Neighbors Helping Neighbors
For John and Charis Richardson, who have two young children under the age of four and a third on the way, having a home of their very own can’t come a moment too soon. The first-time homebuyers look forward to more permanent—and personal—housing for their growing family. “Other places we have lived have felt comfortable, but they did not feel like they were ours. We want to be able to do the things we want to do like decorating, having a garden, and all the liberties that come with a place that is yours," said thirty-year-old Charis Richardson.
The Richardson’s dreams finally became a reality when they found a place on Cambria Street in Christiansburg to make their own. However, the condition of the house was far from desirable. The four-bedroom home, which had fallen into foreclosure and was purchased by CHP for rehabilitation and resale to a moderate-income family, was going need to some work.
Fortunately for the Richardsons, Freedom First Credit Union employees joined the staff of CHP Realty and CHP Homeownership Center for a day of patching, painting, scrubbing, cleaning, landscaping, removing debris, installing porch hand rails, and more as they helped prepare the home for its soon-to-be-owners.
The couple, who was also on hand today to contribute sweat equity hours toward the home’s renovation, will officially purchase the house after all rehab work is completed. The Richardsons were also required to participate in CHP’s homebuyer education classes and meet specific income requirements.
“It really means a lot to have everyone come out and work on the house today,” Charis Richardson remarked. “Some days I have not been feeling well because of the pregnancy and my husband has been working overtime, so we haven’t been able to do as much as we wanted up to this point. We really appreciate all the help.” According to Richardson, her family will be able to use money that they would have spent on the projects knocked out today on other essentials like updating the house’s mechanical systems and windows.
James Cabler, Freedom First’s vice president of Blacksburg markets, explained that the volunteer activities are a part of the credit union’s mission to help communities thrive. “Being able to participate in a service project like the one we worked on in Christiansburg is a meaningful opportunity to help a truly deserving family prepare their home for move in. It really feels like we are accomplishing something.”
Ryan Stenger, senior homeownership advisor with CHP Homeownership Center, agreed that working together as a team to help transform a neglected house into a clean and attractive home “is very special.” He added, “This is what CHP is all about—creating sustainable and affordable homeownership opportunities for our neighbors. Today was exceptionally rewarding because were able to harness the power of community to make a noticeable difference in the lives of our fellow community members in just one day.”
The volunteer in Christiansburg worked was initiated by Freedom First Credit Union in honor of Columbus Day. Additional Freedom First employees took part in 15 other community service projects in Franklin, Craig, Montgomery, Botetourt, and Roanoke counties, as well as the cities of Roanoke and Salem.