Volunteering with Dallas Area Habitat
Volunteering at Habitat for Humanity was more than simply checking off a bucket list item for me. During one of the introductory resource group calls at Mr. Cooper, I heard about a unique opportunity to volunteer with Mr. Cooper Group in partnership with Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build initiative, which teaches concepts to empower women to learn about homeownership, finances, and how to work towards fulfilling that dream. I’ve been blessed to lead a privileged life and simply wanted to pay it forward to express gratitude. After all, a single diva (candle) can light thousands of other divas without decreasing its own brightness.
However, with the onset of COVID-19, a lot of things changed, including what volunteering looked like at Mr. Cooper Group. I was excited to step outside my comfort zone with the Women Build event and head to the construction site. I’ve never held tools nor assembled or constructed anything, so it was indeed a leap of faith when I signed up for the slot AND showed up at the site on a Saturday morning bright and early at 7:45 a.m.! The entire process was very well organized and conducted in a compassionate manner.
Regardless of your skill level, the crew accommodated and embraced all of us for simply showing up and volunteering! There were a variety of tasks you could do based on your interests and skills. Throughout the event, we never let down our safety guardrails including mandatory face masks, hard hats, and scheduled breaks. On the construction site, time flies fast when you are having fun, so being on a schedule helped us stay grounded and get our work accomplished.
It was humbling to build alongside the homeowner herself. Part of Habitat’s build process requires the homeowner to put in 250 hours of sweat equity to qualify for a $0 down payment and 0% interest on their mortgage. Research highlights the gender and racial disparity in homeownership, so just when the odds of a single mother with two kids becoming a homeowner seemed like a distant dream, incentives like sweat equity through Habitat’s program made it possible for this woman to manage the cost of homeownership. The pride and joy on her face of beating all the odds, hammering out the details, one nail at a time – was priceless.
Moreover, the synergy of working with other women leaders was incredible. Many of them routinely volunteer at the build events and play a huge part in keeping this dream alive.
This experience was therapeutic for me while I was in midst of grieving the loss of a family member. The second wave of COVID had hit hard in my hometown in India and claimed many more lives. Social media and news outlets fueled people’s fears, worries, anxieties and made everyone more nervous. Seemingly all those divas were getting extinguished one by one making lives darker by the moment. Volunteering was a perfect way to channel my emotions. The month of May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and I found an outlet to address it for me. Rather than let my flame be extinguished, I went with the flow and was able to re-focus and chose faith over fear.
Earlier I wanted to teach other women about homeownership, but in the process, I ended up learning a lot more about it for myself! Such precious experiences like this one add up to make Mr. Cooper Group a great place to work. You can get a job anywhere; however, it is quite rare to find a culture fit that encourages and nurtures you to be a champion, cheerleader, and challenger in both your professional and personal lives. This job is my first exposure to the mortgage industry, and I thought that the industry in itself was complex! But Mr. Cooper Group provides plenty of opportunities for employees’ holistic development where we get to connect the dots and humanize this experience. Women have the power to build and to change the world – one home at a time. A journey of a thousand miles begins with one single step and I just embarked upon it.