Habitat Humanitarians: Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood
Country music stars and longtime Habitat volunteers Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood have volunteered with Habitat for more than a decade. The couple first volunteered with Habitat in New Orleans to help build the 1,000th and 1,001st post-Hurricane Katrina Habitat homes on the Gulf Coast. They also have lent their names and support to numerous Habitat events and projects, including the Carter Work Project and National Women Build Week.
A Q&A with Trisha Yearwood
On the meaning of “home”
“When I think of home, it is that safe place, one of those things that you don’t really think about every day if you have always had a place to live. The thing that I have learned through volunteering with Habitat is everybody doesn’t have a roof over their head. But what I love about Habitat is that it provides that basic first step that creates a haven and a safe place.”
On her fellow Habitat Humanitarians
“With Garth, ‘generous’ is the word that comes to mind. He really takes joy in helping others. I think Habitat fits him perfectly because it gives him a chance to do all the things that he is just so good at naturally.
“The President and Mrs. Carter, you kind of can’t say one without the other. They are a really good team. He just shines when she is around. Whatever he is doing on the worksite, he makes sure he knows where she is. President Carter always says she is the boss. She has that quiet, Southern strength, and I admire her so much.”
On her first experience volunteering with Habitat and why she continues
“We knew Habitat built houses, but we didn’t know the whole piece about it being a hand up, not a handout. And how you work side by side with the homeowner and the sweat equity they put in. We just fell in love with the physical labor — Garth and I really like to build. I’m a little tomboy daughter, the son my dad never had. We were hooked.
“The other piece for us is getting to work alongside President and Mrs. Carter, just to observe their work ethic and love and compassion. We are so lucky to get the chance to be a part of that.”
On what moves her about volunteering with Habitat
“There is something that moves you on every build you do. One of the most moving experiences is our trip to Haiti. The first time we went was over a year after the earthquake. I have never in my life seen the kinds of conditions that people were living in. Because Haiti was in such need, we went back the next year and got to visit the houses that we had built the previous year. The homeowners were doing great. They had gardens. You could just see the difference, especially in their eyes. You could see in their faces the joy of homeownership.”
On her favorite jobs on a build site
“I like the jobs that require tools that are kind of aggressive. They call me the ‘Nail Gun Diva.’ In Haiti, I was one of the few girls carrying a small drill — that was my pride and joy. My drill is the perfect size for the tin roofs we were putting on. All the roofing guys were coming by going, ‘Hey, Trisha, can we borrow your drill for a little bit?’ I was very popular. I loved it. I’ll do anything, but I like a job that requires hammering or nailing. And I do like that nail gun. It is so fast.”
On what she gets from Habitat families
“Habitat is a great reminder to me of how grateful I need to be on a daily basis. I believe the adage, ‘To whom much is given, from him much is expected.’ Part of my job in life is to give back, and this is a wonderful way for me to give back.
“I grew up in a small town, and if you needed something, the whole community rallied. I think that is what draws me to Habitat. In the days you work on a house, you quickly become a community. I will always be that small-town girl, and I like that small-town feeling that we are all in this together. Habitat gives me that.”
“At some point you have to stop and just listen. The hammering of these hundreds and hundreds of hammers and you know what they’re doing, they’re building love, man. And it’s the greatest feeling on the planet.
“I can see why the family that was the president and first lady of a nation found something even greater to spend the rest of their life doing. And we would like to personally volunteer to do that ourselves.”