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Habitat for Humanity El Salvador recently completed its 7,000th house, thanks in part to Thrivent Financial for Lutherans offering help with the construction of a new community

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (July 15, 2009) — Excitement, gratitude and hope were in the air as Habitat for Humanity El Salvador celebrated a major milestone on July 1 in Santa Ana, El Salvador. As a band played lively melodies, the homebuilding organization dedicated its 7,000th safe, decent and affordable house since it was founded in 1992.

The 200-person celebration took place in a new community of colorful Habitat homes, neat sidewalks and blooming gardens. Habitat El Salvador staff, construction masons and several new homeowner families celebrated this milestone with Minneapolis-based Thrivent Financial for Lutherans volunteers. Through a unique alliance with Habitat for Humanity International, Thrivent Financial is helping to make this model community possible.

In 2008, Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, a faith-based, not-for-profit financial services organization, announced one of the largest financial and volunteer commitments in Habitat El Salvador’s history—up to $1.3 million to help build a holistic, model community by the end of 2010. Thrivent Financial members travel from across the U.S. in volunteer teams to do much of the construction and work shoulder-to-shoulder with the future homeowner families. In less than one year, more than 150 Thrivent members and other Lutheran volunteers have already worked on the new community. “Villa Esperanza,” or “Hope Village,” will eventually contain 75 earthquake-resistant houses. Resident families will own their land and have access to basic physical services and social infrastructure, such as green areas, sidewalks and community buildings.

This agreement between Habitat El Salvador and Thrivent Financial to build an entire community together grew out of a $125 million alliance between Thrivent Financial for Lutherans and Habitat for Humanity International that was launched nearly four years ago. Thrivent members, Lutherans and other volunteers working through the “Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity” alliance have worked with hundreds of Habitat for Humanity affiliates to help construct more than 1,000 homes in the United States and hundreds more internationally since 2006. As a faith-based organization, Thrivent Financial encourages people to realize and share their abundance by helping to build decent housing for families in need.

“Habitat El Salvador has changed many lives—from the 7,000 Salvadoran families who now live in decent homes to the volunteers whose efforts have helped build them,” said Jonathan Reckford, chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity International. “Habitat’s alliance with Thrivent Financial for Lutherans has definitely boosted our efforts in El Salvador. The Thrivent Builds Worldwide program is making this new 75-home community possible, demonstrating our mission of helping families to move out of poverty, to gain assets and to thrive in a healthy environment where they can, in turn, help others.”

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In Santa Ana, El Salvador, Jonathan Reckford, chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity International and Brad Hewitt (left), chief operating officer of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, stand in front of the 7,000th house built by Habitat El Salvador. The new homeowner, Azucena Rosalva Mejía García, and her two daughters, Alexandra and Jaqueline, are proud to be one of the first of 75 families who will reside in Villa Esperanza, built by Habitat El Salvador and Thrivent Financial. Photo by Nelson Alejandro Fuentes Ruiz.

The construction was officially complete on the 7,000th Habitat house in El Salvador as the house keys were presented during the celebration to Azucena Rosalva Mejía García, a Salvadoran single mother and beauty salon owner, and her daughters—Alexandra, 6, and Jacqueline, 9. Minutes later, volunteers and organizational leaders laid the first blocks on Habitat El Salvador’s 7,001st home, located just one street away in Villa Esperanza.

“It was a moving experience to lay the first blocks for the 7,001st home alongside Jonathan Reckford and Brad Hewitt, chief operating officer of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. By doing so, we were laying the foundation for a home in this new Thrivent Builds Worldwide community, where Thrivent members have worked and will continue to contribute their time and energy,” said Jeff Hahn, senior director of the Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity Alliance Strategy Office.

The immediate start on the construction of the 7,001st home signifies that although building 7,000 homes is an incredible achievement, there is still more work to do to end the housing deficit.

See more photos from the event at https://www.thriventbuilds.com/newsroom/gallery/elsalvador_7000.html. To learn more, visit http://www.thriventbuilds.com/worldwide/elsalvador and watch the featured video about Villa Esperanza.

Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity is a $125 million alliance between Thrivent Financial for Lutherans and Habitat for Humanity International. The alliance makes Thrivent Financial one of Habitat’s largest allies and aims to increase Habitat’s annual house production by hundreds of homes per year. To date, more than 1,000 homes have been built in the U.S. and hundreds of volunteer teams have helped build homes around the world. For more information, visit www.thriventbuilds.com.

Thrivent Financial for Lutherans is a not-for-profit, Fortune 500 financial services membership organization helping approximately 2.6 million members achieve financial security and give back to their communities. Thrivent Financial and its affiliates offer a broad range of financial products and services, including life insurance, annuities, mutual funds, disability income insurance, bank products and more. As a not-for-profit organization, Thrivent Financial creates and supports national outreach programs and activities that help congregations, schools, charitable organizations and individuals in need. For more information, visit www.thrivent.com.

Habitat for Humanity International is an ecumenical Christian ministry that welcomes to its work all people dedicated to the cause of eliminating poverty housing. Since its founding in 1976, Habitat has built more than 300,000 houses worldwide, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for more than 1.5 million people. For more information, visit www.habitat.org.

Habitat for Humanity El Salvador is headquartered in San Salvador and supports the work of six regional offices. Habitat El Salvador began its labors in 1992 in the department of Santa Ana and has now provided 7,000 housing solutions, which have benefited more than 35,000 Salvadorans throughout the country. Approximately $32 million dollars have been invested in the national economy, generating 14,000 direct jobs and 56,000 indirect jobs. For more information, visit http://www.habitat.org/intl/lac/62.aspx.