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Jimmy Carter Shines A Light For All To See
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After Jimmy Carter left the office of the presidency in January 1981 — succeeded by Ronald Reagan — the Georgian set his sights on “letting his light so shine” to make a positive difference through charity and volunteer endeavors. Motivated primarily by his deep Christian faith and the biblical mandate to love and serve others, Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, embarked on an active life of community involvement that gradually expanded into a significant worldwide influence.

In 1982, they founded the Carter Center for the purpose of advancing human rights and alleviating suffering. Specifically, the nonprofit, nongovernmental center promotes democracy, mediates and prevents conflicts, monitors the electoral process in support of free and fair elections, and works to improve global health through the control and eradication of diseases and the advocating of improved nutrition (especially in areas marked by severe malnutrition such as sub- Saharan Africa).

The former president also became a key champion of Habitat for Humanity. Since its 1976 founding by Millard Fuller in Americus, Georgia — a stone’s throw from Carter’s hometown of Plains — Habitat volunteers have built more than 500,000 houses, providing affordable shelter for more than 1.75 million people on five continents and in 3,000 communities. Carter’s visible role in the nonprofit organization helped to explode its growth and ensure its success in providing hope to “partner families” (each homeowner must invest “sweat equity” into the building of their home) who otherwise could not afford to buy a house.

Carter has been honored with numerous humanitarian awards in the three-plus decades since he began his post-presidential life. He received the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts “to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development.” He is the only president to receive the award after leaving office.