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The newest member of our advising team shares what motivates her to help others reach homeownership

 

Gina DeNardo GrafGina DeNardo is the newest member of our homeownership advising team, but she has a wealth of experience in financial coaching. A resident of Saint Paul’s West Side, she has worked with NeighborWorks Home Partners off and on in one capacity or another since the 1990s.

We spent a few minutes getting to know Gina better, and learned that this super-connector lights up with excitement when talking about ways to help people improve their financial situations and prepare for homeownership.

Q: Where else have you worked? What did you do there?
A: I worked as a Home Buyer Counselor for many years with Neighborhood Development Alliance and Thompson Associates. After leaving Thompson Associates, I worked at CommonBond Communities as a Financial and Employment Coach. Most recently, I worked at EMERGE Community Development as a Financial Coach. At all of my jobs, I worked with individuals and families to support them as they worked towards building a stronger financial future.

Q: What is your favorite thing about NWHP?
A: I love the passion, knowledge and dedication the staff bring to our customers.

Q: Ok, a little random, but if you had a month of free time and could go anywhere or do anything, what would you do?
A: I would take a road trip with my husband from the top of the Mississippi river (well, maybe from St. Paul) to the Gulf of Mexico. We would stop and visit the towns and attractions along the river.

Q: What do you think makes NWHP special? What do our customers get that is hard to find elsewhere?
A: I really appreciate the fact that customers have an opportunity to continue to work with NWHP even after they have purchased a home. Once they own a home and are thinking about making repairs, they can apply for an affordable loan to help make the repairs and if customers suffer a financial crisis they know that there are counselors they can trust to help them.

Q: Why are you passionate about your service at NWHP?
A: Minnesota has one of the largest racial wealth gaps in the United States, making the path to home ownership easier to understand and achievable is my way to help close this gap.

Q: Totally open ended: what else would you like people to know?
A: As an advisor, I want everyone to achieve their dream of homeownership when they feel they are ready. There are times I need to tell a customer that they still have work to do. When we are told “Not yet” sometimes we hear “No” or “Never”. Knowing this, I usually try to soften the blow by comparing the length of time a goal will take to reach to how fast time took for something in their past (like how their children have aged). And it helps! One of my long term customers commented on this just after they bought their home. They said “When you told us it would take two years to purchase a home we were devastated. Hearing you compare the time we needed to work on our goal to how fast our kids grew over the previous two years helped us realize how fast time can go. Over the past two years, we would remind ourselves of this when we were feeling like we were stuck. And now we are in our home and you were RIGHT – time did go fast!”

All of our advisors offer free one-on-one appointments to get to know our customers and help them set their financial goals for homeownership. Get in touch to set up your appointment.

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NeighborWorks Home Partners

NeighborWorks Home Partners’ mission is to revitalize neighborhoods by creating and supporting successful homeownership. Learn more.

651-292-8710 | Staff Directory
Main Office:
533 Dale Street N.
Saint Paul, MN 55103

Minneapolis Office:
1930 Glenwood Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55405
hello@nwhomepartners.org

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