Jimmy Carter Habitat build coming to Mishawaka in 2018

Former President Jimmy Carter will be coming to Mishawaka next year and he’s bringing hundreds of friends with him.

Carter is synonymous with Habitat for Humanity and the group’s signature annual event bears his name.

In September of 2018, the spectacle known as the Jimmy Carter Work Project will descend on Mishawaka to build 20 new homes in just five days.

“We have 350 people (potential homeowners) that have already signed up for our information meeting, now we can take more, but we definitely have the interest level to fill these 20 slots,” said Jim Williams with St. Joseph County Habitat for Humanity.

Only 32 places on earth have ever hosted the hasty homebuilding spectacle.

In 2005, the event was held in Benton Harbor where volunteers build two dozen new homes in a single week.

After trips to the likes of Haiti and Nepal, Habitat is coming back to Michiana.

The 20 homes that will be built in a week on vacant land near the intersection of Jefferson Boulevard and Byrkit Street compare to the 10 the St. Joseph County chapter managed to finish in 2016.

“Habitat international is going to ask us how many volunteers we think we can accommodate but it's going to be between 200 and 300 out of state volunteers, plus a few hundred local volunteers,” said Williams. “It’s just the power of having so many people helping and just a focused plan and just executing that plan, it’s amazing how it all comes together.”

Perhaps no one is more aware of the coming transformation than Mishawaka Mayor Dave Wood—a five time Jimmy Carter Work Project volunteer.

“I’ve been here in the states, Plains, Georgia, Benton Harbor, in Houston and then been abroad in Durban, South Africa, and the Philippines as well,” said Mayor Wood. “The sight of a neighborhood being built from foundations to finished lots in a matter of one week is just an incredible sight.”

Mayor Wood says the root of the matter is bringing simple, decent, affordable homes for families in Mishawaka. “These families will own their home, they'll be involved as good citizens in their community, they will get involved in their neighborhood, and they will send their kids to Mishawaka schools.”

The 2018 site was announced last week at Habitat’s Global Conference in Atlanta.