Former US President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, joined dozens of other volunteers Monday morning to finish framing a house in the 3300 block of Daniel Street in New Orleans, fulfilling Habitat for Humanity's goal to build 1,000 homes on the storm-ravaged Gulf Coast by the middle of this year.
Having reached the 1,000-house goal, Jonathan Reckford, Habitat's CEO, said the nonprofit organization plans to continue its feverish pace of building as many homes in the region each month, as it built annually before Katrina. In fact, work on its 1,001st house has already begun on a lot next door to the 1,000th house.
"We could have built these houses anywhere along the Gulf Coast, but we wanted to build them here to send a message to the country and the world that there's lots of work to do," Reckford said. "Just look around you."
President and Mrs. Carter also unveiled a new name for the weeklong Habitat building blitz to be held in May 2008, in the Gulf Coast. The weeklong housebuilding event, will henceforth be known as the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project. It had been known as the Jimmy Carter Work Project. Every year since 1984, the Carters have dedicated a week to building with Habitat for Humanity.
“He might have put in an hour or two more than I have,” said Mrs. Carter. “After 24 years, I’ve become a fairly accomplished carpenter.”
The Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project hopes to bring in thousands of volunteers for the weeklong house blitz in May 08."We hope to inundate this area with volunteers from across the country," said Jimmy Carter. "I've helped build houses all over the world, but the most challenging and gratifying Habitat project that I've ever been involved with is this one."
Jim Pate, Executive Director of New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity , acknowledged Gulf Coast Habitat affiliates “from Mobile to Biloxi and from Covington to New Orleans and Beaumont to Houston” who joined in the wall-raising in recognition of their contribution to reaching to the goal of 1,000 houses before the deadline of June 2007.
“Gulf Coast recovery is a marathon, not a sprint. We’re committing today to the next 1,000 houses to rebuild the Gulf,” said Pate.
House No. 1,000 is earmarked for Crystal Duplessis, 22, a nursing student whose house on Caluda Drive in Violet was destroyed during Katrina.