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  • J. Snowden Stanley

The Good Shepherd Micro-Loan Program

Conceived from the inspiration of Bob Locke and with the full support of Arianne, in its first two years of operation the Church of the Good Shepherd Micro-Loan Program has now funded eleven loans. Each micro-loan is intended as an investment in the community to support small businesses or to permit the creation of jobs for community residents.

These loans are issued based upon faith and personal trust in our “Champions” and the care with which they have selected and presented applicants to the program. These Champions are community residents known to us for many years through Habitat for Humanity and other connections. We are completely confident that they will only recommend individuals whom they know will use the funds in the community and will repay them as promised so we can lend them out again. The purpose of this program is to invest in the community in ways which will change lives for the better. Thus applications are received and loans are issued and funded in personal meetings with our Champions and applicants.

The Micro-loans carry no interest or fees. Of the eleven loans issued to date three have been paid in full. The others are being repaid in accordance with their terms. We know that these investments have helped six small businesses and permitted the creation of three jobs. Starting with the $15,000.00 authorized by the Vestry we have now invested over $30,000.00 in the community in loans ranging from $750-$5,000.00.

All applications are completed by an applicant and signed by a Champion. Each must be recommended by two members of the Micro-Loan Committee and then approved by two different members of the Committee. The members of the Committee are Bob Locke, Snowden Stanley, Al Ingraham, Bill Love, Gretchen Garman, Nancy Stanley and Roy Parsons. Each would be very glad to answer any questions.

The progress of the Micro-Loan Program has been a source of pride to all involved in it as we know that we have contributed to the success of small businesses and made possible the creation of jobs in the community. Equally rewarding and important have been the personal relationships which have been deepened with our Champions and those which have been developed with our applicants during the Program. Our Champions are individuals who have devoted their lives to serving their neighbors and others in the community despite being able to live in much more “comfortable” surroundings. Our applicants are working every day to provide services or jobs for members of their community, often under very challenging circumstances. We have come to admire and respect each of them greatly.

We have also deepened our relationships in very practical ways. Our last two Vestry Retreats have been catered by Café Jovial, a small coffee shop which is a neighborhood hub in Pigtown to which we have made two micro-loans. Additionally, after several months as our Sunday Sexton, Sean Colbert (who received a micro-loan to support his light hauling business) has now been hired as our weekday Sexton as well taking on the duties carried out by Carolyn Sandler before her retirement.

Further illustrating the wonderful circle of relationships created by the long history of Good Shepherd outreach activities in the community, our eleventh micro-loan is to a business which provides financial and tax services to small businesses and individuals in the Sandtown neighborhood. The business is owned by Paige Fitz, the niece of Al and Laverne Stokes who have been known to many Good Shepherd members for many years as a result of our work on Habitat houses. Ms. Fitz lives and works in Sandtown in a house on which many Good Shepherd Habitat volunteers worked some years ago.

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