Building community – worldwide

Twin Cities woman finds ways to give back by seeing the world

Can you help provide shelter for the needy and see the world at the same time? Yes – and this Twin Cities woman knows how.

Last May, Kari Woodson received an email from Thrivent Builds. The essence of the message: She'd been chosen to be a team leader on the milestone 1,000th Thrivent Builds Worldwide team if she was interested.

She was. The Twin Cities-area attorney had served as a Thrivent Builds team leader nine times before. (Her husband, Bill, has joined her on most of those trips.) Those teams usually comprised eight to 18 people. The 1,000th team was a contingent of eight Thrivent Builds teams from across the U.S.

The destination for the trip was the Romanian city of Bacau, located five hours northeast of Bucharest. It was the city where Thrivent Builds' first Worldwide team worked in 2005. In fact, Woodson would lead one of the teams making up the multiteam contingent of Thrivent Builds Worldwide's 1,000th team. Thus the name of her group: TEAM 1000.

Woodson and the other TEAM 1000 members gathered in Bacau during the first week of October 2016, helping multiple families complete construction activities on what will become their new homes. While there, Thrivent Builds Worldwide partnered with Habitat Romania.

"We really believe in the mission – to eliminate poverty housing throughout the world."

When did you first get involved in this type of volunteer work?

My first Habitat trip was over Thanksgiving of 2005. I met my husband (a fellow teammate) on that trip, too. We both starting doing Habitat because we love to travel and volunteer. He's an architect. He enjoys the building part of it, too.

Why did you sign up to lead the TEAM 1000 trip?

I always wanted to do a multiteam build and see what that was like. It was cool that it was TEAM 1000. They helped us recruit because the time was limited. What's more, I'd never been to Romania. My husband and I usually pick a country that we have not been to.

Where have you been as part of Thrivent Builds trips?

El Salvador, Nicaragua, Argentina, Malawi, Portugal and Trinidad and Tobago. On all of the other trips, my husband and I would recruit the team.

What work did you perform in Romania?

We were building roof trusses, floors and the walls. We were just doing them and setting them aside to construct once they got the permits.

Why do you and your husband enjoy working on Thrivent Builds and Habitat for Humanity trips?

We really believe in the mission – to eliminate poverty housing throughout the world. And my husband and I also love to travel and learn about new cultures. This is such a great way to do that because you can also do something good at the same time. It's very fulfilling, and a great way to spend our vacation time.

What do you enjoy about being a team leader?

I get to encourage people to step out of their comfort zone and do something they may have thought about doing for a long time. I think it's a successful trip when at the end, my team members go home and say, "I had so much fun doing this that I want to do it again," or, "I want to tell my friends and family about it and get them involved."

Build a Better World

Thrivent Builds empowers Thrivent members and other volunteers to help families obtain strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter. Learn how you can become part of a life-changing event. Find a build in your area or find a trip to join.