Koinonia Farm’s vision statement is “love through service to others, joy through generous hospitality, peace through reconciliation.” All of our guest rooms are named after people who have come before us and embodied these ideas. These peacemakers are from all over the world and from all different periods of history. This “great cloud of witnesses” and their stories encourage us to keep pursuing love, joy, and peace in our life and work.
Rosalynn Smith Carter was born on August 18, 1927 in Plains, Georgia. She is the oldest of four children born to Allethea and Wilburn Smith. Her father died in 1940, when Rosalynn was 13 years old. She helped her mother work as a dressmaker to provide for the family. After graduating high school, she attended Georgia Southwestern College in Americus, Georgia. In 1946, she and U.S. Naval Ofﬁcer Jimmy Carter were married.
For seven years, Rosalynn was a navy wife. She and Jimmy had three sons and moved around the country together. In 1953, Jimmy’s father died and the Carter family returned to Plains to run the family peanut farm. Her husband quickly became involved in local politics, which led to a term in the Georgia Senate in 1962. In 1967, their daughter Amy was born. By 1970, Jimmy Carter was the governor of Georgia and in 1976, he was elected as President of the United States and Rosalynn became the First Lady. Throughout his campaigns, Rosalynn worked alongside Jimmy, traveling all over, speaking, and campaigning for her husband.
Once in the White House, Rosalynn worked on her own projects and assisted with her husband’s work. She regularly sat in on Cabinet meetings and was always well informed on the policy and workings of the administration. She traveled the world speaking and meeting people on behalf of the President. Mrs. Carter’s own initiatives focused on the arts and mental health. She sat as Honorary Chairperson of the President’s Commission on Mental Health. Through this position and her attention to mental health, she helped the Mental Health Systems Act, which was passed in 1980.
After her term as First Lady, Rosalynn joined Jimmy Carter in founding The Carter Center in 1982. Her work for mental health continued there on the center’s Mental Health Task Force. Through this board, Carter was able to work for better funding, research, and education in the mental health ﬁelds. She also works with the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving, founded at her alma mater in 1987. This institute supports caregivers and their families through advocacy, education, research, and service.
At a time when more and more Americans are called on to give care, it is critically important that we do all we can to support both family and professional caregivers.
Rosalynn Carter continues to work at the Carter Center to bring about world peace and human rights. She travels the world working with other countries to have fair elections, to eradicate the Guinea worm disease, and to resolve conﬂict. She also works with Habitat for Humanity to build safe, affordable, decent housing around the world. Mrs. Carter was an active First Lady and continues to be just as active out of the White House. Her work with caregivers and in the ﬁeld of mental health provides much needed education, research, and help in areas that are often neglected or misunderstood. Her tireless efforts to bring about a better world are a reminder that change is possible one step at a time.
A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.