Submitted photo
Kailee Bjerke, a Spring Grove alumnae, spent two weeks with her father, Tom, in Thailand building homes. She is shown laying bricks for a home’s outside walls.
Submitted photo Kailee Bjerke, a Spring Grove alumnae, spent two weeks with her father, Tom, in Thailand building homes. She is shown laying bricks for a home’s outside walls.
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Working shoulder to shoulder with his team members and local volunteers in Thailand, Thrivent Financial’s Tom Bjerke of Brownsville and his daughter, Kailee, recently returned from a service mission in Krabi, Thailand.

Bjerke was building homes for and with the local population as part of a weeklong trip with the Thrivent Builds Worldwide program, a partnership between Thrivent Financial and Habitat for Humanity International.

Bjerke was one of 13 financial representatives who attended the weeklong trip. The representatives were selected to participate in the trip because of their strong commitment to helping Thrivent members be wise with money in the past year.

Bjerke is being recognized for his outstanding service to members and their families.

“It was a remarkable experience,” said Bjerke. “The people of Thailand were very warm and welcoming. This trip was an incredible way to give back and be generous in a different setting.”

He added, “It was a remarkable two weeks for my daughter, Kailee, and I getting to know Thailand. What a beautiful, historic and wonderful place filled with kind and generous people.

“We came into Thailand as strangers and left as friends to the families and villagers at the Habitat Build sites. We spent the week building two homes in very hot and humid conditions, but it was so worth it when we dedicated the homes to the families.

“We could see and feel the emotions and appreciation they had for us. Kailee made so many new friends with the local kids and enjoyed playing games with them on our breaks.

“It was truly a life changing experience for both of us knowing that we changed two families lives for the better. I will always remember the father of one of the families telling us that he has been trying to give his family a proper house to live in for over 20 years, and now his dream has come true thanks to us. We are very blessed to be able to be part of this amazing once in a lifetime trip.”

More about Thailand

Since the 1980s, Thailand has achieved remarkable progress in economic growth and poverty reduction. According to World Bank, rising incomes have helped Thailand to reduce poverty significantly from 67 percent in 1986 to 11 percent in 2014.

More than 80 percent of the country’s 7.3 million poor live in rural areas although a third of the poor are currently in urban areas outside of Bangkok.

Increased urbanization, coupled with insufficient planning, has contributed to the creation of slums, particularly in the Bangkok metropolitan region, which accounts for a majority of the slum settlements in Thailand.

About Thrivent Builds program

Thrivent Financial, through Thrivent Builds Worldwide, has committed to sending teams all over the world in order to improve local communities and help affect a positive change.

Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity is a multi-year, multi-million dollar partnership between Thrivent Financial and Habitat for Humanity International.

Thrivent Builds is designed to involve Thrivent Financial members in helping provide a “hand up” to people who lack decent shelter, offering them a path to greater economic independence.

Excluding government funding, Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity is Habitat’s largest single source of funding, committing over $240 million through 2017 and constructing or repairing nearly 5,000 homes in the U.S. and around the world since 2005. For more information visit www.thriventbuilds.com.