Surrounded by family is what 'home' is all about for Bill and Shawn Whiting.
Together for 21 years (married for 19) with five children and 11 grandchildren, they relish the holiday get-togethers and family celebrations that bring them all to the same room. But with more people over the years, the room started to feel smaller and smaller.
“That tiny house was a little crowded,” Bill said, laughing at his own understatement. “The living room was probably 24 square feet; three steps and you’re on the back patio. So you can imagine how comfortable it was.”
The two had rented that home for nine years and, in fact, had never owned their own home. In 2016, when Shawn reached her breaking point and said they needed to move, Bill said they weren’t going anywhere unless they were becoming homeowners. The two were determined to make it happen. They just didn’t know how.
“We had no clue. I had some marks on my credit history and my husband had no credit, and we had debt we had to get under control. And that’s when we talked to Kelly.”
Kelly Smith, a Branch Manager at Community Bank in Penn Yan, NY, met Shawn years ago when the two worked at a department store. Kelly wanted to help the Whitings get the home of their dreams, so she outlined the steps to get there.
It wasn’t quick or easy, and Shawn confessed there were times she didn’t think they’d make it. But she found strength in Kelly’s optimism and guidance. They worked on their credit and cut back on things they could do without in order to save for a down payment. Before they knew it, it was 2018 and they were ready to try again. Sitting in her office, Kelly ran the reports and, to their surprise, Bill and Shawn now had credit scores strong enough to buy their first house.
“The Whitings are the perfect example of why we do what we do,” Kelly said. “The joy and excitement that I witnessed and experienced with them will remain with me for years to come.” That joy overflowed the day the house was officially theirs.
“When we signed and closed on the house, Shawn cried and Kelly cried,” Bill recalled, acting like he didn’t cry, too. The remodeled home with new cabinets, plumbing, electrical and finishes is everything the Whitings dreamed it would be. “My wife made me take a video of me carrying her across the threshold. Once we got it set up, we had a housewarming party in September. We had a DJ, danced and partied the night away.”
Since moving in, the Whitings have also hosted Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and the Super Bowl. Exhausted and maybe ready for a break, they’re just happy to know they have the space when they need it … and when they don’t. One thing is for sure: Kelly is always welcome.
“She’s just very down to earth, very caring, very kind to you,” Shawn said. “She knew how bad I wanted a house and everything we went through to do it. She put her own personal feelings into it to help me get through it.”
“We’re never gonna leave Community Bank. They’ll be our bank for the rest of our lives.”
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