I am always encouraged to see ordinary people become leaders in their community by helping each other to have a better future. For this reason I am blessed and honored to be a recipient of the White House Champion of Change award. The future is always brighter when we can assist and empower others to achieve their life goals. I was taught and believe in the principle “Treat your neighbors as you would like to be treated” Therefore my gift of service allows me to have the knowledge and skills to assist first time homebuyers purchase their first home, or help families stabilize their finances. I feel grateful and honored that they trust and confide in me about their dreams, “The American Dream” of owning a home. GOD has given me the ability and passion to support families in achieving their goals, whether its home ownership, reducing debt, improving credit or advice on refinancing their home.
I have been with the Chester Community Improvement Project (CCIP) for the past 13 years and have seen the growth of what the agency has accomplished within the community. The Chester Community Improvement Project, Inc. (CCIP) is a community-based non-profit organization whose mission is to help “revitalize the City of Chester by building the base of homeownership.” CCIP accomplishes this mission through public-private partnerships that focus on targeted housing rehabilitation and new construction, supported by comprehensive pre- and post- purchase homeownership counseling programs. The organization works with construction skills training providers in the community to address workforce development and the underlying economic problems of the target neighborhoods. CCIP serves low to moderate income families in the City of Chester and throughout Delaware County.
A noteworthy accomplishment of the counseling program has been assisting over 30 first-time homebuyers to purchase a home in the newly constructed Wellingotn Heights development in the City of Chester, PA. Wellington Heights is a revitalized community that, when completed, will include a total of 42 semi-detached housing units for low-income, first-time homebuyers. Using a variety of funding sources, the City of Chester was able to relocate the existing families to decent and affordable housing and demolish the blighted units to clear the site for the new development.
Another accomplishment for CCIP was in 2005 when the Wells Fargo Regional Foundation awarded a grant to launch a neighborhood planning initiative for a neighborhood community on the eastside of the City. CCIP lead residents and stakeholders on a year-long planning process that resulted in the resident driven East Gateway Triangle Neighborhood Revitalization Plan. The primary purpose of the East Gateway Triangle (EGT) Neighborhood Initiative is to foster collaboration between residents and public, private and community organizations on actions that will address the underlying social and economic problems and improve the quality of life in this neighborhood. My role in the EGT initiative over the past 4 years has been providing financial literacy, homebuyer education and foreclosure prevention workshop for individuals and families residing in the target area.
The goal of CCIP’s programs are to promote self sufficiency. There is a sense of pride and accomplishment when my families and I are at the settlement table finalizing mortgage documents. They receive their keys and I say “congratulations you are a new homeowner.” My gift of service allows me the ability to lend a helping hand to others. So I ask you, what can you do for your community? Have you assessed your surroundings? Is there any way you can use your talents to make it a better place? If so, what are you waiting for? Now is the time to make a change.
Larry Douglas serves as the Housing Program Manager for the Chester Community Improvement Project.