Residential Magazine

Good Works

The mortgage industry gives back to its communities

By Jim Davis

Mortgage lenders, originators and the vendors that serve them donated time and money to charitable efforts across the country during the past year. These causes include the training of service dogs for veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder; the purchasing of thousands of dollars of food from restaurants struggling during the coronavirus pandemic; the donation of meals to homeless shelters; and help for young adults who are transitioning from the foster system to live on their own for the first time.

As the country continues to deal with the COVID-19 health crisis, Scotsman Guide is highlighting some of the ways that the mortgage industry is giving back to its communities. Below is a sampling of these efforts.

Axos Bank donated $250,000 to help police officers purchase homes in the city of San Diego, one of the most expensive real estate markets in the nation. The gift by the San Diego-headquartered company, donated in November 2020, supports a public-private partnership between the city of San Diego and the National Asian American Coalition. Qualified San Diego police officers can receive up to $50,000 through a downpayment-assistance program in the form of a five-year, no-interest loan that they can put toward the cost of purchasing a home.

Carrington Charitable Foundation (CCF) is the nonprofit affiliated with Carrington Mortgage Holdings. In September 2019, CCF introduced a Round Up program for Carrington Mortgage Services clients, which provides borrowers with an easy way to support the foundation’s work across America. Borrowers can round up their monthly mortgage payment to the nearest dollar, with the additional amounts being donated to the nonprofit. As of this past August, the company announced it had raised more than $200,000 for veteran initiatives.

Fairway Independent Mortgage Corp. and the Milwaukee Brewers partnered to donate a service dog to U.S. Army veteran Andrew Sievila through the American Warrior Initiative. Sievila, who joined the Army in 2004 and served in Iraq from 2006 to 2007, was medically discharged from service and diagnosed with PTSD in 2015. Sievila reported that feelings of isolation and depression have dissipated since receiving his service dog, a golden retriever named Willard. Fairway founded the nonprofit American Warrior Initiative in 2015 to help fund local branch efforts to aid deserving veterans. Fairway plans to fund the training for 100 service dogs in 2021.

The Guaranteed Rate Foundation was founded in 2012 by mortgage company Guaranteed Rate and has successfully granted more than $5 million to some 1,500 individuals. The foundation offered $1.3 million in assistance in 2020. This year, the foundation has helped those affected by the pandemic as well as domestic violence, homelessness, medical emergencies, disabilities and the unexpected loss of loved ones. The company and its donors cover all of the foundation’s overhead expenses, meaning every penny of every dollar contributed goes directly to those who need it most.

Homespire Mortgage aimed to collect one ton of nonperishable food donations during this year’s Homespire CAN food drive for local nonprofits and companies. The mortgage lender beat this goal as it collected 7,211 pounds of food, which equates to 6,009 meals, according to nonprofit Feeding America. The companywide food drive included 21 participating branches and more than 70 food banks across the country receiving donations.

Loan Vision raised more than $35,000 for JDRF, a worldwide nonprofit researching a cure and treatment for Type 1 diabetes. The mortgage accounting software company based in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, raised the money through donations. Loan Vision promoted the charity on its own website, attended events, created learning opportunities and competed internally during the JDRF Virtual One Walk. 

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Mortgage lender NewRez supported Toys for Tots by donating one toy for every loan closed at all of the company’s branches in November and December 2020. In total, the company donated more than $500,000 worth of toys to the nonprofit run by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, which distributes toys at Christmas to children from low-income families. Employees and borrowers helped about 18,000 children across the country.

Employees at mortgage broker O Capital Group LLC in Mesa, Arizona, do regular service projects. One of their top projects took place this past June when employees came together to pack 18,576 meals for Feed My Starving Children. The packs are designed to provide a meal a day for 50 children for a year.

Paramount Residential Mortgage Group, through its PRMG Cares effort and in partnership with the American Red Cross, organized a blood drive at its headquarters in Corona, California. PRMG has organized other blood drives in past years, but the need was greater this year as the pandemic has caused many blood drives across the country to be scaled back or cancelled altogether.

The Utah branch of Peoples Mortgage held its first ChariTEE Golf Tournament in Lehi, Utah, this past May as part of its Lenders Lending a Hand initiative. The mortgage lender collected 1,000-plus cans of food, weighing more than 700 pounds, for the Utah Food Bank based in Salt Lake City.

Plaza Home Mortgage sponsored Just in Time for Foster Youth (JIT), a San Diego-based organization dedicated to helping foster children between the ages of 18 to 26 achieve independence and self-sufficiency. The wholesale and correspondent lender headquartered in San Diego served as a silver sponsor of JIT’s Empower Walk the Talk fundraiser, held virtually this past summer. Plaza also organized a My First Home Mini Drive that raised donations of cash and home goods (furniture, appliances, etc.) to help young adults transition out of the foster system.

Scotsman Guide Inc. collected more than one ton of canned food and other food items from employees and company ownership during its annual food drive in late 2020. The company donated the food to Northwest Harvest, a nonprofit that supports food banks throughout Washington state. The goal of the food drive was to make a difference in the lives of those who are struggling right now.

James Carmody, branch manager for Synergy One Lending in San Diego, donated 10% of his monthly profits ($6,000 a month on average) over the past year to Support the Enlisted Project (STEP). This program builds financial self-sufficiency among junior active-duty enlisted members and recently discharged enlisted veterans. Carmody and his team also volunteered several times for activities to support STEP, including a Christmas tree giveaway and a family holiday event.

An annual personal-care drive held this past May by TopLine Federal Credit Union benefited three Minnesota nonprofits: Avenues for Youth, Keystone Community Services and Union Gospel Mission Twin Cities. Employees of the Twin Cities-based credit union donated a variety of personal-care items, including body wash and soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes, diapers and hair-care products. Altogether, TopLine employees and members donated more than 1,100 items and nearly $600 in cash to assist local individuals and families in need.

United Wholesale Mortgage (UWM) created a local support campaign focused on helping restaurants in the Detroit metropolitan area that have been hurt by the COVID-19 crisis and donating the meals to local homeless shelters. The mortgage lender purchased up to $2,000 a day worth of food from January through March of this year and donated it to local homeless shelters. In all, UWM purchased more than $120,000 worth of food from 67 restaurants, serving nearly 10,000 meals.

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