During their 12-year partnership, Thrivent and Habitat for Humanity have helped create stable and more self-reliant communities by building and repairing affordable homes. In 2017, Thrivent took that vision a step further and created the foundation of an exciting new program.
Building on Faith provides Thrivent members and like-hearted people the opportunity to participate – beyond swinging a hammer.
Countering 'I'm not good at construction'
"Most Thrivent members are very supportive of our partnership with Habitat," says Jennifer Coan-Mahmood, Thrivent Member Network specialist for the Northeast region. "But that support doesn't always translate into participation in the building projects."
Thrivent went right to its members to find out why, Jennifer says. "One reason members weren't participating is because they weren't aware of where building activities were going on around them. And others said, 'I'm not good at construction.'"
"We want our members to know there's a place for everyone at a Thrivent Build." – Jennifer Coan-Mahmood
Building on Faith recognizes the broad definition of "build" that encompasses everything from prayer to plywood to paint. For instance, program volunteers can serve a meal to the building volunteers or clean a local playground. "Maybe you can't swing a hammer, but you may be able to use a rake," Jennifer says. Or bake a rib-sticking casserole for hungry builders. Or participate in a Thrivent prayer line. Or contact people who've expressed interest in Habitat but have been too shy to join.
"We want our members to know there's a place for everyone at a Thrivent Build," Jennifer says.
More than a building site
The Hartford, Connecticut, Habitat office also explored ways to connect more people to projects. They "asked owners of Thrivent-sponsored homes to share what home means to them and their families," says Karraine Moody, executive director of the Hartford Area Habitat for Humanity. "We had four or five families come to a meet-and-greet to tell their stories."
The families told volunteers and donors that having their own home had improved their lives – and, in some cases, had given them confidence to go to college or ensure their children went on to higher education.
In addition, Karraine says, "we wanted to bring in some new and young Habitat volunteers." Her office contacted several Christian churches and local college students who'd expressed interest in joining a build. "We had young, we had old, but all of the same Christian faith with the desire to serve," Karraine says.
Expanding the effort
This year, Building on Faith is adding new stories to that solid foundation. It's being extended from 14 to 24 Habitat offices across the country and will begin on Habitat Sunday (Sept. 16, 2018) and run through Clergy Appreciation Day (Oct. 14, 2018).
With a longer period of time, Habitat offices will be adding new kid-friendly activities and plenty of non-construction opportunities for adults, including preparing meals or helping out in Habitat ReStores, which sell donated furniture and tools.
Find out where there's a Building on Faith project near you. And if you can't participate on-site, you can put your skills and energy to work wherever you are:
Join a Thrivent prayer line for Building on Faith, praying for participants and homeowners. You'll receive updates on the month's activities in all the regions. Go to the Building on Faith page and select a region to join their virtual prayer chain.
Find a Build in your community. Additional Habitat and Thrivent projects are available in even more areas.