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Maximum Impact: Homeownership Assistance

  
  
  

Homeownership Center

Photo courtesy of www.keepingcurrentmatters.com
 

By Tyler A Snell

Homeownership – part of the American dream.

Do you own a home? Then get ready to celebrate we are in the midst of National Homeownership Month! It’s a time where homeowners can take a moment to appreciate their homes and what owning these houses means to them.

Do you want to be able to celebrate this homeownership month but are afraid you can’t afford your first house?

NeighborWorks can help you!

NeighborWorks Columbus HomeOwnership Center has the steps to help getting you that affordable housing while also educating you on first time ownership. The center offers all the important services and training that you need to shop for, purchase, rehabilitate, insure and maintain a home. A housing counselor will even register you to attend a one-hour homebuyer orientation class where you will learn what you need to know about the road to homeownership.

NeighborWorks Columbus offers services such as: homebuyer education, homeownership counseling, down payment assistance, help with rebuilding credit, low interest loans, and foreclosure prevention counseling. All of these services are great, putting you on the right path to your owning first home.

Also offered is the eHome America Homebuyer Education Course. Its content is tailored to help more people obtain Certified Homebuyer Education and a great alternative for those who can’t make it to in-person counseling due to schedule conflicts.

NeighborWorks Columbus as well as the HomeOwnership Center that it’s a part of, offers low interest rate loans, affordable down payment assistance programs, and affordable second-mortgage financing. Also offered are various types of mortgage loans including VA, FHA and conventional loans. Giving many great options for those looking to purchase their first home.

If you want to join in on the celebration of owning your own home, don’t let the fear of the price and unknowns stop you. Visit us at www.nwcolumbus.org for more information and don’t hesitate to contact NeighborWorks to get started right away!

Homeownership could be right around the corner for you!

About NeighborWorks Columbus

NeighborWorks® Columbus, a community-based 501c (3) nonprofit financial institution, has a mission is to provide access to fit and affordable as well as build financial assets for low to moderate-income individuals. It is NeighborWorks® Columbus’ vision and deep commitment to improve the quality of life through the elimination of substandard housing and the revitalization of target neighborhoods. For more information about NeighborWorks® Columbus and its services, visit www.nwcolumbus.org or call 706-324-HOME (4663).

 

Maximum Impact: Memorial Day and Hallock Soldiers Fund

  
  
  

Hallock Soldiers Fund

Memorial Day is a time where we honor the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military, the fallen soldiers that have made our freedom possible. Many often spend this day, May 26, hanging out with family and friends, visiting memorials or cemeteries, or watching/participating in parades made to honor these soldiers.

NeighborWorks also likes to remember those who fought and are still fighting in our military. This Sunday volunteers will honor the memories of those who have served by attending the finish line celebration at the Run For The Heroes from 7 to 10 p.m. on Broadway.

Run for the Heroes is a 260-mile run across Georgia that started on May 21 and will end on May 25. This race will benefit House of Heroes, Inc. that assists our military veterans and/or their spouses. They make repairs, improvements and provide maintenance to veterans’ homes at no charge to them.

Attending this event is free and open to the public. You can even get up-to-speed by checking the runners’ progress at Run for the Heroes website.

NeighborWorks, while encouraging the act of honoring those fallen soldiers and military veterans, also helps those who are currently serving in the military. Offering the Hallock Soldiers Fund, NeighborWorks wants to make homeownership for soldiers a reachable goal.

Straight from the NeighborWorks website:

“The Hallock Soldiers Fund increases aid available to our soldiers seeking homeownership through down payment assistance, low interest loans and matching incentives. The Hallock Soldiers Fund is a grant that provides up to $5,000 to potential homeowners with a deferred payment subordinate mortgage. This grant can be used for down payment assistance, closing costs and prepaid expenses associated with purchasing a home.”

This program is designed for first time homebuyers. There is no cost to military families for this comprehensive assistance.

Those who are interested in this program should call 706.324.HOME for more information!

