The morning sun beams into Vail Valley, Colorado. Women clad in pink "Live Generously" shirts accessorized with pink beads arrive to begin a full day of construction. After a devotional or prayer to kick things off, they pick up hammers, nails and two-by-fours to begin building a new house for a family in need of a home.
This is the dream made real by Dana Erickson, a Thrivent Financial professional whose annual Diva Day event has brought more than 100 women together to build decent, affordable housing. Since 2012, she's organized the unique one-day Thrivent Build project in partnership with Habitat for Humanity.
Driven mom, generous daughter
Dana credits her mother – a single parent raising three children – as inspiration for creating Diva Day. "My mom worked so hard to provide a safe, clean, comfortable and loving home for us. It was a modest home, built in 1888, that we painstakingly remodeled. Mom still lives there and it's the cornerstone of our family's memories and love."
Dana is driven too – to build cornerstones for other families. The idea behind a homebuilding event crewed by women began to take shape while working for Thrivent back in her home state of Minnesota. "I love the mission behind Habitat. I love the idea of women coming together – to have fun, work hard and learn new skills," says Dana. She brought Diva Day with her when she moved to Colorado.
"We blew the doors off by showing how strong we can be when we all work together to serve others!" – Dana Erickson, Thrivent Financial professional
Construction professions are still predominantly male, so Diva Day is designed to give women the opportunity to gain hands-on construction experience and learn more about the process of building a home – all while garnering or honing building and repair skills.
Dana notes that participants often comment about how good it feels to give back, and how they sometimes didn't realize Habitat was so active in the community. Diva Day builders feel a sense of accomplishment in every detail they complete. "We can walk by the homes and point to windows, trim, handrails – entire floors of homes – that were installed by Diva Day teams."
A cause for celebration
The day isn't all hard labor. Dana designed an event that fulfills mind, body and soul. She notes that their main objective is accomplished in an atmosphere of camaraderie and self-care. "We usually invite a massage therapist to provide chair massages or have a yoga session during lunch," she says.
Last summer, Dana recalls, so many Diva Day volunteers participated they were able to complete the framing of an entire second story – nailing by hand. "We blew the doors off by showing how strong we can be when we all work together to serve others!"
Building memories – and momentum
Like all Thrivent Builds projects, future homeowners contribute a specified number of works hours toward their home's construction.
"It's rewarding working side by side with people making their homeownership dreams come true. The moms, daughters and aunties particularly enjoy working alongside a crew of women. It's a fun and empowering day for everyone involved."
Plans are underway to expand Diva Day into a quarterly event and to partner with other businesses owned and managed by women.