RICHMOND, Ky. (FOX 56) — As the world continues to honor the legacy of the 39th U.S. President, Jimmy Carter, many Kentuckians reflect on when he was here in central and eastern Kentucky 25 years ago, when he helped build 50 affordable housing homes in one week.
Not everyone can say a former president helped build the home they’re still living in today.
But Richmond resident Rosetta Tremball-Salazar can.
“He did hammering, he did nailing, he did measuring,” Salazar said about Carter. “He was just a regular normal person, somebody that you just walk up to and say hello, he said hello, you shake hands.”
Salazar remembers the rain, and the mud, but out of it, came her three-bedroom, one-bathroom home, which is one of three Jimmy Carter Work Project homes in Richmond. Even her block is properly named, ‘Hammering Hills,’ and there is a picture of Carter inside her home on the street sign.
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But how did Carter even get to Kentucky?
Lyle Hanna with the Kentucky Habitat for Humanity said he knew Carter had a heart for Appalachia and he went all the way to Hungary to propose the building project.
“We met in this tent,” Hanna said. “Mary Diane, my wife, drew a map of Kentucky and Tennessee, and put stars where all the houses were, and said, we’re going to finish your house in three days. Then we’re going to put you on a helicopter and take you to Beattyville then to Morehead, Richmond, Berea, and other cities so everybody could get a part of this. He looked around and said, ‘Ok I’ll do it.’”
Hanna said Carter’s experience in Kentucky took him on to build more homes with Habitat for Humanity around the world.
“Then for years, we’d talk to people, and I’d see him, and he’d say, ‘That was my favorite project, that was awesome,” Hannah said about Carter.
Not only did Hanna go on to forge a lifelong friendship with carter, but so did Salazar. Both say they’re saddened carter is now in hospice.
“And I did send him a get-well card last week,” Salazar said. “Knowing that this special angel built my home, he did what god told him to do.’”