About NeighborWorks Columbus

NeighborWorks® Columbus’, a community-based 501c (3) nonprofit organization, mission is to provide access to fit and affordable housing for all citizens of low to moderate income.  NeighborWorks® Columbus’ vision and deep commitment remains to improve the quality of life through the elimination of substandard housing and the revitalization of target neighborhoods.  For more information about NeighborWorks® Columbus and homebuyer education and counseling programs, visit www.nwcolumbus.org or call 706.324.HOME.

Tyler Anne Snell

Writer, Designer, Blogger

www.chasingthere.com

Maximum Impact: The Benefits of Community Gardens

  
  
  

community gardens

Hard working Brewer and MLK Elementary school students are tending gardens this summer through Ronzell Buckner’s Turn Around Columbus, a tutoring and mentoring program based at the Michael Fluellen Recreation Center. MidTown, Inc. heard that many of the original gardeners of the Debra A. Jones Memorial Garden in East Wynnton Park could no longer tend their own garden spaces, and envisioned a partnership with Mr. Buckner’s program. He characteristically seized the opportunity, and recruited Ariel Baldwin, Tavaris Baldwin, Jimmy Fortson, Ivy Pugh, Deontae Baldwin, Queen Williams and Saveion Pugh to work the gardens. With the help of Martha Mullinax, a master gardener and volunteer for Wynnton Methodist Church, and Wesley Shorter, a Turn Around Columbus volunteer, the students learned about planting, weed control, watering and the myriad tasks associated with cultivating an organic vegetable garden. Photo and description courtesy of Midtown, Inc.

by Tyler Snell

NeighborWorks® Columbus is all about improving the quality of life and the revitalization of target neighborhoods. That means supporting and bringing to light different methods to make a community better and stronger.  Something seemingly as small as creating a community garden can help revive a neighborhood as well as a community.

Gardening is an act we all do it at one point or the other. From planting flowers around our mailboxes to pulling out those annoying weeds, almost everyone can claim they’ve participated in this green activity. However, not everyone can say they’ve been a part of a community garden.

A community garden can, not only be fun and productive, but it can also bring a neighborhood that much closer together.

A public garden can help build a stronger sense of community in neighborhoods, help each other eat healthier, get each other outside and moving, help teach valuable life lessons, and overall just bring a better quality of life to you and your area.

Building a Stronger Community

Events and activities can bring a neighborhood together, which can help build better and stronger relationships within your community. A neighborhood public garden gives you and your neighbors a chance to spend time together while also being productive.  Whether you’re having a casual conversation or helping each other with planting trips and tricks, bonds can be formed that might not have been otherwise. All ages and backgrounds can enjoy the act of gardening!

Giving you healthier eating options

A community garden is an excellent opportunity to attempt to eat healthier while saving some money. Plan and grow herbs, vegetables, and even fruit. Having a successful edible bounty means you have no excuse to avoid eating better. Plus, there’s always a great sense of pride when you’re able to eat something that you grew with your own two hands!

Getting You Outside and Moving

Planting and working in a community garden has the wonderful benefit of getting you and your neighbors outside and working. Nothing like sunshine and fresh air to make everyone happier and healthier! Gardening can be a social workout the produces some beautiful results.

Teaching valuable life lessons

Gardening can be fun while also being educational for the young ones.  Having the kids take part in community gardening will help show them the process of where food comes from and also how to sustain the environment. It will also keep them mindful of what an individual as well as a group of people working together can accomplish over time.

Participating in your community garden has many benefits for you and your family. Do you not have a garden you can take part in? Get your neighborhood involved and start one!

A community full of green thumbs can make for a wonderful gardening and life experience!  Here are a few resources on local community gardens:  

 The Community Garden Network

Jennifer W. Davidson

(706) 653-4200

jdavidso@uga.edu

 

Columbus Botanical Garden

3603 Weems Road, Columbus, Georgia

contactus@columbusbotanicalgarden.org

706-327-8400

 

About NeighborWorks Columbus

NeighborWorks® Columbus’, a community-based 501c (3) nonprofit organization, mission is to provide access to fit and affordable housing for all citizens of low to moderate income.  NeighborWorks® Columbus’ vision and deep commitment remains to improve the quality of life through the elimination of substandard housing and the revitalization of target neighborhoods.  For more information about NeighborWorks® Columbus and homebuyer education and counseling programs, visit www.nwcolumbus.org or call 706.324.HOME.

