15 Aug Why I give. A personal perspective.
I grew up the oldest of three children in a home in suburban New Jersey. We had a driveway, a lawn, and a fenced in backyard. We each had our own bedroom, and a finished basement where the three of us played together daily. We lived around the corner from our elementary and middle schools, which we walked to and from every day, often without our parents. Both of our parents worked, and both of them had their own car. We weren’t rich. We weren’t wealthy. But from a young age, I knew we were privileged and lucky to have all we did, and I never took that for granted.
I was first exposed to homeownership and affordable housing through my college internship. I reported directly to the property manager of the nearby affordable housing agency, which enabled me to meet the tenants who were living in the properties owned and maintained by the nonprofit organization. On a regular day, I was able to meet the families whose lives were changed by the organization I was interning for, and in turn, it changed my life. The pride they felt when they opened the door to their home, and welcomed us into their living rooms for our meetings was palpable. It was so gratifying to be exposed to that level of pride and joy that each of the families took in welcoming us into their space, and I wanted that feeling to last forever.
As an adult, I pursued a career in nonprofit fundraising and have had the privilege of working with a variety of organizations, addressing critical needs in our communities from education, to healthcare, to social justice, and so much more. Yet, my heart was still longing to give back to the community through homeownership and affordable housing. This is how I came to find the Housing Partnership of New Jersey.
With a core staff of only five, the Housing Partnership has helped over 1,000 families make their dreams of homeownership a reality. HPNJ hosts regular seminars on step-by-step homeownership (in both English and Spanish), and guides its participants through the course of saving for, purchasing, and maintaining a home. HPNJ goes a step even further beyond its group classes and seminars, providing free one-on-one financial counseling for those who complete the step-by-step program. This is a true testament to the Housing Partnership’s mission of “Strengthening communities by creating lasting and responsible homeownership through education and financial coaching” and its vision of “Financially secure homeowners residing in stable communities.”
What I admire most about the Housing Partnership is that it truly empowers members of the community to make their dreams a reality. It provides a plan and a pathway, with attainable goals and the necessary support along the way to help fulfil and exceed them. True to the organization’s mission, home buyers who purchase their homes through the Housing Partnership have invested over $99 million into their local economies to date – and this number will continue to climb as they help more families. Data, numbers, stats, and figures are great in demonstrating the impact an organization has on the community, but what best tells the story is the accounts of the people who the Housing Partnership has empowered.
My inspiration comes from people like Rosario, a client of the Housing Partnership. In 2005, as a low-income resident, she purchased her first unit through the Housing Partnership. Years later, she wrote to the organization to share with them that she just closed on her new home – a fair market value home in a township that was recently ranked in the top four places to live in New Jersey. This is just one of the many stories of empowerment and upward mobility experienced by the clients of the Housing Partnership.
I give to the Housing Partnership because it truly makes dreams come true. Not by simply granting wishes, but by providing resources and support to guide its clients through the process of establishing a savings plan, navigating the intricacies of purchasing a home, and remaining a steadfast support through the ups and downs of homeownership. HPNJ is making our communities a better place, with happier citizens, by putting the power in their hands and enabling them to control their own destiny. It is truly amazing, and I am so grateful to witness these dreams come true on a regular basis through the work the Housing Partnership does.
I give because I was given, and to whom much is given, much is expected.