John Hamilton

Even in a storm, connections keep this bridge strong

By John Hamilton

We are a bridge.

Our architects designed the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund to span a river of doubt and risk, stigma and discrimination, and connect people on both its ends.

On one riverbank stand hard-working people, businesses, and institutions that need some kind of financing and some kind of coaching to reach their goals.

On the other, community-minded people who value their neighbors across the river and whose kind spirits insist that they offer help.

The bridge was built for New Hampshire 36 years ago and has weathered fierce waters since. It has withstood two recessions. It has seen banks fail and the housing market collapse. It has seen the tides of social change recede and wash back in.

Its strength is, and has always been, the connection between two groups of neighbors.

Granite bridge over roiling waterThe bridge is being tested once again. Uncertainty and fear whip up whitecaps and threaten the river’s edge.

When the river is stormiest, we need to be at our strongest. The people who suffer most in these conditions are those who have the least—the very people we serve. So, we’re reinforcing the bridge with the same materials that built it in the first place.

We’re listening to our borrowers’ challenges, applying patience, and looking for ways to help them be even more resilient. We’re also inviting them to contact us for help adapting to their rapidly changing circumstances.

We’re listening to our donors, investors, and partners, and inviting them to use us as a resource. It’s because of their desire and motivation to help that this bridge was built. Let’s talk and share ideas about how we can marshal the resources to face this storm head-on.

Lastly, we’re taking care of ourselves so we can be available to you. Most of us are working remotely, but no work has paused. We’re meeting people online instead of face-to-face, and we’re available by phone and email. We approved a loan to a resident-owned community earlier this week. We continue to build relationships, find solutions, and handle applications and payments like we always have. You can drop off documents in a secure box outside our main office.

We’re thankful for each and every one of you. When people rise on both sides to strengthen the bridge that connects us, we tap into the humanity this situation demands, and we’re unified. Enlist us to make this happen.

John Hamilton is the Community Loan Fund's Vice President for Economic Opportunity.