Maximum Impact: “Safe Today, Healthy Tomorrow” – Older Americans Month

  
  
  

neighborworks columbus, columbus cottage programby Tyler A Snell from Almost There

This May we would like to remind everyone to take notice of a month-long celebration known as Older Americans Month. Originally established in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy, this tradition is a time to recognize older Americans aged 65 and older for their hard work, past and current, as well as the many contributions those have made throughout the years. It’s also a time to make sure each older American knows how they can stay healthy and active.

This month’s theme is “Safe Today, Healthy Tomorrow,” focusing on injury prevention. It’s important to know as much information as you can when it comes to avoiding unintentional injuries that Older Americans run the higher risk of experiencing.

Here are two ways to help celebrate Older Americans Month while also ensuring the safety of those in your family and your community.

Encourage Knowledge

First and foremost, encouraging older Americans to learn the different causes of unintentional and intentional injury common for their age can make all the difference between being seriously hurt and even avoiding death.  Numbers as high as 6 million older Americans are medically treated for injuries while some 30,000 deaths occur each year. Talk to the people in your life and make sure they know what to watch out for and what to do when and if an injury occurs.

Create Community Awareness

Helping, not only those close to you, but also those in your community is a great way to celebrate Older Americans Month. Host a local meeting to talk about the issues that can cause injury and what the response would be for them. Organize workshops about things like home fire safety and safe driving can also be helpful to those older American in your community.

Now, if you are one of these great individuals 65 or older, here are a few tips to consider this month to help stay safe throughout each day.

Everyday Safety

  • Make sure you have good lightning throughout your house and outside. This can help reduce the chances of falling or being disoriented at night.
  • Install rails and grab bars where they might be needed, like bathrooms and stairs.
  • Check fire detectors regularly to ensure they are all up to working order.
  • If you’re planning on driving a long distance, go ahead and designate a specific route so as to avoid any unwanted confusion or last second changes.
  • Finding places with easy parking is a great way to make any day easier and safer.
  • Have your phones easily accessible and near throughout your house in case of an emergency.
  • Knowledge is power and should be shared within your community. Protect those who have helped shape your community by making a conscious decision to keep everyone informed about the potential threats against their safety.

Being safe today does lead to a healthy tomorrow. Let’s help ourselves as well as those in our community live longer, healthier lives!

About NeighborWorks Columbus

NeighborWorks® Columbus’, a community-based 501c (3) nonprofit organization, mission is to provide access to fit and affordable housing for all citizens of low to moderate income. NeighborWorks® Columbus’ vision and deep commitment remains to improve the quality of life through the elimination of substandard housing and the revitalization of target neighborhoods. For more information about NeighborWorks® Columbus and its services, visit nwcolumbus.org or call 706-324-HOME (4663).

Maximum Impact: A Quick Guide to Celebrating Earth Day

  
  
  

earth day aflac restore revitalization

By Tyler A Snell of Almost There

Earth Day, recognized every April 22, is a day many celebrate by showing their support for the environment as well as its protection. However, with Earth Day approaching fast, some wonder what does that really mean? How are you supposed to fight for a clean environment on this specific day each year?

Here’s a quick list of activities that you can participate in to celebrate this holiday while also helping your environment as well as your community!

1. Become Informed

Like any holiday or special event, before you celebrate you should learn the meaning behind what you’re doing. Learn more about the environment and what you can do daily to better your situation.

2. Give Back

Reuse is a big Earth Day theme so why not hop onto the bandwagon? Hold a garage sale to purge your home of the items you no longer use. This act alone can give back to your community while showing a great example of recycling.

3. Donate

Do you have some items that you don’t mind parting with without monetary gain? There are many individuals and organizations that can benefit by a selfless donation. Earth Day is about bettering the environment. Helping those in need definitely counts!

4. Plant, Plant, Plant

Plant a tree! Whether it’s in your own garden or a community one, take some time to plant something. Gardening on Earth Day can help the environment while also giving a community something to do together.

5. Clean Up

Is there a community lot like a park or walking trail that has trash strung around? Organize a group or act on your own to help pick up litter left behind to make a public place more presentable and clean.

