January 15, 2020
He’s called the Jack of Hearts – a friend to everyone he meets. A Jack Rabbit – always up for exploring something new. Some people know him as the man who went skydiving weeks before his 100th birthday. To Our Towns Habitat for Humanity, Jack Hart was a valued volunteer, supporter, friend and the 2019 Founder’s Award Honoree.
The Founder’s Award was created to honor individuals who have been instrumental in the development and sustainability of affordable housing in North Mecklenburg and Iredell Counties. It’s given annually for ongoing support of Habitat for Humanity and its vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to live.
Jack Hart discovered Habitat for Humanity late in life. In fact, he was in his late 80s when his daughter Carolyn drove him to the Cornelius ReStore and asked if he could volunteer. Jack quickly became a utility player at the store, who fixed up furniture to garner a higher price and repaired ceiling fans to get them ready for sale. Most of all, he was a friend and support to his fellow volunteers.
“He enjoyed woodworking and hearing other people’s stories. He loved people,” said Carolyn Hart. “Besides the friendships he made volunteering at the ReStore, he found a sense of community there, too — and enjoyed being a part of something bigger than himself.”
Jack’s service to Habitat didn’t stop at the ReStore door. He took his curiosity, enthusiasm and zeal for service to Guatemala four times, from ages 91 to 94, to help build simple, decent homes for people in one of the poorest countries on earth. As Habitat for Humanity’s oldest international volunteer, Jack didn’t sit on the sidelines and watch others work. He helped move 300 cinderblocks hand to hand to the homesite.
When he could no longer travel, Jack supported Our Towns Habitat in other ways. Today, thanks to his daughter Carolyn Hart and her partner Sandy Godwin, there’s a Jack Hart fund available for Habitat’s Women Build program and other urgent needs to help support the mission of affordable housing.
Jack died in 2018, just past his 100th birthday. Until the very end, he was always “up to something” according to those who knew him well. His legacy lives on at Our Towns Habitat.