Mario and Phyllis Mora, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter

By Mary Lou Egan

Jimmy Carter has been called “the best former president in history.”

The nation is looking to Plains, Georgia, where Carter is receiving hospice care, and many are reflecting on the legacy of America’s 39th president.

Mary Lou Egan

Thousands of people have inspiring stories about President Carter, including Globeville residents Mario and Phyllis Mora. Mario and Phyllis Mora had lived in their home for 35 years when they connected with Habitat for Humanity through Holy Rosary Church. They filled out the paperwork, completed the required hours of community service and qualified for the project.

When they learned they’d been accepted, Mario spent five months in his workshop hand-carving an aluminum teardrop peace sign and wooden display box as a gift to the former president and first lady. Habitat for Humanity was founded in 1976, and Jimmy Carter became aware of it in 1984.

As he was jogging by one of their projects in New York City, he thought to himself, “Rosalynn and I should come up and give them a hand.”

The couple has been deeply involved in Habitat since then. Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver hosted the 2013 Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project from Oct. 6-11. In just five days, about 2,000 volunteers, staff and partner families built 11 new homes and repaired 15 existing ones in Globeville.

A number of special guests donned hard hats at the site, including President and Mrs. Carter, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, and members of the Denver Broncos and the Denver Nuggets. Then in their 80s, the Carters worked alongside volunteers to construct a new handicap- accessible ramp and driveway for the Moras’ home. They also made repairs to the garage workshop and exterior of the house.

Former President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, standing third and fourth from the left in the front row, with the Moras, in the orange T-shirts, and volunteers. Photo courtesy of Phyllis and Mario Mora

Phyllis remarked, “He and his wife have very big hearts for doing this. It was a big blessing for us.”

Mario remembers Carter as a man who was deeply involved with international peace efforts when he was in office, but it was an entirely different experience to see him in Globeville.

“He was working, and so was his wife, whatever they needed to do,” Mario said.

When the job was completed, Mario presented the handcrafted gift and display case to the former president and first lady and received a personal thank you letter from them.

For the last 10 years, the Moras have enjoyed the improvements to their property and cherished their experience with the remarkable Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter.

Mary Lou Egan is a fourth-generation Coloradan who loves history. You can reach her at

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