Rosalynn Carter’s lifetime of service and inspiration  

It’s been decades since former first lady Rosalynn Carter was in the national spotlight, but it was after she left the White House, as a private citizen, when her light shined brightest. With her passing on Nov. 19, we pause to honor her humanitarian spirit, and the inspiring work she pursued to improve the lives of people around the globe. 

Habitat for Humanity will forever be indebted to Mrs. Carter and her husband, former President Jimmy Carter, for transforming a local organization into a global movement to build and repair affordable homes for people who need them. First volunteering in 1984, the Carters began what would become the Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project, which conducts week-long immersive home-building events around the world. 

During their nearly four decades of involvement with Habitat, the Carters worked alongside more than 106,000 volunteers in 14 countries to build, renovate and repair more than 4,400 homes. She never asked of anyone what she wasn’t willing to do herself, and like countless Habitat volunteers today, experienced service and kindness as its own reward. “It has made me a better person,” she once said. 
Mrs. Carter used her platform to become an ardent supporter of not just affordable homes, but also a champion of mental health awareness and caregiving, food security, human rights, and conflict resolution.  

“First lady Rosalynn Carter was an extraordinary person and role model for all of us. I had the honor of meeting her and hearing her speak at numerous Habitat events and was always touched by her kindness, challenged by her words and impressed by her hard work and dedication. As we pay tribute to her well-lived life, let’s be mindful of some of the lessons she lived by, including a dedication to service, a champion for mental health and caregivers, and as an activist for peace.” 

Steve Messinetti, president and CEO of Habitat Portland Region.

Mrs. Carter established the Carter Center’s Mental Health Program to combat discrimination against people with mental illnesses and promote improved mental health care worldwide. She later founded the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers at Georgia Southwestern State University, which today serves all family caregivers, more than 40 million people in the United States. 

“What are our obligations? What are our opportunities? Are we in a position to do some things that others are not able to do?” These were the questions the couple asked themselves after they left the White House in 1981, Mrs. Carter wrote in her autobiography. In her lifetime of service, Mrs. Carter has left an extraordinary legacy that will continue to inspire others to ask those same questions and change the world one answer at a time. 

As Habitat for Humanity remembers Rosalynn Carter and honors a life of grace, compassion and service, we invite you to join us.  Please sign our memory book and share your thoughts and messages. 

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