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Blackduck and Bagley families selected for Habitat homes

Northwoods Habitat for Humanity has completed the family selection process for homes funded by Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity, a program that will change the lives of more than 300 families this year.

Patrick Weidel in Blackduck and Kristie Harmon and her daughters Kendrah, Kaitlyn & Gabriella in Bagley recently learned they have been selected to work on and purchase a Thrivent Builds with Northwoods Habitat for Humanity home.

Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity is a $125 million alliance between Habitat for Humanity International and Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. This initiative will provide 65 percent of the construction costs of these homes. Area Thrivent chapters and Lutheran congregations will raise an additional 10 percent, while Northwoods Habitat for Humanity will fund the remaining 25 percent.

Recipients are chosen based on their need for decent housing, their ability to repay a no-profit zero-interest mortgage and their willingness to help build their home or other Habitat for Humanity homes. Each person chosen must commit to 250 hours of sweat equity for their home.

Because partnering with Habitat is a life-changing experience, selected people are often overwhelmed when told the good news.

"I was excited to learn I was chosen and I can hardly wait to get started on my sweat equity hours," Weidel said. "Having a safe, affordable home is a dream come true."

While Northwoods Habitat will build two Thrivent Builds homes this year, other Habitat affiliates in 37 states will build hundreds more homes for a total of as many as 314 homes in 2009.

"This alliance has allowed us to continue to increase our building efforts," said Geri Hickerson, Northwoods Habitat executive director. With the expansion of our service area last spring, which includes all of Beltrami and Clearwater counties, we are able to work in neighboring communities to build simple, decent, affordable homes to an even broader area. We look forward to working with community members as we build the first Habitat home in Blackduck and Bagley."

Thrivent Builds has built five homes in Bemidji. Thanks to its 2.6 million members who own financial products with the organization, Thrivent Financial for Lutherans is able to contribute to the improvement of communities like Blackduck and Bagley. The Thrivent Builds alliance also engages volunteers -- members of Thrivent Financial, area churches and the community at large -- to work alongside partner families to build these homes.

"We are excited that these communities will have an opportunity to work on these homes," said Bonnie Jevning, a Thrivent Builds specialist for the Beltrami County Thrivent Board. "When construction starts in June, we will need people to volunteer on the construction of the home as well as people to help serve lunches for the construction crew. We will be working Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and we hope to see a great turnout at the sites this summer when construction starts."

Anyone who would like to donate funds or volunteer to help on these homes should contact Jevning at 751-3118 or 766-9264 or Jonette Anderson at 218-835-4453 or 766-3823.