In times of turmoil, it’s common to see a Mr. Rogers quote circulating the internet, encouraging us to “Look for the helpers.” Fortunately, in the midst of uncertainty, many in the housing industry are stepping up and continuing to push forward to help their communities despite the hurdles they may face at home and in the home office. It’s not surprising that that housing industry – whose primary goal is to place people in homes – would take pride in volunteering time and resources to support the communities that those homes make up.
In this supplement, we spotlight those companies within the housing industry who have made it a priority – in good times and bad – to focus on giving back. Each of these companies has found their own unique ways to give back, whether with industry expertise, time or financial resources, they have found ways to use their strengths to better communities they live in.
“Our Foundation is the center of our culture here at CMG,” said Nadine Flaherty, CMG Financial events manager and executive assistant to company President and CEO Chris George. “The reason I volunteer and support our foundation is because people need help, we can’t do it alone. When your company has a foundation that significantly impacts other people’s lives it brings everyone together and everyone is excited to be a part of helping, supporting and giving back to those who so deservingly need our support.”
The CMG Foundation, founded by George, was born out of a desire to improve the lives of those in need at both a community and national level. To date, CMG Foundation has raised nearly $4 million for the non-profits it supports including its three main focuses: Gary Sinese Foundation, Cancer Support Community and MBA Opens Doors. All charities that focus on supporting deserving individuals and families with the comfort of a home to call their own – whether it’s tailor-made for a wounded veteran or mortgage assistance for a family grappling with a medical emergency.
While COVID has forced CMG to put all 2020 fundraising events on hold, Stevens been working directly with their charitable organizations to provide support outside of the usual fundraising initiatives. And in 2021, CMG hopes to enter the year will a calendar full of fundraisers including its 10th Annual Wine Tasting and Charity Auction and golf tournament at Tennessee Grasslands Golf and Country Club, all stacked with employee volunteers.
“This foundation is another heartbeat of our company and who we are when we are together or as an individuals,” said Kelly Mattox, manager of digital managers. “It makes me proud to be a part of a company who goes above and beyond; not only for our employees and customers but for others out there less fortunate.”
Continuing its path of generosity and giving – not just giving back – is also part of the DNA of another lender: Movement Mortgage. And these goals have not slowed down in the past few months. The company’s Movement Foundation was created with the hope of improving under-served communities through education, healthcare and affordable housing – a mission that drives the organization and the people in it. Funded by profits generated from Movement Mortgage, the foundation reinvests in communities and empowers employees to reinvest in the causes that are most important to them.
For Movement, these past few months have been filled with what Movement Director of Marketing and Communication, Adam O’Daniel, refers to as “small expressions of generosity” throughout the company. Following the protests around George Floyd’s murder, Movement had a day of giving at their Minnesota office to help restock local food pantries and rebuild areas that had seen damage.
Since its launch in 2012, the foundation has invested more than $65 million in causes and ventures intended to create lasting change in lives.
Through its Match Giving program, the Movement Foundation matches donations made by Movement’s employees helps them “double down” on those causes that are most important to them. Similarly, Movement created the Movement 10K program where, each month, the foundation challenges employees to nominate nonprofits doing good work in their communities and gives a $10,000 grant on their behalf.
Perhaps the biggest accomplishment of the Movement Foundation to date has been the development of Movement Schools; tuition-free public charter schools in Charlotte, North Carolina. Movement opened its first campus in West Charlotte in 2017 and is on track to open its second campus in East Charlotte in August 2020 – a challenging feat in the midst of a pandemic.
Other lenders have also worked to give back to the nation’s youth. In November 2019, First Guaranty Mortgage Corp. established a partnership with Court Appointed Special Advocates, a community of volunteers who speak out on behalf of abused children in Collin County, Texas and Frederick, Maryland. CASA provides court-based advocacy for children who have been abused or neglected by training volunteer advocates to serve as the voice for the children within the court system to ensure they are placed in a safe, permanent and loving home.
After a successful holiday drive to raise money for gift cards and toys for children of CASA, FGMC had to reassess its strategy for 2020 as they faced cancellations to previously-planned CASA chapter’s events for the remainder of the year.
However, FGMC found an opportunity to continue its cause in April with Child Abuse Awareness Month where FGMC launched an internal campaign in coordination with North Texas Giving Day to raise money for CASA. FGMC encouraged employees to spread awareness of child abuse and raise money for CASA.
FGMC is currently focused on its back-to-school campaign to raise money for children in CASA to purchase clothing, school supplies and any additional materials to help with digital learning before the school year begins.
“Working with CASA just makes me such a better person,” Commissions Manager Tamara Cothran said. “Because I’m making such a big impact, it just helps me appreciate life a lot more.”
While the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many within the housing industry to adjust their visions for the year and maneuver around the challenges thrown their way, generosity remains a priority for the companies that consider giving back an essential part of their corporate culture. The following pages tell the stories of companies that have stepped up and continued to give back in the midst of a worldwide pandemic over the past year, encouraging us to stay focused on the “helpers.”