By Carolyn Graf, Thrivent Build specialist and Habitat for Humanity volunteer
It was 2007. I couldn’t hit the head of a nail with a hammer. My youngest son Joe was an AmeriCorps member with Habitat for Humanity. I sometimes provided lunches, went to a dedication or took some pictures. Many times people said “come out and volunteer with us,” but I never did because I told them I couldn’t do anything. Finally, they talked me into it — and I loved it so much that I have been volunteering at least one day a week since.
A few months later, a Habitat staff member learned I was a Lutheran and, better yet, a Thrivent member. By that time, I was completely enthralled with working side by side with families and helping them have a decent home. I agreed to be a Thrivent Build specialist. I work with Ansel, another Thrivent Build specialist from another chapter who is a great mentor.
Not only have I learned carpentry and building skills from the foundation up, I have made wonderful friends. I previously have known Lutherans in my own church. Now I work with Lutherans from across the county here in Portland and the surrounding area who come together to support the Thrivent build with money and volunteer hours. We also include interested people from other denominations and people who have no church. It is a wonderful fellowship to come together to bring a family hope for their children’s better future.
It is such a miracle that Thrivent supports this work in my community and in other communities. This coming year, Thrivent funding will be going to other communities in need, but I am sure Ansel and I will continue to connect our local Lutherans to Habitat to build with families in need of homes. After a 40-year career in child welfare, rarely seeing the results of hard work, it is extremely gratifying to me to see the huge improvements in families’ lives every day that I work at Habitat.