President Jimmy Carter’s legacy shines through the success of Habitat for Humanity
ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - President Jimmy Carter built the bridge between South Georgia and the rest of the world. The CEO of Habitat for Humanity says he’s really what placed the organization on the map.
“In 1984, when President and Mrs. Carter came up with a bus load of volunteers from Plains, Georgia to New York City to sleep in a church basement and rehab a tenement building on the lower east side, that’s when the world found out about Habitat,” Habitat for Humanity CEO Jonathan Reckford said.
“At the end of the Habitat project, we always feel that Rose and I got more out of it than we put into it,” Jimmy Carter said.
Ralph Jackson was the executive director of the Valdosta-Lowndes Habitat for Humanity in 2003 when the Carters helped build 93 homes in Georgia and Alabama.
“I got to learn in the trenches a lot from Americus and proposed, ‘why don’t you do it in some small towns for a change,’” Jackson said. “And he went to Carter with it and Carter said yes which was amazing.”
John Meriweather is the owner of one of those homes Habitat for Humanity built. He says he’s dancing his way through his final mortgage payments.
“This is the bible that he gave me,” Meriweather said. ”He and Rose. Written right here on the side is his initial. This one I get out whenever I want to go directly to the scripture.”
Those values are imprinted on both Meriweather’s bible, and Carter’s nearly 40 years of diligent volunteer work.
“It’s been such an awakening for me. It’s very emotional. It’s a process that engages people. And everything that’s done, Mr. Carter and Rosalynn have their fingerprint on.”
Reckford says the Carters have worked alongside more than 104,000 volunteers to build, renovate and repair nearly 4,400 safe and affordable homes.
“He’s lived an extraordinary life and had in ways lived multiple lifetimes of impact,” Reckford said. “So, I think in many ways his message is spiritually, I’m fine and to the rest of us, get back to work. There’s a lot to do in our world to make it better.”
Part of his legacy is the momentum and movement of an organization that has only just begun.
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