The Push is On: 2,000 Habitat Volunteers Needed for Carter Work Project This Fall

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Mike Rico of Americorps and Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley readies a volunteer project.

Former President Jimmy Carter could use some help on an important “To Do” list of community work projects in Oakland and San Jose this October, which is why the Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley staff is busy at the moment rounding up approximately 2,000 volunteers.

Carter, who will turn 89 on Oct. 1, and his wife Rosalynn, 85, are coming to Oakland on Sunday, Oct. 6, to kickoff Habitat’s Carter Work Project (CWP),an annual major service and fundraising event now in its 30th year. This is the first time a CWP has come to the San Francisco Bay Area.

After an opening ceremony in Oakland on Sunday, the Carters will work with volunteers on Monday at the nonprofit’s Brookfield Court Development in Oakland, and on Tuesday in the Dorsa-TOCKNA neighborhood of San Jose. They will then fly to projects in Denver, and finally New York City, where the first CWP took place in 1984. Work will continue on projects in the Bay Area through Friday, Oct. 11.

The Push for Volunteers is On

The East Bay/Silicon Valley affiliate has enjoyed a long string of successes on building projects, neighborhood revitalization events, and home repairs, throughout the Bay Area since 1986, but the CWP presents a whole other level of volunteer and community involvement. A “big push” starts this week to spread the word about the need for volunteers.

“We’re hoping we’ll have a nice wave (of signups). It’s so hard to predict because its so different from anything we’ve ever done,” said Marketing and Communications Manager Erin Spaulding last week at the affiliate’s Milpitas office.

Fundraising and Sponsorship

president-jimmy-carter-rosalyn-carter-work-project-habitat-for-humanity-east-bay-silicon-valley-volunteer-fundraising-good-neighbor-storiesIn addition to being major community service events, CWPs also serve as fundraisers for Habitat. Volunteers are required to raise a certain amount of funds to participate, and an emphasis is placed on attracting corporate sponsors. The Carters will also be guests of honor at a fundraising dinner in a local private home during their visit.

There are different levels of participation, from raising $500 to work with the support staff during the week, to $1,000 for one day while the Carters are here, to $2,000 for the entire week. Corporations can participate at various levels, and will receive not only public recognition, but opportunities to be included in events with the Carters, as well as spots for teams of employees to serve during the week.

Spaulding said money raised by volunteers and donated by companies here in the Bay Area will “go right back into our building efforts” in the region.

Volunteer Now

Having the Carters here, even for only a couple of days, is expected to make volunteering for the event popular. The group’s website suggests people signup earlier to insure securing a spot. Spaulding said committing earlier will also aid volunteers with fundraising.

“I would encourage people who are interested in this to sign up and start thinking of ways to fundraise for that participation,” she said. “I think there are creative ways to fundraise for this, and we’re here to help.”

Participants will have online fundraising pages, much like charity walk-a-thons, where they can track their progress, and friends can donate.

Online signups are available now; a commitment to raising funds is due by July 1. People are allowed to opt out if they believe they cannot raise the entire amount.

Most of the work that week will revolve around community revitalization and home repairs, Spaulding said. Staff members are currently meeting with neighborhood groups and other nonprofits to work in collaboration with each other in developing potential volunteer projects.

“We’re not trying to start something brand new, we’re just assisting what’s already there,” she said.

To volunteer or sponsor, see the Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley website now.