More Than Meets the Eye

Thrivent Financial supports Habitat in many different ways.

 

It was still early morning on the jobsite, but I could feel that the day was going to be a hot one. There was a group of volunteers that had traveled from Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, and New Jersey. There were some locals too. I could see three individuals high up on ladders, hammering down top plates across the tops of the interior walls of the newly-started Thrivent Builds house.

I snapped a few photos (the reason for my visit) and went inside the neighboring house, which already had a roof and drywall. There were a few people from the group, Thrivent Builds Worldwide, working on painting; another was learning how to install trim. “Hi, I’m Greta. I work for Habitat,” I say to the first stranger I see. She was a smiling blonde woman, seemingly happy to be here to help. I inquired about her name and how far she’d come. “Did you know that the house next door is the Thrivent Builds house?” she asked. Yes, I did. It was neat to see the pride in her face when she said it, though.

The Thrivent Builds Worldwide team takes a break for a group photo.

The Thrivent Builds Worldwide team takes a break for a group photo.

This group of 13 had been here in Asheville only one day, yet they were already so attached to the new Thrivent Builds Habitat house going up. That’s representative of the community of Thrivent Financial members. Thrivent Financial is a financial services organization. It’s the only Fortune 500 Company that is a not-for-profit—a unique kind, for that matter. It’s a fraternal benefit society which, by definition, requires Thrivent Financial to provide insurance to its members and carry out social, educational, and charitable purposes for the benefit of its members and the public.

Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity is a multi-year, multi-million dollar mission partnership between Thrivent Financial and Habitat for Humanity International. It’s the largest non-government partner and sponsor of Habitat for Humanity. Through that partnership, local Habitat for Humanity affiliates, like Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity, can apply each year for funding from Thrivent Financial. This is the eighth year that Thrivent Financial has sponsored a Habitat house in Buncombe County – each time, donating 50% of the affiliate’s construction costs ($75, 693), which is 1½ times more than the designated full-house sponsor level. They also get local Lutheran churches involved in helping by providing funds and volunteers. That’s something to be proud of.

But there’s more. Thrivent Financial also pays a portion of the travel costs for its members to participate in Thrivent Builds Worldwide trips, like the one that has brought this group to our Asheville jobsite for the week. But, what if you’re too young to go on a trip, or to volunteer locally on the Thrivent Builds house? That doesn’t stop the local youth from the four Lutheran churches that also fundraise for this house: Abiding Savior Lutheran Church, Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Lutheran Church of the Nativity, and St. Mark’s Lutheran Church.

Several years ago, the pastor at one of the churches came up with an idea to get their young people involved in the excitement of the Thrivent Builds House. He started Thrivent Youth Build. Each year, Asheville Area Habitat core volunteers, who are also Thrivent Financial members, devise a construction project appropriate for youth. They prepare the lumber, make the plans, and supervise the build, which takes place at one of the local Lutheran churches. Girls and boys come out to help build something useful for Habitat. One year they built dog houses that were sold in the Habitat ReStore; another year it was picnic tables for the jobsite volunteers to use during their breaks. Twice now they’ve built components like headers and ladders that will be incorporated into the Thrivent Builds House. It’s a great way to introduce youth to Habitat and get them thinking about volunteering and giving back.

The first wall of the 2015 Thrivent Builds House was raised in early June.

The first wall of the 2015 Thrivent Builds House was raised in early June.

It’s apparent that Thrivent Financial members are fired up about being a part of such a giving organization. In building the Habitat house, they are building a future for a family they may not even know, and they are also building community among themselves. The trip leader, Tim Bauer, summarized it well. “This type of trip has people working together, forming great friendships, and helping the community—it’s a great program.”

We think so too. Thanks, Thrivent Financial, for your continued support over the years.