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The Blessing of a Home

Thrivent Builds volunteers help build Habitat for Humanity home

Two years ago, a pregnant Jennifer Martinez, her husband and their two small children were living in a leaky, old trailer on a relative's property in Coram, Montana. The well they used for drinking water sometimes ran dry, and bad electrical wiring in one of the trailer's walls made it hot to the touch.

Worried that the trailer would catch fire, the family moved to a rental house. But that house was very poorly insulated. "We spent a fortune on our electricity bill for the electric heaters," recalls Martinez, a nurse assistant.

Thankfully, in early 2013, work began on a Habitat for Humanity home for the family, built with their own sweat equity and the help of a team of volunteers from Thrivent Builds (Link opens in new window) , a partnership between Thrivent Financial and Habitat for Humanity. In October, the family moved into their new home. "We're finally secure and have a place to raise our kids," says Martinez.

Thrivent Builds volunteers – many of whom have never done construction work in their lives – worked on 111 homes in the U.S. in 2013. Since the partnership with Habitat for Humanity began in 2006, more than 538,000 volunteers, which include Thrivent members and members of Lutheran congregations, have given their time to the program. It can be an afternoon painting trim with the Thrivent Repairs program or a week or more on a Thrivent Builds Worldwide project outside the country.

When Jackie Hintz, a Thrivent member and employee who works with member programs, did her first build in Costa Rica in 2007, she didn't have a lick of construction experience. Since then, she's set aside savings to go on – and sometimes lead – 10 international trips on six different continents. (Volunteers pay their own airfare and a daily fee that covers in-country expenses.)

While on a Thrivent Builds trip in Argentina, Hintz was humbled by an 8-year-old boy who taught her how to break rocks. And in Costa Rica, she worked alongside a father who made $2 a day doing hard labor, then put in six hours at the building site after work so his new baby could grow up in a real home.

"The more you travel, the more you find out that people are more alike than they are different," she says. "They want to have a family that's raised in a good environment. They want happiness; they want health. It's so much more than building a house."

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