6. Create Crafts

Making nature-related crafts at home or at a community place can be fun while also helping teach children the importance of the environment. Plus, participating in a fun Earth Day-themed event can help bring you and your neighbors closer together.

Even if you have a busy schedule, participating in some or all of these activities can help make your Earth Day productive and special.

About NeighborWorks Columbus

NeighborWorks® Columbus’, a community-based 501c (3) nonprofit organization, mission is to provide access to fit and affordable housing for all citizens of low to moderate income.  NeighborWorks® Columbus’ vision and deep commitment remains to improve the quality of life through the elimination of substandard housing and the revitalization of target neighborhoods. For more information about NeighborWorks® Columbus and its services, visit nwcolumbus.org or call 706-324-HOME (4663). 

 

 

Maximum Impact:3 Tips for Getting Ready to go House Hunting

  
  
  
homebuyer education

By Tyler A Snell from Almost There

 

House buying season is just around the corner, which means there’s no time like the present to prepare yourself for the task of house hunting. Here are three tips that will help make the process easier before you even start.

Get Your Budget in Order

It doesn’t matter how much money you make or how much money you have—a budget for how much you can spend on purchasing a house still needs to be made. Budgets are rock hard reminders of what you can and cannot swing financially. Smart people have been known to get in over their heads by overstepping their budgets when house hunting. People have also gotten their hopes too high for a house they know they can’t afford from the start, especially when the mortgage lender tell them they can qualify for more of a house than their budget can really afford.

Setting a budget can be a difficult task, especially when money is already tight, but it’s something every homebuyer needs to do.  The Financial Fitness course at NeighborWorks® Columbus can help you create a budget by categorizing your spending. This course can show you what expenses you need to cut while also helping you tackle your debt. Armed with this information, coming up with the maximum amount you can spend on a new home will be much easier and will benefit you in the long run.

Don’t Be Afraid of Options

Buying a home is, arguably, one of the biggest financial undertakings you’ll encounter in your life. Finding the right home in the right price range can be daunting, especially without some form of help.  NeighborWorks® Columbus has a few options you can look at, including low interest rate loans and affordable down payment assistance programs in Georgia and Alabama. Financial help and guidance can open your eyes to the houses you can truly afford which will make house hunting a better experience for you and your family.  

Keep Stress to a Minimum

Looking for a new home can, and is, for the most part, stressful even before you actually start. You want the best of the best without ever having to compromise or lower your standards. However, like life, searching for a home doesn’t always go the way you plan.

Sometimes it’s hard to look at a place and picture what it could be because, essentially, every house you look at is your future. That, in itself, can bring on the weight of the world. The urge to move, the possibility of competing offers, and time restraints can force you to make a life-altering decision quickly. So stress, no matter the type, price, or location of the houses you’re looking at, will most likely rear its ugly head during this process.

Through the NeighborWorks® HomeOwnership Center you can plan ahead to help lessen the weight of stress. By signing up for pre-purchase counseling you can learn to become homebuyer ready before you even start your house hunting process.  With all of the technical issues taken care of before you start looking, the search for your ideal home will become more straightforward.

If you’re about to start the journey of house hunting, remember that creating a budget, figuring out your options, and keeping your stress levels down can make searching for a new home more enjoyable. Don’t be afraid to seek help and don’t let anxiety dim the pleasure of the process or force you into making decisions you might later regret.

About NeighborWorks Columbus

NeighborWorks® Columbus’, a community-based 501c (3) nonprofit organization, mission is to provide access to fit and affordable housing for all citizens of low to moderate income.  NeighborWorks® Columbus’ vision and deep commitment remains to improve the quality of life through the elimination of substandard housing and the revitalization of target neighborhoods.  For more information about NeighborWorks® Columbus and its services, visit www.nwcolumbus.org

Home Matters: Michael Willis - Natural Reaction to Serve

  
  
  

michael willis, neighborworks, east highlandMichael Willis' first encounter with NeighborWorks® Columbus was as a life-long resident of the East Highland Community.  

"We were getting ready to put a community center in my neighborhood, and NeighborWorks was real instrumental in helping me get building supplies," Willis said. "So I wanted to serve on the Board."  

