Former President Jimmy Carter speaks at Habitat for Humanity opening ceremony in Nashville

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter is spending the week in Nashville, giving back to families in need.

Carter spoke on the stage of the historic Ryman Auditorium Sunday evening with his wife Rosalynn by his side and a bandage over his left eye.

“Well, first of all, I want to explain my black eye,” Carter told the crowd.

The 95-year-old president made an appearance despite a fall and 14 stitches just hours earlier.

“I had number one priority, and that was to come to Nashville to build houses,” Carter said as the audience cheered.

Nashville is the destination for the couple’s 36th year of the Carter Work Project with Habitat Humanity.

“In 14 foreign countries and in the United States we’ve built more than 4,300 houses,” Carter said.

The kickoff event featured Governor Bill Lee and Mayor John Cooper.

“President Carter spoke of a country that works for everyone, and frankly, I ran for mayor to make Nashville a city that works for everyone here today is making that possible, thank you,” Cooper said.

There were also performances by big country music volunteers Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks.

Mrs. Carter also addressed the auditorium packed with volunteers.

“Seeing people like you who come just because you want to make life better for somebody else, I have great admiration for all of you,” Rosalynn Carter said.

Hundreds of volunteers traveled to help build a total of 21 houses in a week for selected Nashville families.

“Because of programs like Habitat for Humanity, I am able to see a vision for my future that is very different from what I’ve known and what my family has experienced,” recipient Tara Morgan said.

Those receiving the homes will help build them and pay an interest-free mortgage, blessings they say help their families survive in the “it” city — with the cost of living growing with the population. 
Volunteers begin working on the homes Monday morning in the North Nashville Park Preserve affordable housing neighborhood.

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Aaron Nolan is a morning show co-host in Little Rock, Arkansas with Nexstar Media Group's KARK-TV. He has a passion for social media and makes it an important part of his daily routine. Click here to read Aaron's full bio.