What happens after graduation from Emmanuel House?

In February and March, we’re introducing you to families who are partnering with Emmanuel House – and with you – in their journey toward home ownership. In this series we’re calling “Finding Home,” you’ll meet people at four different stages of the journey: One still waiting for a place in our Networked Saving program, one currently saving at an Emmanuel House property, one living in a new home of their own, and one several years out of the program and reaping the long-term benefits.

As I look through pictures of Cin and his wife with their young daughter, I remember well what it’s like to have an antsy, independent toddler in my own arms at family photo time. Getting just one shot of everybody smiling and looking at the camera can feel like a Herculean task. Cin and Lun, I sense, are as familiar with that struggle as my family is.

Of course, they’ve got some help.

Cin and Lun came to the United States from Myanmar years ago. Violence in their native land – formerly known as Burma – had made peaceful life there an impossibility. They were resettled as refugees in Michigan before finally choosing Aurora, Illinois, to put down permanent roots. The Kims have two daughters now: The squirming toddler from the photos, plus an infant girl. And just 6 months ago, Cin’s mother came from Myanmar to live with them.

An expanding family like this needs some space to expand into. Now, with help from the Emmanuel House network, they’ve finally gotten it.

In the photos, the Kim family stands in front of their new home. The house is far larger than any apartment they ever had in Illinois or Michigan – and that extra space, inside and out, is just what they wanted for their multigenerational family. They’ve worked awfully hard for it.

Cin and Lun work opposite shifts at the same factory. Like so many others their situation, they’ve mastered the art of balancing split schedules. Cin’s mother’s arrival from Myanmar was a huge deal for them, finally bringing some childcare help and flexibility into their lives.

During their time at Emmanuel House, the Kims moved quickly through the Networked Saving program, managing to save additional funds on top of their Emmanuel House savings. Their credit score soared during this time as well, helping them get a good loan with a competitive interest rate after they graduated from the program. With the help of their realtor, they were appropriately savvy when negotiating the purchase of their well-cared-for home.

And when a maintenance issue did come up, Cin and Lun knew just where to turn – they reached out to Austin and Sarah, the Emmanuel House volunteers who’d helped coach them through the home-buying process. These friends answered their questions and gave them a recommendation for a local plumber. Problem solved. And the Kims are still faithfully tucking a bit of money away every month, so they’re ready for future home repairs as they come up.

All of this matters – but not just for Cin and Lun. It matters because of the girl in the photo.

In buying a home, the Kims might just have changed the future for their daughters. Homeownership isn’t the only piece to that puzzle, of course – but for families with little or no savings and with no access to capital, the ability to put down roots and develop an asset of their own means children are more likely to graduate high school and more likely to attend and graduate college. And that education, in turn, is statistically proven to have an impact for generations to come.

Congratulations, Cin and Lun. May you enjoy many more family photos here in your family home.

Hayley Meksi
Executive Director