In good times and bad, there are always needs to be met in the community. This past year, mortgage originators, lenders and vendors stepped up to give back to those in need. Their efforts ranged from helping veterans transition from a military career to one in real estate, planting thousands of trees in national parks, teaching children about financial literacy and giving them their first suits. Mortgage professionals gave time, money and heart over the past year to build better communities neighborhood by neighborhood. Below is a small sampling of the countless efforts that these professionals undertook.
Among its many community outreach efforts in 2022, United Wholesale Mortgage partnered with Pine Knob Music Theatre in Clarkston, Michigan. Pine Knob Music Theatre is continually ranked among the top amphitheaters in the world and is a preferred venue for many of the nation’s top touring acts. Ranked No. 1 in the world in Pollstar’s 2019 year-end rankings, the venue plays host to world-class entertainment events, concerts, comedy and family shows, and community functions. The music theater, formerly known as DTE Energy Music Theatre, celebrated its 50th anniversary with a summer concert series.
United Wholesale Mortgage
Title Alliance previously supported Feeding America and DomesticShelters.org, and it remains committed to supporting communities through monetary and volunteer efforts. This past April, the title insurance and escrow group of companies hosted a month-long fundraiser to support Alex’s Lemonade Stand, which generates money for research to fight childhood cancer. Employees, family and friends were challenged to suck on a lemon for 30 seconds to bring awareness to the cause or make a donation. The event raised $9,590 for the cause.
In the first half of this year, the Birmingham, Alabama, branch of Hometown Lenders sponsored a Habitat for Humanity home and also adopted El Rosario, a village in Guatemala. Branch managers Thomas Dickinson and Craig Jemison took the initiative on the charitable efforts, but the entire office participated in both endeavors. Mortgage originator Ron Gofourth has traveled three times on mission trips to Guatemala.
National mortgage lender and servicer Planet Home Lending has renewed for a fourth year its partnership with the National Forest Foundation, the official nonprofit partner of the U.S. Forest Service. Planet Home Lending will fund the planting of 100,000 trees in the following national forests: Arapaho and Roosevelt in Colorado; Francis Marion and Sumter in South Carolina; and Chippewa in Minnesota. The restoration projects will include wildfire recovery and native habitat restoration for endangered species. Through the partnership, Planet Home Lending has funded the planting of more than 250,000 trees in America’s national forests.
Mortgage data and technology company FormFree raised $54,705 for the American Red Cross of Northeast Georgia at its third annual Heroes Golf Classic. The charity golf tournament took place Sept. 9, 2022, and raised money for local blood drives, humanitarian aid and educational programs. Last year, FormFree was named as the chapter’s 2021 Corporate Blood Sponsor of the Year for its consistent support. Although the golf tourney is its largest annual fundraiser, FormFree supports the Red Cross year-round with in-office blood drives and employee volunteer work.
In May 2022, national lender Homespire Mortgage announced a $20,000 donation to World Central Kitchen (WCK) to provide meals to refugees and those impacted by the war in Ukraine. WCK, a nonprofit founded by celebrity chef Jose Andres, has provided more than 100 million meals to Ukrainian refugees across Europe. Homespire’s donation was made possible by the lender’s new health and wellness campaign, Homespire MOVE. The campaign is part of the company’s larger social initiative, Inspired to Impact, which is focused on corporate giving, fundraising and volunteerism.
The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) Opens Doors Foundation announced this past summer that more than 10,000 families have received mortgage and rental assistance since the 2012 launch of its Home Grant. The foundation provides mortgage and rental assistance to families with critically ill or injured children, allowing parents and guardians to stay at a child’s side during treatment without fear of jeopardizing their home. Families in all 50 states, Guam and the District of Columbia have received more than $17 million in housing assistance. The foundation works with 13 children’s hospitals in eight states across the country. Additionally, more than $187,000 was raised for the Opens Doors Foundation at the MBA’s Chairman’s Conference this past summer. Pulte Cares, the charitable arm of the Atlanta-based residential construction company PulteGroup, presented the foundation with a $75,000 gift.
New Jersey-based Family First Funding partnered from late 2021 through mid-2022 with Courtyard Mentor Network, a group that supports adolescent boys in Philadelphia. The program offers career and life goals and aims to prepare kids for real-world success. Family First originators and executives offered financial literacy and education, and provided the youths with custom-fitted suits by world-renowned tailor Michael Singh, who volunteered his time for the fittings. The boys were taken to Lark Restaurant outside of Philadelphia for an upscale dinner, suit reveal and celebration of the program. Family First provided a donation and company employees raised funds through their social networks. The company also packaged together school supplies this past September. The supplies were handed out to children at Zebulun Jesus is Lord Barbershop in Toms River, New Jersey. Family First also picked up the cost of the children’s haircuts during the event.
Family First Funding
UMortgage, based in Philadelphia, hosted a series of online financial literacy courses this past spring as part of Financial Literacy Month, a nationally recognized campaign that aims to bring awareness to the need for more financial education in schools and for adults. UMortgage hosted four sessions per day, covering a broad range of topics that included investing, student loans and designing a career with money in mind. The program was accessible to people of all ages and in every state.
