The 35th Annual Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Works Project with Habitat for Humanity, wraps up today. Habitat officials say the impact the annual building blitz has on Habitat affiliates
Jim Williams is the president and CEO of the St. Joseph County Chapter of Habitat for Humanity.
“Just listen, to the sound of hammers,” Williams said, “Probably 300 hammers going at the same time. You know, ‘that’s the sound of love,’ we say at Habitat and it is something. If you’re still for a moment and just listen to the hammers, you never forget it.”
He says his go to joke these days is that because of the Carter Works Project, he’s going to need to build a hundred houses next year to keep new Habitat volunteers happy.
“We’ve got so many new people that didn’t even know about Habitat in our community, that didn’t know how it worked,” he said, “That didn’t know how inspiring it was to be a part of it.”
Williams says the Carter Works Project has also helped St. Joe County Habitat acquire seven more acres just south of the current build site. He says about 40 more homes can be built on the newly acquired property. But he says neighborhoods born from Habitat builds, like the one on Byrkit Road in Mishawaka aren’t just created for families working with Habitat.
“We’re going to sell many of these lots to for profit developers, so it truly is a diverse community,” Williams said, “People are excited about that, they get that, that’s important that it’s not just Habitat families and so we’re looking to see how that develops over the years.”
Williams says homes will not be ready for move-in until the end of the year, but the progress made has been impressive.
Cleora Taylor from South Bend will be moving into this neighborhood. She says her home was basically pieces on the ground before the build week. Now, she says it definitely looks like a house. Taylor says a lot of the week felt surreal for her with celebrities walking around.
She also got to work alongside Former President Jimmy Carter and Former First Lady Rosalynn.
Taylor says overall she’s grateful to all those involved for the experience and their help on such a major milestone; owning a home.
“They did not have to take time out of their busy schedule to come out and support the movement, the families, everytime they do something, ‘How do you want your siding? This is your house, you better tells us if you see us doing something that’s not right!’,”Taylor said,” It’s just amazing to see the energy, the great energy, they love what they’re doing. So hey, I couldn’t ask for anything better than this.”
Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat International says the teamwork among Habitat affiliates in Indiana and Chicagoland was refreshing.
“It really is special to see not just the community rally but to some sense, the state rallied, and it has been impressive,” he said, “Indiana is a strong Habitat state, but you’ve got relatively small markets.”
Reckford says a single quote by screenwriter and long time Habitat volunteer Randy Wallace summarizes the mission of Habitat for Humanity.
"Habitat for Humanity is a perpetual motion miracle: everyone who receives, gives-and everyone who gives, receives,” Reckford said, “If you want to live complacent and uninspired, stay away from Habitat; come close to Habitat and it will change you, and make you part of something at changes the world."
The Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Works Project officially ends today with a ceremony in South Bend.