Thankful for the opportunity to serve
By Julie Eades
New Hampshire Community Loan Fund board member Sara Varela describes what the organization has meant in her life.
Today I turn my blog over to New Hampshire Community Loan Fund board member Sara Varela, who volunteered to host our recent 30th anniversary celebration in Portsmouth. Sara opened that night's program with these words:
"Hello everyone, welcome to tonight's event and thank you for coming.
"I have been on the board of the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund for about three years. I am a resident of the lovely island of New Castle, here in the fantastic New Hampshire seacoast, and I am glad you have decided to join us tonight in this 30th anniversary celebration here in Portsmouth.
"I want to also acknowledge my fellow seacoast board members, Paul Spang of Dover and Brigid Murray of Portsmouth.
"The Community Loan Fund is a very special place for me. It was the organization that introduced me to the field of economic development, microfinance, and ultimately changed my life and shaped my professional career.
"I worked at the Community Loan Fund for almost six years, and during my tenure there I learned about the financial challenges people with low and moderate incomes face when accessing fair, reliable, financial products, skills to use those products and the possibility of achieving financial independence.
"The Community Loan Fund is a key player in creating awareness about these challenges and has been instrumental in giving many low- and moderate-income New Hampshire residents a sense of possibility, and the tools and resources needed to build their dreams.
"I have worked at several other local, regional and national nonprofit organizations in the economic development field, and am proud to say the Community Loan Fund is one that stands out by walking its talk; meaning, we don't only have a mission because it sounds good, but because we believe in it.
"The Community Loan Fund cared about me as an employee in ways that all employers should care about their workforce, but don't. This organization gave me a living wage, education, work experience, health insurance, and made me feel proud of what I did for a living.
"So when I say the Community Loan Fund lives and believes in its mission, I mean it. Both the staff and the board believe in treating people with low and moderate incomes in a dignified way.
"This is why the Community Loan Fund is very important to me, because it is an organization that was founded on the belief that 'many people with low incomes can become more self-sufficient if they have access to fair sources of credit. And that people and organizations will invest in providing opportunity for their neighbors—when they trust that their money is used wisely, responsibly and for maximum impact.' The Community Loan Fund brings together people who need access to resources with those who have the resources and want to help.
"The fact that the Community Loan Fund is a statewide organization allows us to use economies of scale for back-office operations, but have a local presence in the way we deliver our services and products.
"I am happy to represent the NH seacoast along with my fellow board members Paul and Brigid, and am thankful to all of you for supporting the work of this great organization that helps right here in the seacoast.
"As I think about what I am thankful for this year, being part of this great organization is definitely on my list."
Juliana Eades is President of the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund.