Impressions of a first-timer



  International and domestic volunteer opportunities are offered to Thrivent Financial employees, members and other volunteers through Thrivent Builds Worldwide, a program of Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity.

By Jennifer DeBruin, Thrivent Financial for Lutherans employee and 2011 Corporate Volunteer Team participant

My first Thrivent Builds trip was an amazing experience. Words can’t describe what a difference the trip has made in my life. Since I’ve returned, my perspective on things is different (more positive), and I have a stronger faith. I was able to learn a lot of new building techniques like how to side a house, use a screw gun and build a deck. However, what really changed my life were the relationships I built and the opportunity to work with others closely as a team.

Our team built two houses in Biloxi, Mississippi, both on stilts, an insurance requirement in the area since Hurricane Katrina. My first day standing on top of the scaffolding was scary, but by the end of the week, it felt natural. I couldn’t have learned what I did without the support, patience and trust of our construction crew, our trip leader, and all the Gulf Coast participants.

After each strenuous but rewarding day on the build, we were able to have some fun team-building activities like eating catfish and all the Southern fixings at Aunt Jenny’s, going on a swamp tour, and just hanging out and getting to know each other better.

I can’t wait to have an opportunity to go on another Thrivent Builds trip. It wasn’t easy leaving my kids for a week, but when I returned, I shared my wonderful experience with them and they understood. My daughter was so moved by my stories that she asked to bring a piece of the siding and photos I had from the trip to share with her first grade class. The class thought it was neat that there was help for families who didn’t have homes.