Former Pres. Carter, Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood in San Jose for Habitat for Humanity

Celebrities get their hands dirty helping to provide homes for people in need.

Bay City News Service —  Former President Jimmy Carter, his wife Rosalynn and other volunteers helped renovate a home in East San Jose this morning for a pair of immigrants from Ethiopia.

 "It's a blessing," said Tiruword Leyew, 37, a nursing assistant with Kaiser Permanente, who will live at the home with her family. "I'm so happy, thank God," she said.

As part of Tuesday's morning's efforts, country music stars Garth Brooks and his wife Trisha Yearwood helped other Habitat for Humanity volunteers renovate a home several blocks away on South King Road for a woman who immigrated to the U.S. from the East African country of Eritrea. 

 The former president —dressed in jeans, a gray long-sleeve shirt and a Habitat for Humanity cap with a red handkerchief around his neck — took a prominent role outside the modest three-bedroom home this morning by installing the front door, while Rosalynn vacuumed wood dust in the living room.

 The Carters were in San Jose to work on the home for Habitat for Humanity, an international nonprofit program that uses volunteers to build or renovate houses for low-income people. The Carters have been participating in the program for 30 years, each year at a different location. They were at an Oakland volunteer site on Monday.

 Leyew and her husband, Mulugeta Jenber, 30, a machine worker, were looking for housing earlier this year for themselves, their infant son and Leyew's mother when someone advised them to apply for housing with Habitat for Humanity.

 Leyew has been in the U.S. since 2001 and Jenber has been here since 2011. They both had dinner with the Carters on Monday night.

"We hugged him last night," Jenber said. Jenber said his family of four is now living in a one-bedroom apartment and expects to move into the home on Terilyn Avenue before the New Year.

 A few blocks away country music star Brooks and his wife helped other Habitat for Humanity volunteers renovate a home on South King Road for a woman who immigrated to the U.S. from the East African country of Eritrea.

 Semira Abdurihim, 36, also a nursing assistant at Kaiser, became emotional when talking about moving into the home with her son and daughter, ages 5 and 6.

 "I'm so speechless, I don't know what to say," she said. She said she would have new kitchen cabinets after the renovation. Yearwood said, "Basic shelter is a fundamental human right, and it brings dignity to the families and everyone should have a roof over their head."

 Brooks, who wore a tool belt and jeans, added, "If it's not a human right it should be. Trust me, I get it more than anything that we can't house and feed the world, but until we've all tried I don't think we should say that."


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