As one of the newer additions to our financial coaching team, Pa joined our staff in July this year, and is excited to be working with families on their journey to homeownership.
In her previous work as an AmeriCorps with College Possible and St. Catherine University's Multicultural and International Programs and Services (MIPS) office, Pa gained experience working with younger generations and helped low-income students plan for their futures.
During that time Pa also began the process of purchasing the family's home with her mother. The family of nine (Pa, her mother and father, and her six siblings) had been renting in the Twin Cities for 25 years; ever since they moved to the United States from Thailand when Pa was just four years old.
"Buying our home was a very memorable experience," Pa recalled. "It was after we had been in our home for about a year that I saw this financial coaching position at Habitat. It seemed like a great fit and opportunity to be able to support and partner with other families, like my own, who want to pursue homeownership. And now, here I am!"
Pa says it's because of her own personal experiences that she pursued her current role at Habitat. Growing up in a low-income family pushed Pa to understand elements of finance, and this pursuit of financial literacy become more of a passion over time. She completed her formalized training in September, earning her Homeownership Advisor Certification at the Minnesota Homeownership Center's Homeownership Advising Training event.
|Pa as a speaker at our Legacy Circle breakfast event.|
"I enjoy working with families on meeting their goals, but I'm also doing a little financial wellness education as well," Pa said. "I help families figure out if homeownership is something they want, and help them make a plan for how they can get there. I'm also here to offer advice as they are faced with different decisions, and make sure they take steps to be financially successful and be able to stay in their home once they close."
Pa feels it is important to establish an open and comfortable space to work with families as they prepare for homeownership. She often begins her coaching sessions by having the families tell her a little bit about themselves, and she, in turn, shares a few things about herself.
"I find that connecting with families on a personal level helps me understand and communicate better throughout various parts of their homebuying journey."
Whether she's connecting through language (Pa is a native Hmong speaker, and a student of Chinese), her experience growing up in a low-income family, her family's immigration journey to the U.S., her family's renting history, or even one of her hobbies, Pa says these connections are important.
"Trust and comfort level is important [as a coach]," Pa explained. "In this role, I've worked with all different kinds of families– different family make up, varying levels of familiarity with the homebuying process, U.S. natives and immigrant families. But no matter their situation, a majority of them are really excited to be in the program and are really dedicated to better futures."
Pa is actively coaching 26 families through Habitat's homeownership program, and has helped six families purchase their first home. Throughout the process, Pa shares her personal experiences and is diligent about following up and helping families understand and overcome any challenges they may face as homebuyers.
"I make sure to do timely follow up on things that we cover in our coaching sessions and that I get back to them right away with answers to their questions," Pa said. "I want them to know that I’m here to support them."
That dedication isn't going unnoticed by her coworkers and the rest of Habitat staff.
"Pa brings a dynamic mind to detail and analysis around the data surrounding our work which helps feed continuous program improvement," said Marjorie Grevious, Homeowner Development Manager at Twin Cities Habitat. "She was instrumental in clarifying our program requirements and the redesign of our Homebuyer Education classes to a one-day format."
Outside of her work at Habitat, Pa attends grad school and is working toward completing her Masters in Organizational Leadership. She also enjoys working out, trying out new recipes, spending time with her siblings, and being outside (just not in the freezing temps of Minnesota winters!).