A Sense of Belonging

I’ve mentioned in the past that I am a joiner. Perhaps that is simply because I am a ‘people’ person. I enjoy being around other humans… even if we don’t share the same political and religious beliefs. I have no problem accepting people – even if their thoughts are absolutely ridiculous – but have problems with those who have problems accepting my beliefs.

Seriously, if I find myself in total disagreement with others, I simply try to keep my thoughts to myself.

In any case, I still like to belong to various groups – especially those whose sole purpose is to benefit others. That’s why I’m proud to be a board member of our local Thrivent chapter.

For the uninitiated, Thrivent is a Lutheran organization that, in many ways, is similar to the Knights of Columbus.

The Knights were originally formed by a priest who saw his church getting into deep financial trouble trying to support the widows of the parish. He rightfully believed that an organization for men could accomplish two goals.

One, it would give the men a social outlet and keep them out of serious trouble. Two – and much more importantly – it could provide the beginnings of a financial institution that could offer life insurance to men so that their widows would not have to rely on the church for handouts.

Over the years, the Knights of Columbus has grown to be a tremendously profitable organization. However, it maintains its non-profit (and tax exempt) status by donating its profits to charity.

Thrivent is the Lutheran equivalent, with one basic exception. There are no social halls. Lutheran men must find other ways to stay out of serious trouble.

Thrivent has two types of products for sale. Risk products and investments.

Risk products are insurance policies. These would include life, accidental death, and long term disability products.

The investment products include mutual funds and annuities.

Profits from the investment products are returned to the individual investors. Last year, Thrivent was like many other financial institutions in that it didn’t have much in the way of capital gains to return to the investors. However, since it did not invest heavily in the mortgage market, its losses were far less than many other companies.

Profits from the risk products go in one of two directions. First, a certain amount must go into very safe investments and be considered a ‘surplus’ fund. Insurance claims are paid out of this surplus.

Any remaining profits are distributed among the local chapters throughout the Lutheran world. Last year, our chapter was given approximately fifteen thousand dollars to split among three churches.

With the money we received, we were able to supplement various fund-raising activities. In the end, we donated money to the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, Habitat for Humanity, Forsyth County’s “Hands Across Forsyth”, CASA, and many other worthwhile projects.

I know of very few companies that give back to the community as much as Thrivent does. Therefore, I’m adding them to my “triple A” list of good people to deal with. If you’re in the market for insurance, or looking for a place to make some investments, check out Thrivent.

Your dollars can have a double whammy effect. They can hook you up with a good insurance policy or investment, and they can help fund a number of worthwhile charities.

Feel free to click on the link to the right.

By the way, a good friend is encouraging me to join the Optimist Club. Anyone have any advice in that regard?

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