Connecting With Our Community
When people without a home or much money need a place to live or work, they turn to Connections Community Support Programs. When Connections needs money to offer housing and job opportunities, they turn to First State Community Loan Fund.
Connections and First State have a long history of working together to meet their mutual goals. In fact, it's a history as long as First State has been in existence, according to Cathy McKay, president and CEO of Connections. "We have been working with First State since the early 1990's," she says, "and were probably one of the first organizations to get loans and funding from them."
Connections has been helping people in Delaware for over 25 years, providing community-based housing, health care, employment for the poor, homeless, and people with mental health disabilities. Last year, the organization served nearly 10,000 people in 55 locations, including
40 housing properties.
First State has helped make much of this happen, supplying funds for Connections to purchase properties, make renovations and provide its services. McKay says that Connections has often gotten loans from First State that conventional lenders might not be willing to give. "Van Hampton and First State have been incredibly helpful," she says. "They are really creative in finding ways to put a project together and make it work. Van will go out of his way to find partners and convince banks to lend or donate money to Connections."
In the mid-2000's, for instance, First State orchestrated a pool loan fund, bringing together funds from many banks that allowed Connections to buy and renovate a sizable number of housing properties.
Last year, First State provided funding for Connections to revitalize an entire block in Wilmington. Projects included an apartment building renovation and opening the A&G Steak Shop located at 501 W. 9th Street. This sub shop provides a place for Connections clients to work and earn income, as well as revenue for the organization. "The steak shop is doing well," McKay adds. "It brings in about $1,300 a day, in addition to the catering business. Just as important, it gives people jobs and paychecks."
With the long relationship Connections has had with First State, it's not surprising that McKay says she refers people to First State all the time, especially people starting out. "I tell people First State is easy to work with and can guide you through the whole process."
In these ways and more, the two organizations work to help people, business, jobs and the quality of life grow in Delaware.