Nine years later, Willis remains one of the longest-serving members on the NeighborWorks Board of Directors.  

"I really like how they (NeighborWorks) care about the City of Columbus, different communities, how the Board always wants to make a community better, and they work diligently to make that happen," Willis said.

As a long-time member of the board, Willis said he has seen the organization evolve in several ways. He said when he first started working with NeighborWorks, in particular, there was a heavy focus on education programs, which he and his neighborhood benefited from personally.

"They've come in and helped us clean up the community, from picking up trash to helping sponsor programs for us," Willis said. "There was also a slumlord with a set of apartments, and they were real instrumental in getting that taken care of."  

Willis said while there are differences in the work the organization does—like the addition of the Columbus Cottage Program—there isn't much change in what drives the work.  

"I've just seen NeighborWorks evolve from one caring phase to another. As Cathy (Williams, President & CEO), sees a need, she brings it to the board, and we always support her. The staff are some great, wonderful, professional people, and they are good at what they do. "I'm just proud to be a part of it."  

In addition to his work on the board, Willis owns his own business Uptown Mobile Carwash, a venture he started at the age of 31. "I just like a clean car, and I made a business out of it."  

Michael has a 33-year-old son and four grandchildren and attends Antioch Baptist Church.  

About NeighborWorks Columbus

NeighborWorks® Columbus’, a community-based 501c (3) nonprofit organization, mission is to provide access to fit and affordable housing for all citizens of low to moderate income.  NeighborWorks® Columbus’ vision and deep commitment remains to improve the quality of life through the elimination of substandard housing and the revitalization of target neighborhoods.  For more information about NeighborWorks® Columbus and its services, visit www.nwcolumbus.org.

 

 

 

 

 

Maximum Impact: Service fits Rebecca Cartee like a glove

  
  
  

1781946 10152000277644862 1632723274 n resized 600Rebecca spending quality time with nieces, Bailee and Emilia

When Rebecca Cartee found her way to NeighborWorks Columbus almost 12 years ago, it was like the perfect fit.

Rebecca has been with NeighborWorks almost since the organization's start in 2002, hired originally as the grant coordinator and currently serving as the grants and compliance officer. Her heart for helping others to achieve the American Dream, combined with her family background and love of writing, makes her role at NeighborWorks exactly right.

It took Rebecca a few stepping stones to find her way to the organization, though. She first served as a counselor for Juvenile Services for her career, while writing grants as a hobby on the side for the Homeless Resource Network, where she served on the Board of Directors.

"I had a hard time achieving results counseling juvenile girls who didn't want to change," she said. Her mom saw an ad for Enrichment Services Program, Inc. for a grant writer position, and Rebecca decided to give it a shot and took her first official job in the field.

"I discovered I actually like doing this so much better," she said.

Rebecca's grandfather was a home builder, and when the NeighborWorks position became available, she knew she had to take it.

"We help a group of people who ordinarily wouldn't think they could have a house," she said. "I like helping people who fall through everybody else's cracks."

The Columbus Cottage Program, in particular, is especially close to Rebecca's heart.

Ultimately, Rebecca's drive for all her nonprofit work comes down to her love for people.

"There is such a big difference in our society between those who have and those that don't. It's incumbent upon us who have even a little to help," she said. "If we can help, I think we're supposed to."

Rebecca also has a side business, Editing by Rebecca, where she edits manuscripts for independent authors. She started her venture in October and has had great success already.

About NeighborWorks Columbus

NeighborWorks® Columbus’, a community-based 501c (3) nonprofit organization, mission is to provide access to fit and affordable housing for all citizens of low to moderate income. NeighborWorks® Columbus’ vision and deep commitment remains to improve the quality of life through the elimination of substandard housing and the revitalization of target neighborhoods.  For more information about NeighborWorks® Columbus and its services, visit www.nwcolumbus.org.

Holli Melancon

NeighborWorks Columbus blogger

Seth Brown & NeighborWorks: A Perfect Pair

  
  
  

crime prevention, housing, affordable housing, columbus cottage program, giving back to your community, inside neighborworks, columbus ga

For Seth Brown, the city's Director of Crime Prevention, serving on the NeighborWorks Columbus Board of Directors has been only too fitting.

