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As President of the United States, Jimmy Carter was deeply committed to social justice and basic human rights. He and his wife Rosalynn left the White House in search of meaningful ways to contribute in these areas. In addition to promoting peace and human rights through the nonprofit Carter Center in Atlanta.

They lead the Jimmy Carter Work Project (JCWP) for Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI) one week each year.Jimmy Carter's involvement with Habitat for Humanity International began in 1984 when the former president led a work group to New York City to help renovate a six-story building with 19 families in need of decent, affordable shelter.

That experience planted the seed, and the Jimmy Carter Work Project has been an internationally recognized event of HFHI ever since.

Each year, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter give a week of their time -- along with their building skills -- to build homes and raise awareness of the critical need for affordable housing. The JCWP is held at a different location each year, and attracts volunteers from around the world. The 2000 JCWP built 157 houses in New York City; Jacksonville, Fla.; and the Carters' home of Sumter County, Ga.

Other recent JCWP builds have taken place in the Philippines (1999--293 houses), Houston, Texas (1998--100 houses) and Kentucky/Tennessee (1997). "We have become small players in an exciting global effort to alleviate the curse of homelessness, " Carter said. "With our many new friends, we have worked to raise funds, to publicize the good work of Habitat, to recruit other volunteers, to visit overseas projects and even build a few houses."

Since leaving office, Carter has gained a reputation as a tireless champion for social justice. "Habitat has successfully removed the stigma of charity by substituting it with a sense of partnership. " Carter said. "The people who will live in the homes work side-by-side with the volunteers, so they feel very much that they are on an equal level." Worldwide View Shared by Carter and Habitat Habitat for Humanity International is a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry dedicated to eliminating substandard housing and making decent shelter a matter of conscience and action. Habitat has built more than 100,000 houses worldwide.

Volunteers work with future homeowners to build or renovate houses, which are then sold to partner families at no profit, with no interest charged on the 15-20 year mortgage. The money from the sale of each house goes into a revolving Fund for Humanity, to support future building projects.

"Habitat has opened up unprecedented opportunities for me to cross the chasm that separates those of us who are free, safe, financially secure, well fed and housed, and influential enough to shape our own destiny from our neighbors who enjoy few, if any, of these advantages of life, " Carter said.

While the former president is a noted carpenter (the White House staff gave him tools for his workshop when he left the presidency), Rosalynn has also gained building experience with Habitat. The former first lady describes her work on a Habitat project in Everything to Gain, a book that was co-written by the Carters: "I didn't think I could use a hammer and I didn't want to use a hammer. At first it took me fifteen or twenty strokes for each nail, but before the week was over I could drive one in with only four or five strokes!"

Please click on the seal, and we'll learn some more about this Southern gentleman.