Carter Work Project Day 5: Getting Busy Building Community

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habitat-for-humanity-carter-work-project-volunteersIf I had to boil my five days of volunteering for Habitat for Humanity’s 2013 Carter Work Project (CWP) in San Jose, it would come to this: good people can make a difference in their communities, even in the face of overwhelming problems.

All week long I couldn’t help contrasting what was happening at the national level with what was happening right in my own backyard of Silicon Valley with CWP. The government was shut down, seemingly mired in an impossible conflict, yet all of us working on CWP were getting something truly good done in our communities. Groups like Habitat are tackling huge issues like affordable housing, and make a real impact. Of course Habitat couldn’t do what it does without partnering with municipalities and governmental agencies, but it’s not chained to a political process that sometimes leaves the most vulnerable in the dust.

Thanks to hundreds of volunteers, nearly 30 families in Oakland and San Jose were helped in very valuable ways. Work on a dozen new homes in Oakland progressed, renovation work on two homes in San Jose came closer to completion, and about 15 homes got things like new roofs, energy-efficient windows, new insulation, siding, and numerous repairs both small and large.  [Read more…]

Carter Work Project Day 3: ‘The Volunteers are Very Cool’

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Overfelt High School’s Habitat for Humanity Club.

I lived to see Day 3 of the Habitat for Humanity Carter Work Project (CWP) in San Jose, something I wasn’t too sure about at the end of Day 2, when President Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter came to work. After getting up at 4:30 a.m. and working a full day on Tuesday, I had my doubts, especially when I felt a little tickle in my throat that evening.

To make it to a new day of volunteering, I loaded up on Vitamin C and let myself sleep in, knowing that the registration table was in good hands with the other volunteers I worked with on Monday and Tuesday, and that the number of volunteers checking in would drop back down to Monday’s levels. Thankfully the extra sleep worked; I had the energy to continue my social media volunteer duties all day Wednesday.

On Tuesday my focus was on capturing photos of the executives and employees of the numerous companies that donated to the CWP. Wednesday I spent time with an awesome group of Overfelt High School students who founded a Habitat for Humanity Club at their school. I also interviewed a group of experienced Habitat construction employees who came up as a group from Los Angeles. [Read more…]

Carter Work Project Day 2: ‘Habitat a Gift to All of Us’

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president-jimmy-carter-rosalynn-habitat-for-humanity-carter-work-project-san-jose-by-pam-marino-good-neighbor-storiesTuesday was Day 2 of Habitat for Humanity’s Carter Work Project (CWP) in San Jose, or rather, The Big Day, since President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn came to work side by side with a partner family and hundreds of volunteers.

The morning started early and in the dark at 6 a.m. for those of us serving as registration volunteers. We fumbled in the dark, using a couple of flashlights and our cell phones to read off names as volunteers showed up. Approximately 275 volunteers checked in over the next couple of hours.

Sometime after 8 a.m. the stars of the event, President and Mrs. Carter, arrived by a small motorcade, and more than 300 people, including volunteers and donors who attended an earlier breakfast, burst into applause as they walked from the parking lot to the outdoor pavilion in Lake Cunningham Park. Moments later the crowd stood up and cheered for President Carter as he took to the stage to speak, prompting him to quip, “Sit down, save your strength, you’re going to need it for later in the day!” [Read more…]

Carter Work Project Day 1: ‘A Culture of Kindness’

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carter-work-project-habitat-for-humanity-east-bay-silicon-valley-jimmy-carter-rosalynn-carter-volunteers-kindnessI spent the day with dozens of volunteers today in San Jose for Day 1 of Habitat for Humanity’s Carter Work Project. One of the best lines of the day was from a long-time volunteer who told me she volunteers because of Habitat’s “culture of kindness.”

Best moment of the day: when a member of one of the partner families—someone who thought she’d never be able to purchase a home in her lifetime—was in tears when I asked her what being able to purchase a Habitat home means to her. She could barely speak.

My day as a volunteer started at 6:30 a.m. at Lake Cunningham Park in East San Jose to help at the registration tables, before heading off to work sites to interview people and take photos as a Social Media Volunteer. Of the volunteers I met today, most were from around the Bay Area, but some were from as far away as Los Angeles.

Tomorrow’s day starts at 6 a.m., to greet the hundreds of volunteers showing up to work with President Jimmy Carter, his wife Rosalynn, and country music stars and husband and wife Garth Brooks and Tricia Yearwood. The couples worked in Oakland today.

Here are some other highlights from the day: [Read more…]

Habitat’s Carter Work Project in Bay Area Begins!

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president-jimmy-carter-rosalyn-carter-work-project-habitat-for-humanity-east-bay-silicon-valleyThis morning marks the beginning of the 30th anniversary Carter Work Project (CWP), Habitat for Humanity’s annual large-scale volunteer event, and I am ready for the roller coaster ride about to launch here in the San Francisco Bay Area.

I volunteered to be a “Social Media Volunteer” in San Jose for the week-long service event. Mostly I’ll be doing what I always do as a journalist, interviewing people, taking photos, and writing stories, only on the fly around San Jose. I’ll also be sending bits of content to the people in charge of Habitat’s media for tweets and other social media posts throughout each day.

I’ve wanted to be a volunteer for the CWP for more than 20 years, but family, work, finances, and distance have all been a factor in not signing up. The special service and fundraising event is held in a different location every year, in the U.S. and abroad. When I heard this past spring that the CWP was coming to the Bay Area, I jumped at the chance to help. [Read more…]

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. [Read more…]

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Coming to Bay Area for Habitat Project

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president-jimmy-carter-rosalynn-carter-work-project-habitat-for-humanity-east-bay-silicon-valleyPresident Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn are coming to the San Francisco Bay Area for two days in October as part of the 30th anniversary Carter Work Project (CWP) service event for Habitat for Humanity. It is the first time the annual project is happening in the region.

This year’s CWP runs from Sunday, Oct. 6, to Friday, Oct. 11, with building activities, community projects, and special events taking place in San Jose, Oakland, Denver, and New York. The Carters will start in the Bay Area on Sunday, and leave on Tuesday, Oct. 8, traveling east until they reach New York, the site of the first CWP in 1984. [Read more…]