Leave it to a 90-year-old former president to show us that effecting change doesn’t have to slow down with age. At last month’s Building Hope Celebration Dinner at AT&T Stadium former President Jimmy Carter joined chairs Lynn and Allen McBee and a thousand guests who helped raise $900,000 to support the 2014 Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project, during which thousands of volunteers helped build or repair more than 100 homes in Dallas and Fort Worth.
The evening began as any good celebration should, with a VIP reception. More than 150 patrons, along with Carter Work Project honorary chairs Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Micki Rawlings and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price and Tom Price, mingled over cocktails and hors d’oeuvre. Midway through the reception, President Carter arrived and greeted each person in attendance.
When the dinner bell rang, celebrants took their seats at tables spread from the 50-yard line to the end zone. But their dinner chatter was interrupted by the sounds of hammers and birds, as students from Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts took the stage. Dressed as Habitat for Humanity volunteers, they performed to “Our House” by Madness while a Habitat home was built behind them in three minutes.
Then a video played that explained the journey of new Dallas Habitat homeowner Benita Luna and her two children. At the end of the video, President Carter walked through the front door of the house built onstage and handed the Lunas the keys to their new Habitat home.
Once the Lunas had the keys to their future in hand, special guest Wynonna Judd stepped into the spotlight. Her heartfelt performance turned into a nostalgic storytelling session at times, as she dedicated the song “Grandpa” to her own that inspired her in her journey to become a musician. During her final song of the evening, “No One Else on Earth,” guests rushed the stage, and leading the pack were Gillian Breidenbach, Kate Rose Marquez, Amy Simmons and Leigh Ann Haugh.
In addition to the aforementioned VIPs, North Texans — including Dallas-area Habitat for Humanity CEO Bill Hall and Kelli Hall, Trinity Habitat for Humanity executive director Gage Yager and Emily Yager, Shannon and Ted Skokos, Heather and Scott Alexander, Brian Casey, Stephen Goldmann, Joyce Goss, Kenny Goss, Matthew Simon, Keith Schumann, Jennifer Staubach Gates, Amy Simmons, Ruth O’Donnell Mutch, Mary and Mike Terry, and Jennifer Sampson — showed up en masse to support President Carter and all that he has done to help change lives through Habitat For Humanity.
For 30 years, former President Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, have given a week of their time to help Habitat for Humanity improve and build homes throughout the world. The Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project helps raise awareness for the critical need for simple, decent and affordable housing.