With 2016 over, NeighborWorks of Western Vermont, where I serve on the Board of Directors, is reflecting on the year’s numbers. I’ll share a few here: 416 low-cost, comprehensive energy audits completed; over $1.9 million loaned to Vermonters in the form of Rehab, Energy, and Down Payment Assistance Loans; and 195 households given the skills and knowledge necessary to be confident and sustainable homeowners through Homebuyer Education. These numbers offer the 10,000-foot view of our impact in Rutland, Addison, and Bennington counties, but they miss the part I love about NeighborWorks: the impact on the ground level. I have a couple stories from this year that I wanted to share.

The first was from a homeowner in Rutland who called us when she noticed she could see her front lawn… through the wall in her basement. Charlotte, who had taken our Homebuyer Education course years earlier, knew where to turn (after momentarily panicking). We helped Charlotte make the fixes necessary to her 100-year-old home through our Home Repair service, completing a home evaluation, connecting Charlotte to reliable contractors, and offering her affordable financing.  With a helping hand, Charlotte was able to handle the situation as a resilient homeowner.

The second story was about a young woman who took our Homebuyer Education course a year ago and then moved back into her grandmother’s home to save money and prepare herself for homeownership. With the skills and confidence gained from the course, she worked hard to become mortgage ready with the guidance of our financial coach. Then, in April, she purchased our first renovation in Northwest Rutland- a formerly vacant house completely transformed by our LaborWorks team into a healthy, safe, efficient, and affordable home- and is now a happy homeowner in an up-and-coming neighborhood.

Finally, there is the couple who called us for an energy audit years ago but didn’t move forward with any home improvements until this year. This fall, they called us to thank us- they had never realized that they didn’t have to live in a drafty and uncomfortable home. Now, they’re cozy and snug in their home all year long.

It’s stories like these that keep us motivated throughout the year to help Vermonters be resilient and sustainable homeowners. We’re grateful to serve this community, and we’re looking forward to the stories we’ll hear this year!

-Gabrielle Gladding serves on the Board of Directors at NeighborWorks of Western Vermont.