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As a potential homeowner, Helen Flowers seemed to have everything against her. Married at 16, she eventually became a divorced single mother on welfare. A member of the “sandwich generation,” she faces the challenge of supporting her two children as well as caring for her aging parents. Her credit report was riddled with outstanding debt and damaging misinformation. And at age 40, she has spent her entire life living in public housing in the Bronx, New York. Most people would look at Helen Flowers and say, “There’s no way that anyone like her can become a homeowner.” However, our editors heard her story and thought, “We believe she can do it.” Furthermore, by investing in that belief — by putting our money where our faith is — we help Helen Flowers inspire others to believe that they, too, can become homeowners, no matter what the obstacles are.
Well, it wasn’t easy, but our confidence was rewarded. Flowers took on a second job, cleaned up her credit, saved toward her down payment, and overcame numerous false starts and setbacks to buy her first home — a four-bedroom, two-bathroom colonial in New Windsor, New York. Flowers held on to her faith in God and never stopped believing in herself. And that’s why I was proud to break the great news to her that she is the winner of BLACK ENTERPRISE’s second annual Own Your First Home Contest — and thrilled to present her with a check for $10,000 toward the down payment on her first home.
Belief in our readers’ desire to build wealth is a critical part of the BE mission. An even more important part of that mission is to get you to believe in yourselves. Yes, you can build a successful career, even if you are the first person in your family to get a management position. Yes, you can build, manage, preserve and pass on wealth, even if your parents never discussed the Dow Jones Industrial Average at the dinner table when you were a child. And yes, you can become a homeowner, even if you’ve always lived in public housing and have never known anyone in your family to pay a mortgage.
You don’t have to take our word for it. We provide proof in each and every issue of BE, by introducing you to people just like you — with the same disadvantages, flaws, and burdens, as well as the same passions, hopes, and dreams — who are beating the odds and achieving their wealth-building goals. You have bad credit? So did they. Never gained financial literacy? Neither had they. Divorced? Single parent? Living in the projects? First to go to college? Laid off? Born into a low-income family? Join the club. Each issue, we show you how people with the same challenges achieved their goals, so that we might convince you that you can, too.
We believe in the more than 1,100 individuals and families who entered our 2006 homeownership contest, hundreds of whom were inspired by the contest to achieve their goal of