"I never realized that a lot of what they do correlates to what we (the Office of Crime Prevention) do here in Columbus," said Seth. "Not only is NeighborWorks tackling a house here and there, but they are taking a holistic approach of trying to tackle the City of Columbus."

That's exactly what Seth says the Crime Prevention Office works to do, with two focuses: grants and grassroots activities.

The city's office serves as a grantor to several area organizations working to combat crime prevention in one of five ways: recreation, education, community policing, drug and alcohol prevention, or employment.

Seth spends the rest of his time working on grassroots efforts to crime prevention in working with neighborhood associations.  He has been working in this role for the last three years and has been a member of the NeighborWorks Board of Directors for about four months.

"This is the only board I've ever wanted to be on," he said. "I don't think people really understand how much of an asset they are to our community." The perfect fit between these two organizations is that a lot of the work NeighborWorks does assists in crime prevention in the long run, Seth said.

"There is a program called Crime Prevention through Environmental Design. The concept is if your home has a broken window that you never get fixed, then eventually it will lead to another broken window and that will start to spread throughout your neighborhood," he said. "Getting rid of slums and blight creates happier neighborhoods."

Moreover, people investing in their neighborhoods, ultimately, lead to less crime.

Seth references Bibb Village as a good example of this, as their neighborhood association has banded together to not just cut out crime but to create a healthy, vibrant community of neighbors.

Since joining the board, Seth said one of his favorite surprises has been watching the Columbus Cottage Program unfold.

Seth is originally from Phenix City and moved away for a brief time around college. He has been back in town with his wife for the last 11 years. They have two children, Mary Paige, 12, who attends Richards Middle School and Wesley, 10, who attends the Columbus Ivy Program. The Browns worship at First Baptist Church in Columbus. 

Maximum Impact: Have You Heard About Tax Identity Theft?

  
  
  

identity theft, maximum impact, american dream, affordable housing

Ready for tax season? If you haven’t heard about tax identity theft, you may not be.

Tax identity theft happens when someone files a phony tax return using your personal information — like your Social Security number — to get a tax refund from the IRS. It also can happen when someone uses your Social Security number to get a job or claims your child as a dependent on a tax return. Tax identity theft is the most common form of identity theft reported to the Federal Trade Commission. The IRS says tax identity theft is a top priority and says it has hired new staff, explored new technologies, and adopted new procedures to fight it.

For these reasons, I am participating in Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week, along with other federal, state, and local officials and law enforcement agencies. Here’s what you can do to lessen the chance you’ll be a victim:   

  • File your tax return early in the tax season, if you can.

  • Use a secure internet connection if you file electronically, or mail your tax return directly from the post office.

  • Shred copies of your tax return, drafts, or calculation sheets you no longer need.

  • Respond to all mail from the IRS as soon as possible.

  • Know the IRS won’t contact you by email, text, or social media. If the IRS needs information, it will contact you by mail.

  • Don’t give out your Social Security number (SSN) unless necessary.

  • Research a tax preparer thoroughly before you hand over personal information.

  • If your SSN has been compromised, contact the IRS ID Theft Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490.

  • Check your credit report at least once a year for free at annualcreditreport.com to make sure no other accounts have been opened in your name.

What if you’re a victim? Tax identity theft victims typically find out about the crime when they get a letter from the IRS saying that more than one tax return was filed in the their name, or IRS records show they received wages from an employer they don’t know. If you get a letter like this, don’t panic. Contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490. 

More information about tax identity theft is available from the FTC at http://www.ftc.gov/idtheft, the IRS at irs.gov/identitytheft, and from our local IRS office at:

6068 Business Park Drive

Suite 124

Columbus, GA 31909      

Monday-Friday - 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

(706) 494-9079 

About NeighborWorks Columbus

NeighborWorks® Columbus’, a community-based 501c (3) nonprofit organization, mission is to provide access to fit and affordable housing for all citizens of low to moderate income. NeighborWorks® Columbus’ vision and deep commitment remains to improve the quality of life through the elimination of substandard housing and the revitalization of target neighborhoods. For more information about NeighborWorks® Columbus and its services, visit nwcolumbus.org or call 706-324-HOME (4663).

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