Former president’s legacy will include 35 years of volunteer work with Habitat for Humanity

Former president's legacy will include 35 years of volunteer work with Habitat for Humanity
Published: Feb. 22, 2023 at 5:38 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 22, 2023 at 10:27 PM CST
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - As former President Jimmy Carter spends his last days at home in hospice care, the impact he has made on the world through his years of volunteer work is undeniable.

Carter first volunteered with Habitat for Humanity in March of 1984 in Georgia. Since then, he established the Carter Work Project where he and his wife, Rosalynn Carter, have worked alongside 104,000 volunteers, in fourteen countries, to build, renovate and repair 4,390 homes.

“The fifteen years that I’ve been CEO of Smith County Habitat, every time I speak, his name always comes up. For one reason, it is a misconception that he started Habitat,” said Jack Wilson, CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Smith County. “He did not start Habitat. However, he did make it world famous.”

Wilson says this has helped all affiliates by bringing about an awareness of their mission and vision statement that everyone has a decent place to live.

He says the impact has been worldwide.

“To get more donations, to get more volunteers and to help build and renovate homes.”

Wilson has friends who have volunteered alongside Carter. They were impressed by him as an individual and how he mingled with volunteers.

“He would come in and sit down and have lunch with them,” said Wilson. “You would never know he was an ex-President or Jimmy Carter because he was such a regular person.”

Wilson believes Carter has the ‘Habitat soul’ inside him, because he chooses to make a difference in people’s lives and says that will be the legacy people remember him by.

At 95 years old, Carter kicked off a week of volunteer work in Nashville just hours after suffering facial injuries from a fall that required 14 stitches.

Carter said in a 2019 press conference that he always got more out of the builds than what he put into them.

“I don’t think we’ve ever left a site without tears in our eyes at least sometime during the week,” said Carter. “We weep with the homeowners when they weep for joy getting a Bible and getting a key to their house, and so it’s a wonderful thing for us and we’re really grateful for all the volunteers that have joined us.”

2020 was the final year that Carter was able to volunteer with Habitat, but his organization, the Carter Work Project, continues the humanitarian work he started more than 35 years ago.