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Crews begin building for first day of Carter Work Project

ST JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. -- 23 homes are beginning to take shape in Mishawaka. Crews began working at 8 this morning for the first day of the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project.  

Monday morning two thousand volunteers began the literal foundation to a better future for 23 local families while alongside former President and First Lady Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter.

As former President Carter addressed the media, he reiterated many times that he hopes this project shines a light on the importance of affordable housing. Not just here in Michiana, but all over the world.

“It’s a different kind of challenge, and a different kind of gratification, a different source of thanksgiving,” Jimmy Carter said as he explained what keeps him involved with Habitat for Humanity.

Benito Salazar is a future owner of a Carter Work Project home. He said participating in building his own home with two thousand volunteers was unlike anything else. “It’s a little surreal,” he said.

“Seeing our walls go up it’s amazing,” Salazar said.

Former President Carter said one of the more rewarding aspects of building homes is being able to emulate the teachings of his Christian faith.

“It’s a matter of pride, and it’s also a matter of getting intimate with the homeowners,” he said.

In the 35 years of being involved with Habitat for Humanity, the Carters have built or renovated 4,290 homes in 14 countries.

Today they made their mark on Michiana.

“I have wept many times when we get to closing ceremonies and we finished the house for a family that had never been in a decent home before,” Carter explained.

He said that the 2018 Carter Work site is the most prepared and organized project he has been to. “I’m already kind of emotional about this project as you can probably tell.”

The Salazar family is currently living with relatives as they home school a two and four year old.

 It just means a lot,”Jhunixa Salazar said referencing the volunteers helping build their home.

Rosalynn Carter admired the community that has been built with the future homeowners of the neighborhood. “One of the homeowners said that because everything was in one place… they had developed a small community,” she said she’s never seen friendship in the same way at another work project.

“It’s become security. We’ve been spending over a year meeting and talking to them… We’ve talked and know the struggles they’re having.” Benito  Salazar said about the friendships and connections he’s built with his future neighbors.

Most homeowners from the Carter Project will move in by December.

“We’re very grateful for the chance to come and work with habitat, and we hope to continue to do it for as long as we’re physically able,” Jimmy Carter said smiling.

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