Carter Work Project 2014

On Oct. 1, 2014, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter celebrated his 90th birthday. Four days later, he put on his familiar work clothes — blue jeans, denim shirt, probably a red bandana — and got to work building yet another affordable home as part of Habitat for Humanity International’s Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project.

Thirty years ago, the Carters traveled by bus from their hometown of Plains, Georgia, to New York City to help renovate an apartment building with Habitat. The sight of such powerful people humbly doing hard, sweaty labor alongside people they previously did not know struck a chord and generated much media coverage. Crowds gathered outside that apartment building and chanted, “Go, Jimmy, go!”

Since 1984, the Carters have dedicated one week each year to building with Habitat — in the rain in Milwaukee, in a field in Haiti, in inner-city Los Angeles and Philadelphia, along the hurricane-ravaged U.S. Gulf Coast, in South Africa, in Thailand and many points in between. The Carters and their legions of fellow volunteers have built, repaired and rehabilitated 3,883 homes and engaged more than 88,000 volunteers.

In 2014, the Carter Work Project headed to Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas. From Oct. 5 to 11, the former first couple and hundreds of volunteers joined families to help build 30 homes and renovate 20 others in the East Oak Cliff neighborhood of Dallas, build 20 homes in Fort Worth’s Central Meadowbrook neighborhood, and paint an additional 44 in partnership with the City of Fort Worth’s “Cowtown Brush Up” program.

“The dedication and the hard work and the ambition of homeowner families is always inspirational to us,” President Carter once said. “They work harder than anybody on the site.”

Rosalynn Carter often has echoed her husband’s sentiment that they get more out of the annual building experience than they give.

“It’s never a sacrifice,” Mrs. Carter has said. “It’s always a blessing. It just does something to your soul…to be able to help people who really need help.”