Kathleen Fitzgerald

Greensboro, North Carolina
CDFI: Self Help Credit Union
Loan type: Home ownership loan

Kathleen's lifelong dream was to own her own home, but she never believed it would happen. Having been an unwed teenage mother on subsistence, her credit was bad and she had accumulated a pile of bills she couldn't pay.

In 1986, Kathleen came to North Carolina when she heard she could get a minority scholarship. At the time, she was working two jobs, going to school, paying rent, and fighting perpetual car trouble. Neither she nor her son had health insurance, so when one of them got a cold, they would just suffer through.

At age forty-two, with her son in his early twenties, Kathleen heard about a woman like herself who had gotten a home loan through Self Help, a credit union dedicated to making home loans to poor people and especially to single women. Self Help devised a two-year plan for Kathleen to get her credit in order, after which she could apply for a loan.

When the time came for Kathleen to apply for her Self Help loan, she was turned down. She was devastated. "Marcia went to bat for me," she says, "and she pushed the loan through." Now, Kathleen lives in a "nice little house in a nice little neighborhood." Her only regret is that her son never got to enjoy a house of his own as a child. "Getting a house did something for me," she says.

"There's millions of women raising children by themselves in America. They're not bad people, they've got plenty of family values. They just don't have any money. All they need is somebody to give them a chance. But, if you don't have money, they treat you like you're a bad person. You're not bad, you're just poor."

Kathleen was recently promoted to operations manager at Conica color photographic paper plant. The company is now paying for her to study management in night school.

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