In observance of National Military Appreciation Month this past May, CrossCountry Mortgage launched a variety of initiatives to honor current and former members of the U.S. military. The company awarded $10,000 to a veteran in northeast Ohio to be used for a mortgage, and it gave $500 apiece to eight other military members. CrossCountry joined with the NFL’s Cleveland Browns to reunite a military mom with her family in a surprise at the Browns’ CrossCountry Mortgage Campus in Berea, Ohio. Last year, CrossCountry donated $100,000 to the high school alma mater of fallen hero Maxton W. Soviak, who was killed while serving in Afghanistan. The gift was presented during the Browns’ “Salute to Service” game. The company also gave hundreds of tickets for sporting events to military members and their families.
Planet Financial Group, based in Meriden, Connecticut, donated $100,000 to The Farmlink Project, a nonprofit, grassroots movement that connects surplus produce to communities in need, reduces carbon emissions and empowers the next generation of young changemakers. The Farmlink Project connects farmers to food banks, delivering millions of pounds of farm-fresh produce that would otherwise be wasted to feed families in need. Through its Carbonlink program, the nonprofit supports comprehensive carbon-offset projects that counteract emissions from the global food system. According to Nature Food, a food research journal, food systems produce 34% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Planet Financial Group employees also volunteered at Farmlink initiatives in Irving, Texas; Columbia, Maryland; and Rochester, New York.
Vylla Home, the nationwide real estate brokerage of Carrington Holding Co., this past year introduced the Military to Real Estate Career Professional Program. The program provides veterans who are transitioning from military service with support to start a real estate career. Carrington and its nonprofit wing, the Carrington Charitable Foundation, have long been committed to veteran causes, including building homes for catastrophically injured vets and their families, and supporting veteran-focused nonprofits such as the Veterans Airlift Command and the Travis Mills Foundation.
Down Payment Resource, a nationwide database of homebuyer assistance programs, announced that Ruth Johnson, founder and CEO of Homes for Heroes, was selected as the winner of its fourth annual Beverly Faull Affordable Housing Leadership Award. Each year, the Beverly Faull award recognizes an individual or organization that has demonstrated outstanding leadership in broadening access to homeownership and affordable housing finance solutions. Each year, Down Payment Resource makes a financial donation to the recipient’s housing nonprofit of choice. Johnson requested the donation be made to the Homes for Heroes Foundation.
Down Payment Resource
The Rhode Island Mortgage Bankers Association awarded $1,000 scholarships to two students this past summer: Noah Medina, attending Johns Hopkins University, and Bridget Mohan, attending Sacred Heart University. To be eligible, students must be a high school senior or have at least one year of college left, and they must be a child or grandchild of an employee at an Rhode Island Mortgage Bankers Association member organization. To be considered, students must fill out an application, submit an essay and be a resident of Rhode Island.
This past summer, hundreds of Synchrony employees volunteered in a hands-on community service initiative in collaboration with Prince George’s County Public Schools and nonprofit Volunteer Fairfax in Washington, D.C. The groups assembled 10,000 backpacks full of school supplies, which were distributed prior to the school year. Synchrony Foundation president Denise Yap also presented the Prince George’s superintendent with a $10,000 grant to support local schools. Synchrony is a financial-services company based in Stamford, Connecticut.
Mortgage Capital Trading, a San Diego-based capital-markets software and services company, donated more than $30,000 over the past year to a variety of charities across the country. Company employees also donated their time and effort to various groups. Benefiting charities included the ALS Association Orange County Chapter; the American Jewish Committee; the American Red Cross; the Charcot-Marie-Tooth Association; Join the Flock; the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society; The Mann Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia; the Michigan First Foundation; the Silverton Foundation in Atlanta; and the Pan-Mass Challenge, which raises funds for cancer research and treatment at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Mortgage originator Mark S. Fisher of UNMB Home Loans Inc. in New York state continued an annual tradition called “Christmas at the Pound” to support animals at the Mt. Vernon Animal Shelter. He and others packed a truck with food, toys and treats for the animals. This was the 11th year that Fisher helped lead the volunteer effort.
Mark S. Fisher, UNMB
National lender Fairway Independent Mortgage Corp. remains committed to an extensive set of causes. In 2021, the Fairway Cares nonprofit delivered 2,400 care packages for those who have faced critical illness, sustained physical trauma or the loss of a loved one, and delivered 200 care packages to front-line medical professionals treating COVID-19 patients. Also in 2021, Fairway nonprofit American Warrior Initiative (AWI) provided 101 service dogs to veterans, doubling the previous year’s donation. AWI also provided 380 gift cards to veterans and military families, including 150 $100 gift cards for military children last Christmas.
Scotsman Guide employees donated 2,096 pounds of food in November 2021 to the Maltby Food Bank in Snohomish, Washington. The employees divided into competitive teams to see who could bring in the most donations. Publications production manager Julie Murphy and human resources manager Dawn Hampton realized that the food bank didn’t have enough people when the donations were picked up, so they drove there and helped unload the food. Another food drive at the fintech and media company is planned for November 2022.