Former President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter are in Oakland and San Jose this week to kick off events benefiting Habitat for Humanity.
At 8 a.m. Monday, the 89-year-old Carter - dressed in jeans, a light blue button-down shirt and a tan cap - fired up a power saw and pitched in along with the rest of the volunteering crew.
He was participating in a full day of Habitat for Humanity construction at the Brookfield Court development at 9507 Edes Avenue in Oakland. "We're not bosses," he said. "We're servants."
This same Habitat site made headlines on Oct. 1, when eight staff members were robbed of their cell phones and wallets.
"I heard about it,"Carter said. "It's kind of a shame. Not only to steal, but to steal from people looking for their first home for the first time in their lives."
The construction followed a night of music and fundraising at the Paramount Theater on Sunday. The Carters spoke briefly and heard performances by Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, and En Vogue.
"Thank you all very much," Carter told the cheering crowd at the theater. "Well, I'm very proud to be in Oakland."
Brooks and Yearwood showed up Monday to help build homes in East Oakland, too. "It's humbling," Yearwood said.
Humbling to build homes for women such as Maria Zavala, who will be able to move into one of the 12 units, and who told NBC Bay Area: "I'm very happy. This is good for my kids."
Carter's visit marks the 30th annual Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project. And fundraising efforts - including proceeds from ticket sales - will benefit Habitat for Humanity East Bay/ Silicon Valley and affordable housing projects across the Bay Area.
The Carters are scheduled to appear at another Habitat for Humanity project in San Jose on Tuesday, before heading to related events in Denver, Colo., New York City.
Bay City News contributed to this report.