Carter Work Project kicks off at Notre Dame

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - "We shall be putting money into a home that we can eventually own and say it is ours," Habitat for Humanity homeowner Benito Salazar said. "We shall have a new beginning."

The Salazar family is looking forward to their new beginning all thanks to the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project.

The family had outgrown their two-bedroom apartment.

The Salazars are one of 22 families receiving new homes this week.

An experience they say has brought them closer to their community.

"I have always been an introvert," Salazar said. "And never really learned my neighbors at our apartment complex. Now I'm seeing and speaking with my future neighbors."

Sunday afternoon officially kicked off the weeklong building project.

"It takes the public sector, the private sector, civil society and volunteers to come out and create the kind of community we all want to be a part of," Habitat for Humanity International CEO Jonathan Reckford said.

It's the 35th year of the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project.

Their impact so far meaning that every 50 seconds someone, somewhere gets a new and improved home.

Their humanitarian efforts praised by one comedian who joked that all he did in a 35-year span was talk to movie stars.

"They have become in their lives, a beacon, a beacon to show you what needs to be done and how it can be done," David Letterman said.

The former president weighed in on how meaningful Habitat projects are to him.

"We always feel that Rosalynn and I got more out of it than we put into it," President Jimmy Carter said. "It's been a great blessing to us."

For the Salazar family, a message of hope to all of the future homeowners.

"May the key to your homes be the keys to success to every individual in your family," Benito Salazar said.