The mission of the Acts of Courage is to ensure that every woman in our community has the opportunity to access affordable homeownership if she desires. Beyond the support of our Founding Members, we invite every woman and ally who cares deeply about women and children in our community to get involved.
Michaela Guster bought a City of Milwaukee tax foreclosure – a duplex – for $27,000 in April 2023. She was 29 years old and a first-time homebuyer.
Family is really important to Michaela, and she didn’t have to look far for a role model in homeownership – her Mom, Vanessa, worked with Acts 12 years ago to purchase the home Michaela grew up in! Her brother is an Acts alumni, too, and her younger sister is going to rent the second unit in her duplex until she’s ready to start the program.
Michaela says buying a fixer-upper has been her goal since she was a kid. She’s a living example of the generational impact homeownership can have on a family.
Inspiration From Founding Member, Debbie Johnson
“Since childhood, I’ve felt that buildings have “souls” and that an abandoned building suffers until it’s made safe and filled with caring residents. My perspective on this hasn’t changed much – frankly, at all – after these many years.
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While living in California, my ten-year-old son and I refurbished forgotten, rundown homes in downtown Napa. My son, a kindred spirit when it comes to rescuing these buildings, wanted to spend his tenth birthday demolishing the tile in the bathroom of the first home we purchased. It couldn’t have been a happier celebration. After that, the two of us remodeled three homes that we rented to teachers from his school, because the cost of housing was so high in the area. That was my first experience in witnessing, first-hand, how a home can change a life.
Time passed and it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I grew close to a young woman named Rosa and her two daughters. The family was living in a small apartment in an unsafe neighborhood where car break-ins and occasional gunfire, unfortunately not unexpected, disturbed their lives. We talked about many things, but frequently the conversations would be about her daughters and her desire to give them all of the advantages that she never had as a child. Somewhere along the way she shared that her daughters included the following in their nightly prayers, “Please God, find us a house to live in.” The subject of home ownership once again came up. This was the start of Rosa’s daring to dream period.
We discussed what her home might look like, whether it would have a safe outdoor space for the girls to play, and could she finally have enough room to host family and friends. Now it’s important to note that this young woman had a husband, someone who was hard-working and dedicated to his family. But he did not believe home ownership was something they could ever achieve.
Even after I offered to give them some money for a down payment, Rosa’s dream seemed out of reach. Her husband finally agreed to apply for a mortgage and they were pre-approved for a relatively low amount. Miraculously, in spite of the increased demand for housing and high purchase prices, they found a home. Upon making an offer, in their letter to the seller, they wrote:
When we got back in our car, we both had visions of spending our future in your home. We could see all of the birthday parties and sleepovers, the barbecues on the patio. We saw a life of endless possibilities should we be able to live in your home.
Their offer was accepted.
The courage to pursue a seemingly unachievable dream for her family was embodied in one woman. It was her unwavering faith and unwillingness of give up her dream that made homeownership possible, and continues to allow her girls to think bigger about their life paths.”
Where Funding Goes
This year, funds will be used to underwrite a Power Pack cohort of 100 women, which will launch in the fall of 2023. On top of 1-on-1 homebuyer coaching, this program offers the opportunity for women to come together monthly for financial education and moral support, along with financial incentives. Any participant who opens an Individual Development Account (IDA) through the program will have the opportunity to access up to $1,000 in matching funds (money they save here will be matched dollar-for-dollar) and can earn $100 per month for active participation in the cohort.
$100,000 will underwrite matching funds for all of these women, helping them move closer to homeownership. Acts of Courage was inspired by women taking control of their lives, intuitively understanding the power of homeownership, and working hard to make it a reality.
Founding members contribute $100,000* or more, and make a commitment to engage 10 new supporters in honor of the fierce, ambitious, and courageous women pursuing homeownership through Acts Housing.
If you’d like to become a founding member, please contact Jamie Pitts, Director of Fundraising at email@example.com or call 414-635-0834
*Founding member contributions may be fulfilled over a period not to exceed 5 years from the pledge date.
Giving Society Members
The Giving Society will open membership to 100 new donors per year. Members make a $1,000* annual contribution and may further engage on a committee supporting the annual luncheon or volunteer day.
*Giving society gifts may be fulfilled annually or quarterly if paid by automatic EFT.