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Kaua‘i Habitat for Humanity volunteers raise walls in Waimea

WAIMEA — Monday was an exciting day for Kaua‘i Habitat for Humanity home buyer Keala Pi‘imanu, who hand-carried cups of water to Thrivent volunteers raising the walls of the first homes being built at the 32-single-family-home Huakai project.

“Wall-raisings are always exciting,” Pi‘imanu said. “We were told a home takes about nine months before we can move in. In the meantime, we were told to take care of the volunteers because we’re not allowed to work with power tools until November.”

Thirty-eight volunteers from Thrivent showed up to work at the Waimea housing project, and had the honor of raising the first walls in the rapidly warming Westside sunshine.

“These are all Thrivent financial advisors who win incentive trips,” said Tom Edelen of Minnesota, one of the Thrivent team leaders. “They could be in Italy, or Canada, or anywhere else, but they chose to come build houses on Kaua‘i. They could be staying at 5-star resorts, but come to raise walls and do whatever is involved in building homes.”

Edelen said this is not the first Thrivent group that’s visited Kaua‘i to build houses.

“We’ve been here before with other financial advisors and volunteers,” he said. “Thrivent has a long, 17-year relationship with Habitat for Humanity. We’ve sent groups to Kaua‘i from before the COVID-19 pandemic. This trip, we have 38 people this week, and another group of 37 people coming in Monday.”

David Bieker of Kaua‘i Habitat for Humanity said they hosted another group from Rent-A-Center last week that worked with a Kaua‘i Habitat for Humanity homeowner on the last three homes in the ‘Ele‘ele Iluna neighborhood. The completion of these homes marks the end of building 107 homes there.

“On Oct. 12, a dozen volunteers — all employees of Rent-A-Center — came from the Big Island, Maui, O‘ahu and Kaua‘i to do something good for the community as part of their 11-store Rent-A-Center Cares program,” Bieker said. “In addition to supplying volunteer labor, the Rent-A-Center program donated $10,000 to the Kaua‘i Habitat for Humanity.”

Following the day’s work that included soffit work, caulking and window installation, Rent-A-Center District Manager Donna Leanio said some of the team members are suggesting they do it again, and more frequently.

Bieker said Kaua‘i Habitat for Humanity always welcomes both visiting and local volunteer groups in their TeamBuild program that is a great way to give back to the community while providing a team-building experience.

For more information, or to schedule a team build, call Nicole Pacanas at 808-335-0296, ext. 1013, or email

Since 1992, Kaua‘i Habitat for Humanity has built 228 affordable homes and made critical repairs to 37 existing homes for Kaua‘i families whose household income is between 30 to 80 percent of the median Kaua‘i income.

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 808-245-0453 or
Source: The Garden Island

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