Former President of the United States Jimmy Carter recently entered hospice care at age 98, and his impact as a politician but also as a humanitarian came into sharp focus.
Carter left office four decades ago, and among all his political achievements and defeats, his legacy is defined by his work to further peace, expand equality and improve the qualities of life for people around the world. He and wife Rosalynn's work with Habitat for Humanity International became a leading example.
These high-profile projects involve the "blitz building" of numerous Habitat homes in the course of one week of construction in designated communities around the world. And Roofing Contractor Editor Emeritus Rick Damato was often on a ladder or scaffolding close to the action as a repeat volunteer.
Damato's coverage of the annual event for RC dates back to 2003, and consistent themes of Carter's humble generosity and commitment to persevere shine through. That year, Damato reflected on one instance when the former president called specifically on roofers to make a difference.
"One of the best examples of partnership occurred in 1989 when the JCWP was held in Milwaukee," Damato wrote. "The weather was abysmal, and constant rain in the early part of the build threatened to ruin the entire event. The biggest problem was that the roofs were too steep — and at times too damp - for unskilled volunteers to safely negotiate. President Carter went on the radio and called on the professional roofing community to step in and help out. The next day the work site was virtually overrun with professional roofers."
That was part of the former farmer's get-it-done mentality.
"As we reflect on President Carter's legacy, we're reminded of the impact he made on our organization's efforts to ensure that families everywhere live in quality, affordable homes," said Alan Ferguson, Sr., president and CEO of the Atlanta Habitat for Humanity, in a written statement. "He is a true servant leader whose tireless contributions to better the lives of people in our country and around the world will always be remembered with gratitude."
Check out RC's prior coverage and photos from the Carter Work Project with Habitat for Humanity over the years.