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Meet Emily and Ryan

Purchasing your first home opens more doors than one. When families secure safe, stable housing, children have more opportunities to thrive.

That’s why Emily and Ryan made it their goal to purchase their first family home. The two have been married for nearly nine years and welcomed their daughter into the world four years ago.

“We were renting at an apartment complex, but knew we’d outgrow the unit—and fast—so we started a savings plan and worked toward getting our credit score ready,” Emily said. “But it seemed like every time we made progress, life emergencies would come up. Our dream house felt out of reach.”

Still, they continued their day-to-day hustles. Ryan is a teacher and chaplain at a faith-based elementary school and Emily, a nonprofit professional. The two have rich social lives and are active in their church ministry. They created a happy life for themselves but had safety concerns due to an uptick in gun violence and looting in their neighborhood.

One day, Emily got a text from a friend with news they were moving to Florida. Their New Jersey house was one Emily and Ryan spent time in and loved. It piqued their interest. Could this be their forever home? How?

Through word-of-mouth—one of the most effective referral methods for services—Emily learned about a program that assists first-time homebuyers: United Way’s Lubert IDA Program.


“We still can’t fathom it sometimes. We have a fenced-in backyard in a great neighborhood with great neighbors. On top of that, the house is central to our families on both sides— both sets of grandparents within 25 minutes.”


They were able to pull $3,000 together to be met with a 2:1 match of $6,000, totaling $9,000. The home was theirs! By starting a United Way-supported Matched Savings Account, people can build their income, assets, and wealth through matches for homeownership, post-secondary education, small business expansion, or emergencies.

Programs like this are essential to helping families establish a strong financial base by providing a critical buffer that allows families to weather financial emergencies that could otherwise be life-altering.

“We still can’t fathom it sometimes,” Emily said. “We have a fenced-in backyard in a great neighborhood with great neighbors. On top of that, the house is central to our families on both sides—both sets of grandparents within 25 minutes.”

“It’s been an absolute blessing,” Ryan added. “The biggest thing for us, wherever we bought, was that our daughter would be safe. This home just brings us such a sense of peace.”

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