Home Base: Plains, Georgia
Occupation: 39th President of the United States; Global humanitarian
On His Plate: The annual Habitat for Humanity Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter work project in Léogâne, Haiti
I grew up during the Great Depression in a rural community about 2½ miles from Plains. During those ancient times I learned firsthand the problems of poverty and racial discrimination. That life showed me how important it is to reach out to people who are greatly in need.
Plains, Georgia, is my favorite spot in the South. When I left the Navy, I had job offers all over the world. We came back to Plains. When I left the governorship, we came back to Plains. When I left the presidency, we came back to Plains. Our land is there. Our church is there. Our friends are there. No matter where we are in the world, the number one goal for my wife, Rosalynn, and me is just to get back to Plains.
As a child, I was a typical farm boy. I’ve worked with my hands all my life—growing cotton, peanuts, and corn and building houses and repairing fences. Now I look back on those things with some pleasure. I can see that my favorite activities were those that bound me more closely to the land.
“You must be from Georgia.” That’s what a corpsman at the Navy hospital told my wife when she said, “It’s fixin’ to rain” before one of our babies was born. Fixin’ to eat, fixin’ to leave—that one word is my favorite Southern expression.
Each year we take a family vacation after Christmas. Rosalynn and I have four children, 12 grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren, and two more on the way. It’s difficult to get together on Christmas Day—too many in-laws! So every year for the past 25 years we take everyone on a Christmas vacation. My wife and I pay all the trip bills so, of course, everybody comes.
Building a home in five days is hard work. Particularly as I get older. But a secure house gives Habitat homeowners a realization that they can have a better life.
Every Sunday I’m in town I teach Bible lessons at Maranatha Baptist Church. For me Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Christ. I never let my family forget that.
My elementary school principal greatly influenced my life. Her name was Julia Coleman, and she saw in us young farm children the potential for greatness. That stuck with me.
I’m a turkey hunter. Every year I try to harvest two wild turkeys, one for Thanksgiving and one for Christmas. That’s our Christmas supper nowadays, a wild turkey and all the trimmings—dressing, collard greens, and corn on the cob.
When I won the Nobel Peace Prize, Willie Nelson came over to Oslo to perform “Georgia on My Mind.” Willie always invites me up on stage to sing “Amazing Grace.” I have a very bad voice, and he generally turns the microphone away from me. But I’m up there.