Gallaudet University was invited to participate in the Habitat for Humanity of Washington, DC, project to build a house in Ivy City on the northeast side of the campus in 2011. President Jimmy Carter and Rosemary Carter, his wife, joined the volunteers. It was an exhilarating experience for Vicki and me to work with the Carters and the volunteers. It rained hard all day long but the volunteers and the Carters got right to work. We were given hard hats, tools, and a tool pouch. What impressed me the most was that Jimmy Carter, at the age of eighty-eight, stood on one of the platforms and hammered countless thick four-inch nails into the wooden frames over a long period of time without pause. I stood right next to him and tried to emulate his stance, but I needed to take pauses between hammering nails.
I took a break and went to an open canopy for snacks. President Carter took the time to talk with the volunteers about his thirty-plus years of experience with Habitat for Humanity around the world. I’ll never forget when he said that he is a better “ex-president” than a governing president. After we were done, we had a very nice lunch at the Kellogg Conference Center. Vicki and I were honored to sit next to the Carters, and had fun talking with them about their marriage and family. They asked us a lot of questions about Gallaudet and expressed pride about the university’s accomplishments.