When Jimmy Carter left the White House in 1981, he and Rosalynn Carter pledged to dedicate their lives not to politicking but to performing "public service on a global scale." They have done so by applying their amateur carpenters' skills to building houses for the poor and homeless in slum areas of cities in the United States and abroad.
On Friday, Mr. and Mrs. Carter are scheduled to come to Baltimore to kick off a fund-raising campaign to restore 100 dilapidated brick row houses over the next five years in the depressed Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood. A few months later, the former first couple will return to Baltimore to work with more than 500 other volunteers to rebuild the first 10 of those homes.
Sandtown is one of the poorest areas of the city. The average annual income of its 1,200 West Baltimore residents is estimated to be just under $7,000. Yet the neighborhood has much pride and cohesion, as has been evidenced by giant reunions of current and former residents. The goal of the forthcoming Sandtown effort is to turn some of Sandtown's poor into home owners and at the same start reducing the number of TTC boarded-up houses (650 in all) which currently dot its streets.