EAST VILLAGE, Manhattan (PIX11) — Former President Jimmy Carter is famous for his work building homes for those in need with Habitat for Humanity. But did you know, his first project with what was virtually an unknown nonprofit at the time was actually in Manhattan’s East Village?

742 East 6th Street was an abandoned shell of a building back in 1984. It was overrun by rats and primarily used as a shooting gallery for drug addicts.

Carter answered the call of a local New York volunteer asking if he could help out renovating the building to ease the housing crisis.

The New York media seized on the story of the former president hammering nails and spending a week of his time helping volunteers create new homes. That media coverage helped make Habitat for Humanity a household name.

Volunteers remember the former president being the first to arrive on the job in the morning and the last to leave at night. He even brought his own tools.

Carter’s partnership with Habitat for Humanity helped build thousands of homes across the country for those in need. And it all started on the Lower East Side almost 40 years ago.