WASHINGTON – The rain poured down on Habitat for Humanity volunteers Monday, but Kiona Mack kept on working toward her first home.
“This is not going to stop me,” Mack said.
Mack,28,is a single mother of two whose future home was being built as part of the kickoff of the 27th annual Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project. The former president helped put up the frame of Mack's house.
The Carter Work Project started in 1985 and builds home internationally with the help of Habitat for Humanity. The construction was part of World Habitat Day. In the past,homes have been built in Mexico,Chicago,Kentucky and the Philippines.
Three-hundred volunteers started to build or renovate 12 homes in the Ivy City neighborhood in Washington. In total 1,000 volunteers will construct and renovate 86 homes in Baltimore,Annapolis,Md.; Minneapolis; St. Paul,Minn.,and Birmingham,Ala.
Ivy City's average family income is $18,000,and only 12 percent of the residents in the area are homeowners.
Carter,wearing a Habitat for Humanity cap and a tool belt,spoke at a press conference midway through his work on Mack's house.
“It's a challenging,gratifying experience,” Carter said.
Carter and his wife got involved in Habitat for Humanity in 1984 when they worked on a house in Georgia.
Although Carter was hospitalized in Ohio last week,he said during the press conference that he was healthy. “I'm perfectly OK,” he said.
Carter said he will continue to help out with Habitat for Humanity for as long as he is able to.
Volunteers were spread out across all of the construction sites.
Martha Parrish flew in from New York to help renovate a house that was being gutted. She spent the morning removing siding.
Parrish,a retired art gallery owner,has volunteered with Habitat for Humanity for about two years.
“I believe in the principle of hard work,” she said. “It's not a handout,it's a hand up.”
Parrish said she had donated money to Habitat for Humanity in the past,but also likes that it is a hands-on project where volunteers can see the end result.
She said families' lives also change,not just their housing situation.
Mack said she has always wanted her own home but wasn't able to buy one.
“It's so hard when you're a single parent,” she said.
She works as an administrative assistant for the Tyler House Apartments,where she also lives.
After doing research,she learned about Habitat for Humanity,went to an information session in May and realized she was eligible to apply for a house.
Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents,first-time buyers,attend homeowner workshops,agree to a 30-year mortgage and make a $500 down payment. Mack has to work for 300 hours to help build her home.
She said has a 3-year-old daughter,but her 7-year-old son is most excited about their new future. “My son is excited because he will have his own backyard,” she said.
Construction on Mack's home should be finished in May.