A foreclosed property on Tiffany Drive. Breakfast at the Hilton. A first-time home buyer named “Tiffany.” What could these disparate things possibly have in common? Thereby hangs a tale.
When the real estate bubble burst, many homes went into foreclosure. One of those is located on Tiffany Drive in Wilmington. It is a cute three-bedroom house with a large back yard, backing up on a creek and sporting a magnolia tree big enough to put a picnic table under. It could have sat empty for a few years, losing value and bringing down the quality of life in the neighborhood. Instead, Bank of America (BOA) donated the property to Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity.
On April 1st, Habitat staff and volunteers begin renovations on the fifteen year old house, making it “like new” and bringing it up to current energy efficiency standards. The volunteers include the future homeowner and staff from BOA’s local branches. By the end of May, the first-time home buyer will move in, and a house that had been a dark symbol of a faltering economy will be transformed back into the vibrant part of the community that it was meant to be. This summer, people will again gather in the shade of that magnolia tree to enjoy a cool breeze in the evening. Thanks to down payment assistance provided through the City of Wilmington and the zero percent interest mortgage underwritten by Habitat, another family will enjoy safe, decent, and affordable housing for the next thirty years.
Also on April 1st, Habitat hosts its annual “Golden Hammer” breakfast at the Hilton Hotel. In between bites of scrambled eggs, attendees hear from Habitat homeowners and volunteers, and from some of the many members of the business, faith, and civic communities who support the creation of affordable housing. They’ll get to hear stories about the folks who attain home ownership through the Habitat program, in their own words. The typical homeowner is a lot like “Tiffany,” a single mother with three children who works two jobs. She’s determined, self-reliant, and has a sense of humor. (“It’s better than having two kids and three jobs!”)
Of course, the “Golden Hammer” breakfast is also an opportunity to raise funds and to forge vital partnerships, like the one between Habitat and BoA that led to the reclamation of the home on Tiffany Drive. The best partnerships that I have been involved in draw on the varied resources of businesses, nonprofits, government, and individuals. Together, we can create so much more than is possible when we act on our own.
In the movie, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” Audrey Hepburn’s character Holly Golightly says: “I don't want to own anything until I find a place where me and things go together. I'm not sure where that is but I know what it is like. It's like Tiffany's.”
Steve Spain is the Executive Director of Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity. Over the last 25 years, CFHFH has provided first-time homeownership opportunities to over 150 families and currently builds a dozen new houses a year. To explore volunteer or sponsorship opportunities or to learn more about Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity’s programs, visit www.capefearhabitat.org. Contact Mr. Spain at [email protected]. Like CFHFH on Facebook: www.facebook.com/capefearhabitat.
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