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President Jimmy Carter, First Lady welcome Habitat for Humanity volunteers

SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalyn thanked hundreds of Habitat for Humanity volunteers on Sunday.

President Carter said he and his wife have gotten more out of their Habitat for Humanity experiences over the past 35 years.;

“At the end of the Habitat project, we always feel that, Rose and I got more out of it than we put into it,” President Carter said.

At the opening ceremony for the 35thJimmy and Rosalyn Carter Work Project volunteers, donors, and supporters listened to the former President and First Lady speak and got a surprise message from former late night talk show host and HFH volunteer David Letterman. They also heard from a family who’s expecting keys to their first home once the project is finished.

“We have been able to connect, make friendships, and gain a sense of security knowing each other before we move into a community together,” said Benito Salazar, a future Habitat homeowner.

There are 41 homes within South Bend and Mishawaka that will be renovated, built, or repaired from August 26 to August 31. Jonathan Reckford, HFH CEO, said each home is a foundation for a better life for the 22 families affected and also a wake up call for St. Joseph County.

“It’s really shining a spotlight all week long on the need all across the country and the world for affordable housing,” said Reckford.

Salazar said his home will provide him not only affordability, but community.

“To all my future homeowners, let me share with you something that Junie and I would like to wish unto your family as well as ours,” he said. “May your new keys to your home lead to success to every individual in your family.”

Reckford said St. Joseph County was chosen to be a part of the President and First Lady’s work project partly as a tribute to Leroy Troyer, a long-time volunteer and St. Joseph County native. He said Troyer has participated in 33 out of 35 of the President’s work project.

“The best volunteer that we’ve ever had has been helping us as you heard several times 33 years,” said President Carter. “That’s Leroy, Leroy Troyer and he’s been a true inspiration to us.”

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