It started as so many things do: one idea that grew into a bigger one. The end result? Wells Fargo and SERKET Racing made a first-time homeowner out of Veteran Army Specialist Joseph Saunders and his family during the American Le Mans Series at the Grand Prix of Baltimore Saturday, Aug. 31. A sea of ecstatic race fans welcomed the Saunders to the track, where they received keys to their new home.
Deployed to Iraq in 2006, Joseph suffered a back injury, which led to his medical discharge from active duty. Multiple military moves kept the Saunders family from finding a permanent home – until now. An ordained minister, he hopes to one day follow in his father’s footsteps and be the pastor at his own church.
How did it happen? Two years ago, Source One Distributors Inc., a provider of military and tactical gear to the U.S. Armed Forces, was looking for financing to expand their business. Source One President and CEO, Mark Llano, turned to Wells Fargo’s Capital Finance Government Services Group, which provided his company with the financing it needed.
The next year, Mark attended “24 hours of Daytona,” an annual car endurance race. With the excitement of the crowds during the race in Daytona, he saw an opportunity to help increase awareness and support for veterans. A former Marine, Mark is passionate about taking care of veterans when they return.
So he launched SERKET Racing – a Porsche race team – that would compete with the goal of raising awareness and assistance for military veterans and their families. SERKET Racing donates 25 percent of its sponsorship dollars to veteran and military charities.
When Mark was looking for car sponsors, he again turned to Wells Fargo, which signed on immediately to help support the race team’s mission.
But everyone involved wanted to do more. One of the charities that SERKET Racing and Wells Fargo both have a relationship with is Operation Homefront – a non-profit organization that facilitates the donation of homes, mortgage-free, to veterans. Working with Wells Fargo Capital Finance and Wells Fargo Home Mortgage teams, they helped identify several markets for home donations.
They have two other donations planned for Austin and Atlanta.
The veterans are set up for success: each of the veterans who receive a home will live there for a two- to three-year trial period during which they don’t make rent or mortgage payments; they do, however, attend financial education courses to learn about the responsibilities of credit and homeownership. At the end of the trial period they receive the deed free and clear. [Editor's note: we added this last sentence after we received questions about how long the veterans could keep the homes.]
Do you know a veteran who deserves a home? Nominate him or her at www.operationhomefront.net.
Did you know?
Wells Fargo has donated 42 homes to veterans in 2013.