Standing through a storm: Wilmington grandmother achieves dream

July 24, 2023

Shirae is proud, confident, self-assured, and very happy! Why?

On May 22, she officially became a homeowner. That’s a cause for celebration in anyone’s life, but Shirae knows that for her, the journey is nothing short of a miracle. “I’m unemployed, and I’m disabled, but I did it! It’s miraculous,” said this 51-year-old Wilmington resident. “It’s so miraculous, and it’s thanks to my financial coach, Marilyn.”

Marilyn is one of the Food Bank of Delaware’s Stand By Me coaches, and for Shirae, Marilyn is more than a financial coach; she was a life coach. “I started with her in 2019, getting my budget together. She was able to see my strengths. She puts her own experience in it, and goes the extra mile until I started believing in myself,” said Shirae.

She explained that the process from dreaming of home ownership to reality was not without challenges. “I fell. I wasn’t able to get a home,” she said. But with Marilyn’s support, she applied again. “I got a $150,000 loan. She advocates for you, and you have to learn to stand in a storm. Now, I’m helping myself  . . . thanks to Marilyn.”

Shirae learned that Marilyn’s support exceeded financial coaching. In fact, just when Shirae thought she’s met all the requirements, she faced another major setback. One loan officer told her she’d didn’t qualify. Again, she reached out to Marilyn, who stepped in and helped her through the final challenge so the loan was approved.  “She shows people who are feeling lost, displaced how to push back,” she said.

Marilyn said Shirae worked hard for what’s she achieved. “She’s disabled, and she wanted to purchase the home she was living in. She pleaded with the landlord, and she had enough savings. I’m happy for her. And she wants to continue working with me on doing her budget. It keeps her own track,” Marilyn noted.

Shirae also learned how to stay focused on her goals, despite obstacles. “I was under attack in relationships, but it was a test. I had health problems, and I fought to keep alive. I was headed for death, but I survived.  I kept going, and I kept fighting.  I came through a stronger human being. It wasn’t easy. I attended homeowners’ classes every month. I had to learn how to save, how to trust the system. All these people, they’re your village, and I had to rely on trust to go through the purchasing process. But  . . . I finally have a mortgage and I plan to advance my education. I’m a homeowner now, and that’s a lot of responsibility,” Shirae said.

“I have to run this ship, and if there are some repairs, I need to fix it before it gets broke.”

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