Flip Or Philanthropy?
By Lenny Bazemore • December 24, 2015
They were my neighbors but so much more. Bill and Janice Henning were like my second parents. I was just five-years old when I met their son Curt. He was my very first friend and we are still close to this day. So when he asked me to buy the house he grew up in, the house across the street from where my Mother still lives, it was tough to say no.
I had a beautiful childhood—filled with family, friends and neighbors like the Hennings. We didn't have much, but we didn't need much because we had each other. Yes, there were times when there wasn't enough food. There were times when we had to heat pots of water on the stove to fill the bathtub. I remember hunger. I remember poverty. But most of all, I remember love, good friends and a safe neighborhood.
Fifty-two West Basin Street was a safe haven where Janice and Bill taught me family unity, discipline, and caring for others. Before Janice passed she asked that I “Please look out for Curt.” How could I refuse? How could I say ‘no' when Curt told me he was going to lose the house if I didn't buy it from him?
The successful real estate investor in me wasn't ready to flip this property in my hometown. At this point I was contemplating, how am I going to get a return on my investment with a projected profit of $40,000 to $50,000.
Still, something didn't feel ‘right.' I drove around my old neighborhood thinking about what I could do to make it great again. And then it struck me. “Don't renovate the house for financial gain. Give it away to a family who needs it more than I do.”
I'm thankful that I'm in a position to do something like this in my hometown. I'm blessed to have a successful career as a real estate developer and entrepreneur and I believe that once you reach a certain level of success, you have to start giving back.
I decided to donate 52 West Basin Street to Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County along with the funds needed to renovate it. In 2016 it will belong to a deserving family who will finally achieve their dream of home-ownership.
Donating the Henning house gave me a beautiful feeling, and it feels good do the Lord's work. Certainly, not everyone can give away a house. But in this season of giving, I hope that everyone will open their hearts and offer what they can to help someone else's dreams come true.
By Lenny Bazemore
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