesses.”

Other guests participating in the ceremonial groundbreaking include Bishop Neal Alexander, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta; Rev. Mark Baker, Holy Comforter Episcopal Church; faith-based private and corporate supporters; and representatives from NMHA, NAMI and HFH.

“The vision for this partnership is to provide affordable homeownership for families impacted by mental illness, one house at a time,” said Linda Fuller, co-founder of Habitat for Humanity International. “Proudly, we are building homes, building hope and busting stigma.”

Fuller was presented with the Award of National Recognition at the Alternatives 2002 Conference in September for her efforts in providing affordable housing for people living with mental illness.

Jerome Lawrence of DeKalb County, Ga., will work alongside volunteers putting in “sweat equity” hours rather than putting up equity for a down payment on his no-profit, no-interest home, which he is scheduled to move into in January 2003. Lawrence, who is in recovery from mental illness, received a bachelor’s degree from Georgia State University and now works professionally as an artist and an art instructor. He is looking forward to using one of the rooms in his new house as an art studio.

Partners of the DeKalb County, Ga., “A Partnership To Open Doors” house include Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network; Holy Comforter Episcopal Church; National Mental Health Association of Georgia; National Alliance for the Mentally Ill - Georgia; Georgia Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Addictive Diseases; DeKalb Community Service Board and The Carter Center Mental Health Program.

Another “A Partnership To Open Doors” house is under construction in Atlanta. The house is sponsored by Peachtree Presbyterian Church, and additional funding of $15,000 is needed to complete the house. The house is being built for Patricia Shirley, who is in recovery from mental illness, and her family. Construction on the house began on October 19 and a house dedication is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 7 at 4 p.m. Linda and Millard Fuller, founders of Habitat for Humanity International, plan to attend.

For more information about Habitat for Humanity International or “A Partnership To Open Doors,” log on to

The National Mental Health Association (NMHA) is the country’s oldest and largest nonprofit organization addressing all aspects of mental health and mental disabilities. With more than 340 affiliates nationwide, NMHA works to improve the mental health of all Americans through advocacy, education, research and service.

Founded in 1979, the National Alliance of the Mentally Ill (NAMI) is the nation’s largest grassroots organization dedicated solely to improving the lives of people affected by severe mental illnesses. NAMI engages in support, education, research and advocacy at the local, state and national levels. It represents a tradition of self-help while working for increased funding for scientific research, evidence-based standards, equitable insurance practices, and greater access to treatment, employment and housing opportunities.

Habitat for Humanity International is an ecumenical Christian ministry dedicated to eliminating poverty housing. Founded by Millard Fuller, along with his wife, Linda, Habitat for Humanity International and its affiliates in more than 3,000 communities in 83 nations have built and sold more than 125,000 homes to partner families with no-profit, zero-interest mortgages.

Millard Fuller says, “This number sounds impressive enough. However, the fact remains that at least two billion people in the world are in need of a decent place to call home.”