by contributor Donna Shor
Television’s Katie Couric was not just a celebrity figure at the Habitat for Humanity dinner at the National Building Museum where Haiti’s needs were a focus, Katie has actually walked the walk. Who can forget the hellish scene after the earthquake last year with Katie on the ground—amidst the squalor and misery—comforting a wounded Haitian child who clung to her hand, screaming “Why, why, why?"
She has been back to Haiti since to see the rebuilding Habitat for Humanity has underway. She emphasized the problem is global, saying “More than one and a half billion people around the world live in substandard housing.” These are buildings so flimsy that they collapse on the inhabitants when natural disasters strike.
The dinner marked a World Habitat Day event for Habitat for Humanity International. The group’s CEO, Jonathan Reckford, announced that the 500,00th home they have built for a homeless family was dedicated in Kenya, and they are just starting number 501 in Paterson, New Jersey.
In Haiti, the 28th annual Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter Work Project will be Haiti-based November 5-12, when President and Mrs. Carter join hundreds of volunteers to build homes with families. Delta Airlines will transport the volunteers who will build 100 core houses during the week.
Former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros spoke before awards were presented to Senator Johnny Isakson and Representative Brad Miller. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressed the group by video.
Also honored for their ongoing humanitarian efforts were Mark Shriver, Save the Children; John Stoner, McKinsey & Company; Major League Baseball, by Tim Brosnan, representing Allan (Bud) Selig and MLB; and The International Federating of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
Joining the atmosphere of hope and progress was the upbeat combination of Del McCourt’s (Bluegrass) and New Orlean’s pride, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. That was a joy for the ears; easy on the eyes was lovely Emily Bergl, of Desperate Housewives renown. At her table, Emily said she came down from New York for the dinner because “I feel very strongly about the work of Habitat and I’ve been a fan of Jimmy Carter and all the good things he does since I was a little girl.”