Steven Bond views life from a different perspective after working side-by-side with Salvadoran families during an April/May Thrivent Builds Worldwide trip. Steven Bond fully expected to work hard building homes and changing the lives of Salvadoran families. While these expectations were met, it came as a surprise that he was also personally and strongly impacted by the experience.
“I went on this international volunteer trip to help others, but I, too, was blessed,” Bond said. “Service brings out the best in us—that’s the beauty in volunteering. You get the focus off yourself.”
Bond, a Thrivent Financial Associate serving Christians and their family members in Kutztown, traveled to El Salvador with 27 other Thrivent Financial representatives and employees from across the United States. Bond was selected to represent his colleagues from the Pennsylvania Region on this team because he demonstrated notable performance, passion for volunteering with members, and drive to help people become financially secure. Unlike regular days at the office helping people with their financial security, the Thrivent Financial representatives put a new twist on their role in El Salvador painting, carrying dirt and rock, mixing cement, and digging trenches to help enable families to afford to buy a safe, new home.
From April 26 – May 4, 2014, the team helped construct homes in a community called “Getsemani.” This neighborhood development includes earthquake-resistant housing and offers families basic services and social infrastructure such as green areas and a community center. Thrivent Financial is committed to sending 40 volunteer teams in 2014 to support the mission of Habitat for Humanity El Salvador and has encouraged hundreds of Thrivent members to volunteer in El Salvador to help make this dream a reality. As a fraternal benefit society, a unique type of not-for-profit membership organization, Thrivent Financial focuses on both financial security as well as caring for others. This program is one example of how Thrivent Financial and its members work together to help people.
As the homes were built, relationships grew with the local Salvadorans. The team enjoyed building with local Salvadoran volunteers, as well as with the Habitat El Salvador partner families who will live in this community. These Salvadoran families have to apply for and purchase the Habitat houses, just like in the United States, and put in sweat equity before they can move in.
“Nearly half of the population of El Salvador lives in substandard housing, and by our American standards, the Salvadorans have very little,” said Bond. “Despite having few worldly possessions, the Salvadorans I met displayed a wealth of spirit, love and generosity.”
This team of volunteers also had the opportunity to put down their work gloves and enjoy some free time attending a Lutheran church service, interacting with local children and community residents and learning Salvadoran culture and customs.
The nine-day experience in Central America invigorated Bond, and he plans to share this experience with as many people as possible to raise awareness of the burden of poverty housing and encourage others to get involved in similar service work. Thrivent Builds Worldwide works in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity around the world.
“There was great satisfaction in helping families build one of the most basic human needs—a roof over their heads,” said Bond.
To learn more, visit www.thriventbuilds.com/worldwide and read the 2014 team blog at http://thriventbuildsfrap2014.wordpress.com/.