Of Partners to Reach
Toledo-based WGTE leveraged strategic promotion and an unlikely mix of partners to strengthen their recent Facing the Mortgage Crisis (FTMC) effort. The initiative, which included a televised town hall and community resource event, involved organizations from all sides of the issue: banks, government offices, community activist organizations and political leaders. In the end, WGTE’s decision to work with a wide-range of partners helped them target and reach the community members who needed support the most.
Darren LaShelle, a program manager at WGTE, explained, “Going into FTMC, we knew partnerships were going to be important to our success. We were fortunate to have already worked with United Way. They helped us connect with a variety of organizations involved in the mortgage crisis.”
With guidance from The United Way, WGTE deliberately convened individuals and organizations that do not normally collaborate, including lenders that were seen as “adversaries” by other members of the group. LaShelle described managing the various opinions of the individual parties as “walking through a minefield.” But he stressed that it was worth it.
Conversation with people facing foreclosure revealed that what they wanted the most was to meet their lenders face-to-face. WGTE was able to provide these meetings at their FTMC resource event by involving lending institutions in early discussions about the effort. As one participant stated, “Today…I got the opportunity to face who I thought was going to be the enemy. And we ended up working out something where we’re no longer the enemy…we’re friends. I’m so happy I’m about to cry.”
To promote this opportunity, WGTE worked with local banks and government offices to mail flyers to citizens with delinquent bank accounts and those behind on property taxes. “We were surprised that lenders would volunteer to do this,” said LaShelle, “We expected them to be unwilling to help us.” The gamble worked. Participants cited the flyers as the number one reason they attended the resource event.
Facing the Mortgage Crisis had great success and confirmed WGTE’s role as a trusted resource. The community responded with positive feedback, including a testimony of gratitude from a participant for “an opportunity for her and her family to survive just a little longer.”
WGTE looks forward to building on the partnerships they formed through the FTMC initiative. They plan to continue their efforts with a future town hall meeting focused on how families cope with tension and stress during financial hardship.