CLAY COUNTY — Heroes during this COVID-19 pandemic may be the teacher who spent the last two months of the school year teaching via the internet or the paramedic-firefighter who responded to calls of the sick.
For those and others in essential professions including firefighters, EMS, law enforcement, military (active, reserves and veterans), health care professionals and teachers, Homes for Heroes is offering help with purchasing a home.
Inspired by the tragic events of 9/11, Homes for Heroes was started in Minneapolis, Minnesota at the beginning of 2002. In 2009 it grew to become a national organization that has since helped over 35,000 heroes and given back over $59 million, according to the company’s website.
Homes for Heroes’ mission is to “provide extraordinary savings to heroes who provide extraordinary services to our nation and its communities every day.”
Homes for Heroes is comprised of affiliate real estate and mortgage specialists across the country.
Amy Swanson, a Realtor with United Real Estate, headquartered at 8320 N. Oak Trafficway, is one of the Northland affiliates.
“We’re committed to giving back, serving and saying thank you to our local community heroes because they do so much to make our great community what it is today. They tirelessly serve and sacrifice for us so we feel it’s the right thing to do, and we’re excited to be able to give back and say thank you,” Swanson said.
Her main areas of activity in the Northland, include Kearney and Liberty. She also worked with individuals in Clinton County.
“I want to help anyone who needs it,” she said. “I am a big believer that we need to give back to those heroes. It’s an awesome way to honor those who serve. It’s also a prime time with those heroes who have been part of the COVID-19 recovery. It’s also my chance to payback the heroes in the community.”
While this is a new endeavor for Swanson, she can use data and tools from the national organization. The Hero Rewards allows funds from real estate specialist’s commission to come back to the “hero,” Swanson explained.
Lisa Bright with Nations Lending in Kearney is the mortgage specialist who has come alongside Swanson.
“It’s important for me to be part of this,” she said. “I have been in the mortgage business for 30 years and occasionally, I will see a hero out and about. I may buy that person a meal, but it doesn’t feel like enough so I knew this would be a chance to give back to the heroes of our community.”
Bright’s other motive to help out is her own daughter, a paramedic-firefighter.
“I know what she has dealt with over the past couple months and I know she is a hero,” she said. “My daughter purchased her first home. These funds that are returned to them are helpful. They can get those extra needs, those extra purchases such as a lawn mower. First-time homeowners can benefit from those extra funds.”
Bright said she is proud to work with Swanson.
“The other joy is knowing how unassuming community heroes are,” she said. “They are the first to shy away from the title hero. It means even more to help them out. For Amy and me, this program speaks to our ability to give back.”